Blog post

The Most Frustrating Things for B2B Buyers

By Hank Barnes | March 05, 2019 | 2 Comments


As followers of this blog know, we believe that B2B Buying is really, really hard.   In theory, it shouldn’t be.  There is more competition.  Access to information is easier.   And products continue to get better.

But buying is hard due to challenges of consensus and confusion.   When Gartner explores buying with people involved in the process, we regularly hear that they get frustrated.  And guess what, my vendor friends.  Often, you are to blame.

In a recent survey, we specifically asked what caused frustration in the buying process.  The top 5 responses are revealing.


The first and fourth makes it clear that more is not better.  While there is more information available than ever, buyers find it really hard to find what they are looking for.   This is not a vendor-only problem.  It’s an industry problem, and maybe even an internal one for the buying team.  We know that buying efforts blend research done internally (‘what do we know already’), with vendors, and with independent influencers).  Collectively, this mix makes buying hard.   On the vendor front, there is a tendency to omit details (“people don’t have time to read deeply”) or try to overprotect information (which goes hand in hand with other frustrations).  The difficulty to compare is driven by the fact that there are so many options–and everyone touts something different.   So the comparison matrix gets unwieldly–with buyers lacking sufficient knowledge (and details –see number 1) to figure out what should really matter to them.

The other three are all on vendors.   The quest for revenue results in lots of pestering and pushing.  Buyers clearly feel like you are not making any effort to understand where they are in their buying process (wouldn’t the information they request be a clue) and don’t trust you to treat them right.    Gating useful content, while lowest on the list, works in combination with the others.    Let’s say a buyer visits your site and wants to look at a case study.  If you force a registration, they are worried about too much outreach and getting pushed to buy.   So they don’t register.   Then they say they find it difficult to find specific information.

Everything goes hand in hand.

The frustrations of buying can’t be solved easily.  But vendors can try to reduce it by being more thoughtful about what they share, how they share it, and how they approach the followup discussions.   The best path to that–uncover how customers buy by looking at how your existing customers buy.  Adapt your approach based on where the customer seems to be in their buying process (and as you do engage, work to confirm where they actually are and adjust as needed).

Frustration can delay decisions.   Do your part to reduce it.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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  • David Ewart says:

    Solid article to capture the pains from the buyer’s view… what is your take on the rise of ‘Conversational Marketing’ to help solve? We’ve had great success by isolating “intent” in the buying process and aligning outreach strategy to match. It allows early-stage browsers with interest to activate on their pace (we do incentive speeding up by sharing value) but putting full focus on people wanting to have a conversation.

    • Hank Barnes says:

      Done right, with the goals and approach you mention, it is a great tool. But I fear many will just look at the term, not understand the buying nuance, and just say ‘we drive conversations’, when all they are doing is interrupting and annoying. Kudos to you for applying it effectively