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What are the buying patterns of German companies and organizations? How do they shape the decision-making process? What are the deciding factors when it comes to making a purchase? Has buying behavior in the B2B sector changed over the last five years? At the beginning of 2009, Business Leaders Management Consulting and the Executive Master of Business Marketing course run by the Department of Business and Economics at the Freie Universität Berlin (Free University of Berlin) carried out a survey of graduates of this masters program, all of them experienced sales professionals and sales managers. This survey generated a very interesting insight into the German B2B market from the perspective of the providers involved. Details of the results are available in the download center.
The initial business transaction is a hard nut to crack. The decision-making processes are complex, involving many different people who have to be contacted and met numerous times before they actually sign a purchase contract. That said, the process they employ is often less structured than they would have you believe. Often, there is no clarity about what is really needed, decisions are made without a business case and no effort is made to contact the provider’s reference customers. When it comes to making a decision, the quality of the service provided is still the most important factor.
In terms of existing business relationships, customers remain loyal to their suppliers as long as the suppliers provide them with the support they need. They are also prepared to invest more money in “tried and tested” suppliers.
It is interesting to note the changes those questioned in the survey have observed over the past five years. In addition to becoming more price-sensitive and fickle, buyers are clearly developing a more open attitude to new offerings, including ones from outside Germany. What’s more, they expect an increasingly wide range of accompanying services. This puts providers in a very difficult position – their costs are rising, but they cannot necessarily assume they will be able to charge more for their products to compensate.