Technology & Innovation

AI is revolutionizing Business-to-Business (B2B) software buying and selling

There’s a revolution underway in B2B software buying. As with most things these days, AI is at the heart of it.

Key insights from G2 at The Modern SaaS Finance Forum

If your career has spanned at least a decade or two, you should be very familiar with the idea of business cycles.

There was the dot-com boom, then the SaaS explosion, then cloud mobile burst onto the scene, and now we’re in the middle of an artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.

This last trend is causing a tectonic change in the tastes and behaviors of B2B SaaS buyers. 

In this article we’ll discuss:

  1. How B2B software buyers’ expectations for the purchasing journey have changed in recent years,
  2. An incredible AI tool that helps software buyers make better purchasing decisions
  3. Some best practices to keep in mind when doing your own B2B SaaS buying.

Let’s get started.

Here’s what we’ll cover

B2B SaaS buyers’ expectations have changed

Buyers carefully vet vendors’ trustworthiness

Keep it simple

G2, AI, and the future of B2B software buying

G2 AI Monty

B2B software buying: Tips for success

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B2B SaaS buyers’ expectations have changed

The B2B software market has been consumerized from top to bottom.

That means B2B buyers are becoming more similar to B2C consumers in their shopping habits, tastes, and vendor expectations.

And that makes perfect sense.

When a business wants to buy a software solution, there’s always an individual behind that company having a unique purchasing experience.

You should not only cater to businesses but also start playing 3D chess and catering to the individuals who are shopping and making purchasing calls. 

This consumerization of B2B SaaS shopping holds true for large firms like IBM just as much as smaller businesses.

Today, 98% of enterprise software purchases begin with a Google search. In other words, this is a trend worth adapting to–and quickly. 

Let’s get into some specifics. How have B2B SaaS buyers’ tastes and expectations evolved?

Buyers carefully vet vendors’ trustworthiness

Most B2B SaaS buyers are extremely careful about vetting the trustworthiness of any vendor they’re considering.

People have realized that in our increasingly technical business landscape, you can’t afford to be lax in the B2B SaaS vetting process.

Practically every business that’s looking to make a software purchase will ask these questions, at a bare minimum:

  • How long has the vendor been in business for?
  • Do they have extensive experience serving businesses with our unique needs?
  • Do they have reviews from my professional peers to help me understand how their products will map onto a business environment like ours?
  • If they’re leveraging AI, what are their systems and processes like around that? If they use machine learning for modeling, do they provide the model documentation regulators require?

Especially in the age of automation, when businesses are offloading crucial workflows onto computers, the importance of trusting your tools cannot be overstated.

Keep it simple

Most B2B buyers don’t want to jump straight into a conversation with a salesperson. B2B buyer journeys are often rather nuanced, with multiple stages. 

Businesses will initiate a purchase only after passing through the stages of problem recognition, due diligence, comparative research, and solution evaluation. 

From the customer’s perspective, the B2B buying process can quickly get complicated. That’s why it’s imperative for B2B SaaS companies to keep things simple

Rather than making a prospect jump right into a call or consultation as their first point of contact, you could meet customers on their own terms by:

  • Providing an online knowledge base that helps prospects learn about your product online in great detail.
  • Allowing shoppers to access a self-guided demo with Demo Automation software, which is one of the fastest growing categories on G2, the world’s largest SaaS peer-to-peer review site
  • Making it easy to sign up online rather than jumping through hoops or talking to your sales team.

In addition to streamlining the buyer’s journey and empowering self-serve research, keeping things simple sends a subconscious message to your buyers. 

They’ll think, “Hey, these guys get it. I’m incredibly busy, and all those other software companies are making things harder than they need to be. This self-guided demo looks pretty promising.” 

People are busy, stressed, and often overworked. Meet them where they’re at; make B2B SaaS buying easy.

G2, AI, and the future of B2B software buying

Software marketplace G2  is leading the charge into the future of software buying.

100% of Fortune 500 companies are now referencing G2 as part of their SaaS buying process, a powerful testament to the consumerization trend we discussed. 

They’re charting another trend as well. AI is reshaping the B2B SaaS space at an astonishing rate. It’s G2’s largest-growing product category, growing by 44% last year. 

In 2023 alone, G2 recorded:

  • 3,450% year-over-year increase in AI image generators
  • 1,633% YoY increase in AI chatbots 
  • 775% YoY increase in AI code generation tools

In addition to the whirlwind of activity around AI products, another key trend is the global democratization of software.

