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Vendors can try and win over small-business owners (SBOs) all they want, but oftentimes, their fate lies in the hands of those companies’ peers. In a September 2014 study by The Alternative Board, nearly half of SBOs worldwide said that when making a major purchasing decision about a new product or service, other business owners using the product or service were the most helpful human source. This was the highest response rate, with employees trailing a distant second.
Customer testimonials were also preferred over customer case studies. Fully 53% of respondents said testimonials gave them more confidence than case studies (47%) in a product or service they were thinking of purchasing. And SBOs want to read actual product and service feedback—not just see numbers. Fully 93% said reviews and analysis would increase their confidence when making a major business purchase decision, while the remaining 7% chose rankings and scores.
Vendors would be wise to appeal to SBOs’ demands for ratings and reviews by including these on their websites. Nearly 70% of respondents said an independent review of a product or service on a vendor’s site would make them most likely to trust the company. Considering that about one-quarter of respondents found information received directly from a vendor distrusting—and just 6% said it was “very” trusting—providing recommendations and reviews is more than just important, it’s critical.
March 2014 polling by Constant Contact found that small businesses weren’t afraid to use vendors, though. The majority (56.5%) of US small businesses and nonprofits studied were actually using three or more vendors, with 49.0% saying they worked with between three and four. The remaining 43.5% of respondents were involved with between one and two vendors.
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