The B2B Salesman Isn’t Dead: Only 30 Percent of Business Buyers Prefer to Conduct Research on Their Own

October 2, 2018

Showpad’s “The New B2B Buyer Experience” study finds that a skilled salesperson armed with engaging, interactive content experiences is best positioned to succeed in increasingly digital B2B buyer journeys

CHICAGO, Sept. 25, 2018 – The world of B2B sales has evolved. The average path to purchase is increasing in length, buyers are more informed than ever, and more stakeholders are involved in every purchase. However, according to the New B2B Buyer Experience report by Showpad, the leading sales enablement platform for modern sellers, this evolution doesn’t come at the expense of sales teams. The study found that executives still want to interact directly with sales representatives, and those that are well-trained and armed with digestible, shareable content are best positioned to speed up the increasingly complex sales process.

To uncover how the B2B buyer experience has changed, Showpad surveyed more than 650 global respondents who were involved in a B2B purchase over the past year. Key findings indicate that while the journey has changed for buyers, the experience is a crucial part of the journey. The study also found that while sales teams are still relevant, it’s time to evolve. 

The B2B Buyer Journey Has Changed, And It’s Not Getting Simpler

The B2B path to purchase has expanded and deals are becoming more complex, both in terms of length and the number of people involved, and this only increases when deal sizes increase. As more information has become readily available, buyers are requiring more steps before purchase than ever before:

  • The buyer journey is longer: More than half (54 percent) of respondents said their buying cycle has gotten longer over the past 12 months, with 22 percent saying that it has increased significantly. 
  • More decision makers are involved: Twenty-five percent say more than 5 people were involved in B2B purchasing. One-third of respondents say that 1-2 people were involved, and one-third say that 3-4 people were involved. The number of stakeholders involved rises in tandem with purchase price. 

Content Has a Crucial Role to Play in the Sales Journey

Buyers want a seamless process that involves the right volume and type of content, along with new features that augment the path to purchase:

  • Confusing content fails: Nearly one-third (32 percent percent) of respondents can’t make a buying decision when information is too difficult find, while 29 percent are frustrated when it’s difficult to share internally.
  • Less is more: Eighty-six percent of respondents are overwhelmed and annoyed when there are more than 10 pieces of content to review, while 42 percent are frustrated if there is more than five.
  • Interactive content experiences close deals faster: When asked what would accelerate the buying process, buyers wanted upgraded content experiences. In fact, 44 percent of respondents said would like to use an ROI calculator or analysis, 45 percent a personalized content portal, and 38 percent augmented reality technology to help accelerate the buying cycle.

The Role of the Modern Seller

While some have predicted the order-taking B2B salesperson to disappear as technology assumes a larger role in the sales process, respondents noted there is a place for a consultative approach. They still require human interaction when making B2B purchases, as long as that interaction is with a knowledgeable salesperson armed with interactive content. This is especially true among more senior-level buyers. Key findings include: 

  • Interacting with sales teams is still in style: Respondents preferred to interact directly with sales reps (38 percent) over doing their own research (30 percent). Thirty-two percent preferred a combination of research and conversations. 


  • Sales teams have an opportunity to show ROI: Thirty-two percent of respondents reported issues finding information during the sales process, and 37 percent said information wasn’t applicable to their direct purchase, suggesting that sales reps that can offer relevant content are positioned to win the sales process. 


“Understanding how the modern buyer makes decisions and engages with content is arguably the most important challenge for today’s sales teams, and we wanted to dive deeper into this topic,” said Theresa O’Neil, VP of Marketing at Showpad. “We know that the overall buyer experience is a huge factor in the path to purchase, but what we found is that this experience doesn’t come at the expense of sales teams. In fact, with the right combination of useful content, proper coaching, targeted information, and innovative technology, consultative sales teams have a huge opportunity to not only close deals faster, but act as valued partners to their clients.”

Download the full New B2B Buyer Experience study.

The B2B Salesman Isn’t Dead: Only 30 Percent of Business Buyers Prefer to Conduct Research on Their Own