Last week I attended the first annual REACH conference hosted by G2 in Chicago – many thanks to PAN for sponsoring this learning experience. For those of you who are not familiar with G2, it’s a marketplace with validated user reviews to help businesses make smarter software buying decisions. They currently boast:
- 892,800+ validated reviews
- 3 million buyers who have come to G2
- Sellers offering 60,000+ products
- Millions of people researching, comparing and buying software services on G2 each month
As impressive as these numbers are, this isn’t an advertorial. I attended their conference to learn more, as I’ve observed an increasing number of PAN clients receiving these reviews and being recognized in specific categories based on G2 user feedback.
Buying and selling software is hard and getting harder. Give your community a voice.
So, why does this all matter for B2B software companies – like those we represent at PAN? As G2’s CMO Ryan Bonnici revealed, they recently surveyed a few thousand buyers and found that 67% of them don’t trust what they’re hearing from sales reps and marketers about products. Buyers feel overwhelmed with the number of options available and are quick to see through any slanted marketing speak. Therefore real, validated user reviews can go a long way.
Think about who you trust before you make a buying decision. Most often, it’s people you know or a collective consensus online. As HubSpot’s VP of Marketing Meghan Keaney Anderson noted in her session, 60% of people trust what customers say, while only 30% trust companies. In her words, customers are better marketers than we are.
We use Yelp for restaurants and now G2 for software. At a time where it’s hard for software decision-makers to know what to purchase, and equally as difficult for tech companies to break through the noise, G2 offers something incredibly valuable: trust. Reviews are tied to a picture of a real person, who has real expertise. They’ve also launched video reviews, taking the authenticity of this user feedback up a notch.
Authentic crowdsourcing builds trust in both B2B and B2C.
To further make the point that unfiltered, unbiased reviews matter – regardless of it being a consumer or business buying decision – Jamie Gilpin, the CMO of Sprout Social, compared the buying journey to purchasing a playset for her sons. She asked peers for recommendations, made a short list, went to Amazon, checked out reviews and then consulted the buying influencer (her husband) as well as her user buyers (the kids).
It’s really no different than how we purchase marketing automation software. The majority of research happens online, without ever talking to a salesperson. Whether it’s a B2B or B2C purchase, there is more information available and more choices than ever. When it comes to software specifically, new categories have emerged in just the last five or 10 years. Gilpin referenced automation, conversational marketing, ABM and social media management to name a few.
When it comes to marketing technology, trust is especially hard to earn. Marketers will question everything from the demo to the messaging on the website because they know how the sausage is made. Enter the need for authentic practitioner feedback. Gilpin added the point that “You’re not competing with just your competitive set; you’re competing for mindshare.”
TLDR – here’s what to know:
To summarize, my major takeaways from the conference are:
- B2B buying journeys mirror those in B2C – there is more self-service with lots of information and choices available.
- Buyers are sick of biased marketing speak and are skeptical of what companies say about their own offerings. They’ve lost trust.
- To be a business that breaks through the noise, you need to rely on your community. Your customers and prospects will do their own research regardless. Tap into your most credible advocates: your customers.
- Customer feedback, however, needs to be unbiased. Let it come directly from the horse’s mouth. This will demonstrate authenticity and build the trust that is so terribly lacking right now.
Want to know more about G2?
G2 is certainly a cool tool. Beyond the user reviews, I learned more about what the marketplace offers.
Currently in beta is a new chatbot feature, so you can to talk directly with a brand’s customer service via their G2 profile. Additionally, some companies rely on G2 to manage their SaaS spend, usage, contracts and compliance.
At REACH, we also heard directly from Sydney Sloan, CMO of SalesLoft, who explained the capability to connect to Chatter or Slack, alerting sales reps when one of their accounts is experiencing a sales cycle on G2. The same she said is true for customer success – if an account is up for renewal, that team can receive notifications on their customers’ activity with competitors as well. It takes 15.5 touches to convert a B2B prospect. It used to be eight, Sloan noted. This underscores exactly why this level of insight into customer feedback and activity is so important.
To learn more, check out G2.com and the #G2REACH hashtag on Twitter. There, you’ll see more highlights from the event, including sessions and Q&As with Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, The New York Times COO Meredith Kopit Levien and Whole30 Founder Melissa Hartwig, among several other top-notch speakers.