Converting SMB Software Buyers Is No Easy Thing, Study Finds

Almost 70% of small to medium-sized businesses plan to increase their spend on software this year, but moving those buyers through the funnel may pose a challenge to vendors,  according to 2023 Global Software Buying Trends, a study from Gartner Digital Markets. 

The study recommends that software providers engage with prospects via email, webinars and podcasts and to improve their visibility on search engines, software review sites and social media.

Of those polled, 37% of businesses are buying new software to increase their productivity. The top reasons: 32% have outgrown their current technology and 30% have concerns about security and cyber attacks.

User review and ratings influence the purchase decisions of 41%. Customer reviews are trusted by 49%, and peer recommendations by 50%. But recommendations from industry influencers are used by only 37%.

Buyers take these actions to maintain relationships with software providers following purchase:

  • Using support features (chat, email, scheduled meetings) to communicate with the software provider — 47%
  • Using a customer portal to manage your account or communicate with the software provider — 43%
  • Confirming and measuring specific business outcomes related to the software — 42%
  • Attending regular (monthly or quarterly) business review meetings with software provider — 40%
  • Engaging and/or collaborating with the software provider on their product roadmap — 37%
  • Attending webinars or training sessions with the software provider — 36%
  • Interacting with other users in online forums managed by the software provider — 34%
  • Assigning dedicated internal point-of-contact to assist with onboarding — 34%
  • Leveraging personalized post-implementation content from the software provider — 31%



The main barriers to purchase are mismatches in pricing expectations, followed by ambiguous or contradictory information and poor sales presentations or pitches. 

In addition, 45% say a steep learning curve or downtime may daunt them when adopting new technology.

Vendors should know that purchases want content or interactions to be in their primary language when dealing with these channels:

  • Support services — 40%
  • Training courses and materials — 40%
  • Software communication (emails, updates, etc.) — 32%
  • Vendor websites and landing pages — 31%
  • Video tutorials — 28%
  • Independent user reviews — 27%
  • Third-party software research — 26%
  • White papers — 16%

Gartner surveyed 1,513 respondents from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and France from September 2022 - October 2022. They represent organizations with less than $1 billion in revenue and 2,999 employees in the financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, IT, marketing and retail industries. 

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