When business-to-business (B2B) buyers feel confident about their ability to navigate a buying decision they are 2.6 times more likely on average to expand an existing relationship than those who lack confidence, according to Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com). 

However, most marketing organizations focus their growth strategies on growing customer satisfaction and do little to build customer confidence in themselves and their ability to make the right decisions, notes the research group.

“Marketing leaders report their teams now play a direct role in pursuing more than half of all leads associated with expanding business inside existing accounts,” said Martha Mathers, managing vice president in Gartner’s Marketing practice. “However, 85% of commercial leaders report they are leaving significant amounts of growth on the table. There’s a clear disconnect here and an urgency to understand what marketing can do to truly help drive growth in existing accounts, particularly with signs of economic uncertainty in view.”

In a study of more than 1,000 B2B customers, Gartner found that typical growth strategies rooted in customer satisfaction or motivating customers to change have little impact on whether or not customers will buy more from a supplier. In fact, 78% of B2B buyers with new business needs are as likely to choose a new provider as they are to expand their account with the incumbent — regardless of how satisfied they are with their current supplier. Customer satisfaction more than doubles the likelihood of repurchase, or continuing with the status quo, but has no measurable effect on growth.

Instead, Gartner found that B2B customers who feel confident in their ability to make the right purchase decision are more likely to buy more from their suppliers. This is because decision confidence helps customers feel capable of change and overcoming the challenges associated with that change.

“It’s about building customer confidence in themselves,” added Mathers. “Marketing organizations that can build customer confidence in their ability to make decision change that’s good for their business will not only differentiate themselves from the competition, but will be better positioned to drive high-quality growth.”

B2B buying groups tend to feel more confident when they have consensus around the need for change, and they feel they have identified the right considerations and have asked the right questions when making a decision, according to Gartner.