WASHINGTON — No matter how complex B2B buying is, corporate purchases are still heavily influenced by pillars of old-school salesmanship, according to new research from Finn Partners.

The 2019 B2B Buyers Influence Report found that product demos and trials are critical to making B2B sales. This was followed by pricing information and more information on products and services.

Personal interactions with sellers, as well as the information they provide, are also key influences in making final buying decisions. Social media, however, is not.

Debuting the study at PRovoke19 last week, Barry Reicherter, who oversees Finn Partners’ research and measurement, said those and other key findings offer insights that marketers on the seller’s side can leverage in advancing product sales through communications, as well as help shape sales strategy.

“Our profession needs to make better connections to the measures that drive growth — this includes the positive impact to buyer journey. So understanding better what information, attributes and interactions need to be communicated and achieved will guide PR/comms activities,” he said.

Obtaining those insights required Finn Partners conducting one of the largest studies to date on the subject, as the B2B purchasing process has largely been overlooked in favor of B2C buying, Reicherter said.

The B2B Buyers Influence Report is based on a global survey of 800 B2B purchasers in North America, Europe and Asia across 15 industry sectors including technology, health, manufacturing, and more. Respondents oversaw purchases that cost anywhere from $50,000 to more than $1 million.

The research uncovered internal as well as external influences on purchases, determining that, on the buyer’s side, IT has the most sway in company purchasing decisions, primarily because IT leaders tend to be the most informed about the products and services being considered. Sector-specific consultants are also considered valuable sources of information, it found.

“B2B marketers are often most eager to build awareness and attract attention from those with the highest decision-making authority who may ultimately approve a purchase decision. While the survey results did show that those in an ownership/CEO position stood out for their influence across the various stages of the purchase decision, the results also highlighted the range of stakeholders who wield influence throughout the process,” the study said.

Industry sector and location impacted the results. For example, individuals in just three positions— senior managers, IT and finance — played critical roles in health-related purchases in the US, while a greater number of people were involved in Europe and APAC.