The most trusted sources of information overall are industry analysts (cited by 31.4% of respondents) and peers (28.7%). There has been an increase in the influence of peers since 2006, when they were cited by only 21.7% of respondents as a trusted source. (Survey respondents could select more than one response.)
The influence of vendors as a trusted source of information has also increased, from only 3.3% of buyers who cited them as a trusted source in 2006 to 8.1% this year.
“Buyers are willing to have engagement with vendors if they can bring very valuable content,” Neeson said. He pointed to Chuck's Blog, written by Chuck Hollis, VP-global marketing and chief technology officer at IT company EMC, who blogs on topics such as virtual storage and cloud computing.
“This is a good example of developing thought leadership in the marketplace,” he said.
SiriusDecisions also examined the influence of different sources of content in the early, middle and late stages of the buying process.
In the early stage, the most influential sources of information for b-to-b buyers are internal events or triggers (cited by 31.1% of respondents), peers (24%), industry analysts (15.6%) and trade publications (13.3%). Search engine results were cited by only 4.4% as trusted sources; consultants, by only 2.2%.
“In the early stages, it is important to provide more content and references,” said Alden Cushman, research director at SiriusDecisions, who co-presented the survey results.
The most favored sources of content during the early stages of b-to-b decision-making are white papers (64.4%), peer referrals (51.1%), webinars (48.9%), trials or demos (42.2%) and analyst reports (37.8%), the survey found.
In the middle stages of buying, the most influential sources are peers (22.7%), industry analysts (15.9%), trade publications (15.9%), vendors (11.4%) and internal events (11.4%).
Notably, the influence of vendors in the middle stage has gone up since 2006, when they were cited as a trusted source by only 3.5% of buyers.
In the late stages of decision-making, the most trusted sources are peers (28.9%), industry analysts (20.0%), trade publications (11.1%), consultants (8.9%) and search engine results (8.9%).
“To really get above the clutter, you have to show thought leadership,” Alden said. “You have to identify key channels, target messages to certain people at certain places and put together a framework for messaging.” M