B2B buyers are only interested in getting the best possible products. Where that company resides tends to be much less important.

G2’s data suggests that these trends—both in B2B SaaS solutions and the SaaS buying process—will only continue to accelerate.

The company is at the forefront of these industry changes with Monty, its virtual SaaS-buying assistant fueled by OpenAI.

G2 AI Monty

G2 was founded to change the way people research and discover software, making it accessible, free, reliable, real-time, and driven by customer voice.

However, a challenge remained: G2’s search functionality was helpful for discovering software, but only if you already knew what you wanted.

Buyers were overwhelmed, often stuck or getting lost – across 160k+ products and services in 2k+ categories.

With OpenAI supercharging the generative AI movement, G2 saw an opportunity to embrace AI to improve search.

While this may seem like a small improvement, it has major implications for the future of software buying and discovery.

In April 2023, G2 launched “Monty,” the first AI-powered business software advisor, named after the company’s mascot, Monty the mongoose.

With G2’s robust, first-party dataset, it capitalized on its unique position to build Monty on top of it — taking the generic ChatGTP experience to a new level with domain-specific data.

Consulting with Monty to purchase software is like talking to an industry veteran who’s had in-depth conversations with millions of software buyers about their unique experiences.

Monty also has built-in expertise based on how G2’s analysts categorize different products, meaning that you don’t even have to know the category you’re looking for in order for Monty to assist you.

Monty can help B2B SaaS shoppers find exactly what they need by:

  • Pointing you in the right direction based on a spoken explanation of your needs.
  • Linking you to G2 web pages loaded with valuable info on the products that best match what you’re looking for.
  • Once you’ve narrowed down your list, Monty will send you to a custom-tailored comparison page about the products you’re considering.

Since G2 understands that B2B SaaS buying is highly collaborative, they’ve made it easy to share product lists and requirements with your team.

G2’s Monty offers a customized and personalized experience tailored to each individual, providing a superior B2B buying journey.

Before we close out, let’s discuss a few best practices for buying B2B software.

B2B software buying: Tips for success

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing what other B2B buyers are doing and expecting.

But how is your company engaging in its purchasing dialogues and decisions?

Business success increasingly depends on making the smartest possible shopping decisions about our enterprise software tools.

With that in mind, here are some quick tips to follow when making your next B2B SaaS purchase.

If at all possible, demo the product you’re considering buying

This can’t be emphasized enough. In the same way a picture is worth a thousand words, a demo is worth a thousand reviews.

Reading peer reviews is absolutely essential as well. But if you have the opportunity to try the product, don’t pass that up.

Companies and teams have unique workflows and business requirements, and the only way to know if a product maps onto yours is to try it out. 

Compare alternatives on available features, price, and integration capabilities

No one disputes the importance of comparison shopping when making a B2C purchase, so why wouldn’t you adopt the same level of thoroughness for your business?

Pay special attention to advanced features, meaningful price differences, and the product’s ability to integrate with other tools in your stack.

Leverage online marketplaces like G2 for unbiased information about B2B SaaS products

As valuable as a vendor’s website can be for product information, sites like G2 are the only source for unbiased B2B SaaS reviews and information.

Fueling your buying journey with unbiased data is absolutely crucial for insights you can trust and rely on with confidence.

No barber will ever tell you that you don’t need a haircut. And no B2B SaaS vendor is likely to point out the flaws in their product.

Come learn with Sage Intacct

The winds of change are blowing when it comes to B2B SaaS buying. You should be adapting both in terms of the buying experience you provide to prospects and in your own SaaS buying practices and mindset.

Sign up for the Modern SaaS Finance Forum to hear industry leaders share exclusive insights on these trends.

Hosted by Sage Intacct on June 5th, 2024, this full-day digital summit has three different tracks for CFOs, controllers, and RevOps managers at SaaS, AI, and high-tech companies.

Join 2,000+ industry experts, investors, and peers as they navigate the strategies you need for SaaS finance success in 2024.

You can sign up for June 5, or listen on-demand post-event, further, you can join for just one 20-minute session, or multiple of the 20-minute sessions. 

Sage sees all the trends we’ve just discussed in our customers’ buying journeys, with G2 playing a central role. We’re incredibly grateful that thousands of customers have voted us the market leader in billing software for medium-sized businesses.

Register for the Modern SaaS Finance Forum here.