12 Research-Backed Insights from G2 on How AI is Transforming Buyer Behavior

Buyer behaviour has been changing for years and will continue to change.

We know that buyers have migrated to social media, it's now where they hang out and we all know we need to be socially enabled and empowered if we are to be successful in business today.

I was interested to see some research from G2, which you can find here and this blog is about summarising it.

  1. Deals are being scrutinized by leadership - Software vendors are having deals slowed as senior executives want businesses cases for spend. They want to see a clear return on investment (ROI) on any purchase. As with down turns of the past, software vendors need to lead with a business case.
  2. AI-Washing - 77% of respondents agreed that there was “AI-washing” going on, with people making AI claims about their products, just to jump on the AI bandwagon.
  3. Shortlists are shrinking - 45% percent of buyers had 4 to 7 products on their shortlists in 2023, a figure which dropped to 31% in 2024. Instead, 49% had 1 to 3 products, an increase of 16 points (from 33%). Sales people need to use social selling to build relationships on social media, earlier to make sure they get on the shortlist.
  4. Deal values are going up - While the number of software products being considered is smaller, budgets ticked up for larger investments. 12% of respondents say the typical size of software purchase they were involved in over the past 12 months was over $1 million, compared to 9% last year.
  5. Buyer needs are changing during their purchasing cycle - Sellers will also have to prepare for buyers with shifting project scopes. 29% of buyers say that their product scope always changes, and 43% say it frequently changes.
  6. ROI expectations are heightened - 57% of buyers expect to see positive ROI within 3 months of purchase, putting pressure on sellers to show quick wins and prove value soon after implementation. 11% expect to see positive ROI immediately after purchase.
  7. Software sellers face the specter of a potential executive veto - 41% of buyers identified a C-suite employee or the CFO or highest-ranking financial officer as the person ultimately responsible for signing off on a purchase decision.
  8. During the software selection process, the CFO always or frequently holds the final decision-making power (79%).
  9. Buyers prefer self-service at most stages of the buying process - Consistent with prior years, buyers strongly prefer self-service. This is especially true in the earlier stages of the buyer journey but is important throughout.
  10. 69% (compared to 67% in 2023) of companies say they usually engage a salesperson at a software company only when they have made their decision. Which is why social selling has become a “must have” rather than a “nice to have”.
  11. Distrust in vendor websites is on the rise - 9% of buyers cited “vendor websites are unreliable sources of information” as the biggest obstacle to purchasing decisions, up 6 points from 3% last year. Buyers can create relationships with your sales team through social selling.
  12. Buyers place more trust in their peers than in traditional analyst firms - When asked which source was more valuable, respondents chose independent software and services review sites at every stage of their purchasing journey. As a business you must empower your sales team on social to offer social proof to buyers.

Let's look at some context about social media today

Linkedin is the world's biggest network site.

So let's take a step back for a moment. How about if I could pick you up tomorrow and I drive you to a place which is full of your prospects?  All you have to do is grab a coffee or a tea and go up and talk to them.  You can stay as long as you like.

Now, you wouldn't walk up to these prospects of yours and pitch to them.  You would have a conversation.  Maybe ask then how far they drove to get there? Had they been caught up in the traffic?  You would have a conversation.  You wouldn't pitch to them, in fact they will probably ask you at some point, “what do you do?" but more on that in a bit.

Let's look at the data, cold calling vs our social selling benchmark

Here at DLA Ignite, we are always wanting to push forward the boundaries of sales, so we decided to put cold calling head to head with the DLA Ignite methodology for social selling and create a benchmark on 1st January 2023 (and business case) for our version of social selling.

So we took a team of "cold callers" cross trained them in our methodology for social selling and here are the results.

It's worth shouting out the team, Alex, Jordan and Jensen and they work for a company called Supero.

Don't believe me? Please check the team out on social and ask them about the results!

The results with cold calling

When the team were cold calling, that is, before we trained them on social selling.  I'm not sure what results you get with cold calling but they did whatever they could in terms of warming up the calls with emails or webinars, etc. And the results, they got about 2 calls a week.

As with any cold call, your job is to take the call to a next action, which might be a demo, discovery call and they averaged 0.3 of these calls.

Anyway, you will have your own figures for cold calling in your business and you will know what they are.

Related: From Ads to Social Media: The Shift in Media Dynamics