Beware the ‘SaaSification’ of B2B Marketing if You’re Not a SaaS Business

B2B buyers are taking more time between major purchases. How can marketers adjust?

There’s a stat doing the rounds that just 5% of B2B buyers are in the market for your products and services at any one time. That’s according to research carried out for the LinkedIn B2B Institute by the clever people at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute.

The report states that corporations change service providers — such as their bank or law firm — around once every five years on average. That means only a fifth of business buyers are “in the market” over the course of an entire year; something like 5% in a quarter.

In fairness, this is not rocket science, nor is it especially surprising. But the 5% figure is only a guide. In practice, it varies wildly between specific B2B markets. And that matters. A lot.

Why B2B Companies Stay Married to Systems

Let’s say you’re selling an ERP system to enterprise businesses. Switching system providers is doable, though not without significant disruption and upheaval, so it would be reasonable to expect that most customers will stick with a system for around five years — a good amount of time to really understand the system’s benefits and shortcomings — before reviewing. 

But if you’re the auditor at a large accountancy practice, you’ll know that it’s not unusual for clients to stick with the same firm for over 10 years — meaning that less than 2.5% of large accounts could be in market in any given quarter.

But, for a SaaS business targeting the SMB market with an average 5% monthly churn (ouch!), the numbers could be much higher — there may be 15% of buyers in market in a quarter. 

Of course it’s not quite that simple, as many SaaS businesses are selling to customers who are not replacing something in a like-for-like way, but are trying to fix a new problem they’ve only just encountered. In this case, in-market buyers may account for an even higher percentage.

Related Article: Using B2B Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business

Ready for the Long Haul in B2B?

Another marked difference is the length of time it takes to buy. While all B2B sales are long in comparison to, say, buying a pair of jeans, an SMB might select a new piece of pay-monthly software and start using it in a matter of weeks. 

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