Channel Marketer Report

Special Features

To Combat B2B Buyer Skepticism, Let Third Parties Do Your Talking

By Michael Kelly, Director, Channel Institute

Michael Kelly, Director, Channel Institute

Maybe it’s all of the talk about “fake news” these day, but B2B buyers are becoming increasingly skeptical of the information they see when shopping for solutions.

When the Channel Institute, a training body dedicated to promoting and developing the channel profession worldwide partnered with Impertion, a channel-specific demand generation company, to discover what marketing content is most valued by business-to-business technology buyers, we discovered that there is an overwhelming demand for trustworthy information.

The recurring theme from the research was the skepticism that B2B technology buyers have in relation to vendor content and claims. This may be summed up by one respondent’s request for “The truth! Not the marketing angles where everything out there will reduce costs and improve revenues and profit.”

With content credibility being top of mind, B2B technology buyers are seeking independence of source for marketing content. Third-party communities like are go-to destination to find credible information and discuss both content and solutions with their peers.

Indeed, almost 70% of buyers said that content on their party sites is more credible that information found on vendor sites.

To address buyer skepticism, marketers need to build better stories and more compelling content around tools such as ROI and TCO calculators, vendor comparison tools, and workshops that combine use-specific demos with free software trials. Among the information need to help buyers shortlist vendors, respondents to the survey said they wanted:

  • Proofs of concept workshops on real use cases, and VM workshops
  • Free and independent assessments
  • Customer results statements
  • Online buyer reviews
  • Cloud environments for testing

When asked for general feedback on what other content would be useful for business technology buyers, responses included:

  • Comparison sheets versus other vendors and solutions
  • Implementation history. What was easy, what was difficult, how did we overcome the difficulties?
  • Webinars

The Channel Institute and Impertion survey was deliberately aimed at understanding the “middle-of-the-funnel” or “evaluation” phase in the buyer’s journey. We received more than 300 fully completed responses from senior technology buyers. Overall, the results show a clear preference for practical tools to help inform and evaluate.

When asked to choose “Which educational content do you prefer to receive from technology vendors?” the results were in order of preference:

  • Free trials
  • Demos
  • Videos
  • Calculators (ROI, TCO, etc)
  • How-to Guides
  • E-Books
  • Case Studies
  • Independent Research
  • White Papers

The Channel Institute has announced the launch of its Certificate in Channel Management and Certificate in Channel Marketing courses. The certificate courses are the first business training certificates that have been reviewed and validated by the vendor-independent Industry Advisory Council, which is comprised of many of the technology industry’s leading employers worldwide.

You can be sure that creating credible content will be included in the curriculum.