The (expanded) Gartner team has spent many years understanding the buying process in B2B environments. Personally, I’ve focused heavily on B2B tech buying (and really the whole customer life cycle). But there is one dimension to my colleagues research that I’ve not spent much time talking or writing about.
Purchase Regret. We consider purchase regret to have happened when members of the buying team feel the purchase failed to meet expectations or they purchased a smaller solution than planned or they just felt they regretted it. This just tracks those that bought. Imagine the “status quo regret” that must occur when teams invest time and resources into buying and then do nothing.
What causes purchase regret? The thing we’ve studied most extensively is the impact of the purchase experience – how hard it is to buy. Buying gets hard when teams struggle with next steps, have long delays, or struggle to gain consensus on decisions.
So this is bad enough, but now think about it in the context of land and expand strategies. Many buyers find the experience frustrating and have regret. As Brent Adamson of Gartner said, “Imagine that person’s feeling, every day, as they log into the system. It’s a daily reminder of the experience.” Who wants to relive that experience as they try and convince others that they should be doing more. Now, Dave Brock would be reminding us that part of our problem is focusing on customer buying, versus solving their problem, but it is more than that.
There is one other factor. Even if you win, and even if you weren’t the cause of the purchase difficulty, purchase regret will impact you. Its not you, its the overall experience (another thing we often miss in experience design—customers are doing a whole lot more than interacting with you).
Collectively, we, the industry, create experiences that people want to avoid. At a minimum that delays the growth opportunity. Or results in no decisions. Or no growth. Or optimistically, its just more challenges that we overcome. Customers often need to do something.
But what can we do differently. We can try to make things easier. We can enable buyers with the right information that makes it easier for them to answer their questions and complete their tasks (jobs) along the way. We help them create a path to value.
Does purchase ease matter? Absolutely. As some new data shows, it almost doubles your chance of a high quality low regret sale.
Want to explore this further, join Brent, myself and others at the Gartner Sales and Marketing Conference in Vegas, Oct 9-11.