Buyer Behavior in 2024: Six Ways Vendors Can Thrive in the New Software Economy

June 12, 2024

Under pressure. There’s no better way to describe the intensity of the selling environment that B2B software vendors face. That’s why knowing today’s buyer and their context is more important than ever. What’s shaping their context? You guessed it, AI.

I’m excited to share that today we published our 2024 G2 Buyer Behavior Report, based on an annual survey of more than 1,900 B2B software buyers. With these findings, we strive to help go-to-market leaders at software and services companies understand buyers’ plans, behaviors, and attitudes --and how AI is reshaping them — so that they can navigate the turbulence to achieve growth. 

What’s top of mind for 1,900+ B2B software buyers across the globe in 2024 

So what did we find? The promise of AI is causing software buyers to open up their wallets. Still, while a majority believe software budgets are increasing over the upcoming year, the opportunity to win and retain the customers that hold those budgets is becoming more challenging. Buyers aren’t willing to wait to see value, deal velocity is slowed, and their software investments are seeing extra scrutiny from executive leaders looking to reign in costs across their businesses.

There’s not a software CEO who doesn’t have to answer the question, “What’s your AI story?” And for good reason. Our research found that while businesses are fervently seeking how AI can supercharge their strategy, they vary in how they feel it can make an impact, as well as their attitudes based on region, size, and industry. We analyzed this by identifying and making comparisons based on their AI maturity and purchasing behavior across five self-reported software buyer groups: AI Power-Users, AI Learners, AI Laggards, AI Buyers, and AI Non-Buyers. 

It’s often said to meet buyers where they are. This year’s research found that buyers lean heavily on the trust in the voice of peers. This year’s buyer is also more security conscious than ever, meaning vendors must be prepared to proactively offer answers to questions of risk.

How vendors can adapt, catering to what matters most for today’s buyers

Based on these findings from this year’s report, here are six pieces of advice to help software and services vendors thrive in today’s landscape: 

  1. Prioritize C-suite engagement. In 2024, executive and legal teams are a part of stricter sign offs. During the software selection process, the CFO always or frequently holds the final decision-making power (79%), while the legal team tends to slow or block purchase (61%). According to 41% of respondents, a C-suite employee or the CFO or highest-ranking financial officer is the person ultimately responsible for signing off on a purchase decision.
  2. How? Demonstrate your AI ROI for the C-suite. 72% of C-suite employees said their organization has a formal ROI goal for its AI investment, compared to 67% of managers-SVPs (5% of whom said they didn’t know) and 60% of ICs. It’s also worth noting that buyers in the C-suite are more likely to describe themselves as ‘AI Power-Users’ – a group that has higher expectations for achieving ROI from AI software/AI-powered software compared to other software purchases.
  3. Lead with security and privacy credentials to facilitate easier assessments and remove purchasing barriers. For every category of software, security is the #1 or #2 consideration for software purchases. 
  4. Build a quick-win strategy focused on visible value impact. 57% of software buyers expect to see positive ROI from their purchases within 3 months of purchase and 11% expect this immediately after purchase. Reduce your risk of customer churn by taking every opportunity to show your value right out of the gate.
  5. Don’t let buyer self-service motivations overshadow your invitation to engage. While buyers prefer self-service at most stages of the buying process, the majority still want vendor touchpoints. Answering when it was most useful for a sales professional to contact them, most buyers said it was the research stage (34%). That was followed by evaluation (23%) and discovery (21%). Only 3% said they never want to talk with sales. 
  6. Bring service partners into the software sales process early.  More than two-thirds of software buyers (69%) say service providers/implementers are a factor in their software decision-making process. And 38% say they start considering service providers during the research phase for purchasing software – with about one-quarter (24%) saying they begin considering service providers even earlier during the discovery phase.

Read the full report today! 

These takeaways provide a high level overview of what we found this year, but there’s a whole lot more to dive into. The report delves into buyer expectations, how the buying process is evolving, the importance of buyer trust, security standards, and the role of service providers.

To check these out and discover additional insights from this year’s survey, download the complete 2024 G2 Buyer Behavior Report

Buyer Behavior in 2024: Six Ways Vendors Can Thrive in the New Software Economy G2’s 2024 Buyer Behavior Report examines the current state of software buying, based on results of an annual survey of 1,900+ global B2B software decision-makers.
Chris Voce As VP of Research at G2, Chris Voce serves as a technology subject matter expert, ensuring the accurate representation of a broad group of software markets while leading the company’s team of analysts. Having worked in the technology industry for over two decades, Voce brings more than 15 years of analyst experience to his role at G2, previously serving as a Vice President & Research Director at Forrester. At Forrester, Voce led a team of analysts focused on connecting technology innovation to digital business transformation, where he was responsible for the development and execution of research on areas including employee experience (EX), internet of things (IoT), 5G, mobile, edge computing, AI infrastructure, workforce technology, cloud computing, and communications & collaboration technology. He was a strategic advisor to high-tech marketing and product strategy executives and enterprise technology leaders. Most recently, Voce served as a customer engagement strategist for Citrix, engaging with senior executives at strategic clients, partners, and prospects to guide their transformations and embrace the experience as part of their business strategy. As an industry expert and analyst, he’s been quoted in notable business and technology media, including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, The New York Times, and CIO Magazine.