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The Importance of a Human Touch When Making Large Purchases

Andrea Fryrear Sep 16, 2016 0 Comments

This week’s Data Byte looks at the research and purchase habits of consumers when making a fairly large purchase. (We asked each respondent to tell us what a “large purchase” means to them, but most respondents placed it in the $500-$1,000 range.)

The results were intriguing, particular if you’re in marketing or sales for B2C products that cost upwards of $500.

While there is still a marked preference for online research, an overwhelming majority of buyers,would like any necessary interactions with salespeople to be in-person.

Let’s take a look at some of the other patterns we discovered.


Frequency of Large Purchases

We asked our survey respondents, “How often are you involved in the decision making process for making large purchases?” One of the most interesting findings was from the 18-24 year old audience.

47.4% of this group reported that they’re involved in these decisions, “More than once per quarter/frequently.” The flip side of this data is that these respondents were more likely than most other age groups to assign a lower value for what they consider, “large” purchases.

Just over 15% characterized a large purchase as around $200; the only group with a higher percentage identifying the $200 price point as “large” were the 65-74 year-old respondents.

The 25-34 year olds are involved in making decisions about large purchases the most, with 54% saying they contribute to these choices frequently.


When Making Decisions for Large Purchases, It's No Salesperson, No Problem

Unfortunately for salespeople everywhere, most large purchases are made without having a conversation with sales.

Here’s the breakdown by age group for those who have made one or more large purchases in the past year without any sales involvement:

  • 80% of 18-24 year olds
  • 75% of 25-34 year olds
  • 62% of 35-44 year olds
  • 45% of 45-54 year olds
  • 34% of 55-64 year olds
  • 6% of 65-74 year olds

Obviously, younger demographics report they are far more likely to buy without interacting with a salesperson, while the oldest buyers are highly unlikely to purchase with some sales conversations.


What Professional Product Reviewers Say Matters

Except for the 55-64 age group, the majority of buyers prefer to get their information from professional product review sites. The 55-64 year-old demographic prefers individual or influencer product review blog posts.

In both cases, product research is happening off a controlled site. Brands and marketers must rely on what others are saying -- good, old-fashioned word of mouth -- to drive many purchase decisions.

To be clear, this statistic doesn’t mean you can abandon your own content creation.

Many people still take the time to check out a company’s owned media, specifically blogs and infographics:

  • 15% of 18-24 year olds
  • 16% of 25-34 year olds
  • 12% of 35-44 year olds
  • 8% of 45-54 year olds
  • 4% of 55-64 year olds
  • 5% of 65-74 year olds

Take advantage of any opportunity to contribute your voice to the buying process; make sure to keep up your on-site efforts via blogging.


When in Sales, In-Person Interactions Preferred

When a salesperson is involved in a purchase decision, the vast majority of buyers from all age groups would like the interaction to be face-to-face.

At 75%, the 35-44 year old age group had the lowest percentage of those preferring in-person interactions with sales. The highest percentage came from the 65-74 year-old respondents, 94% of whom would like their sales process to take place in real life.

Younger respondents will tolerate some other forms of sales interactions, but in relatively small doses.

18-24 year-olds prefer:

  • In-person: 80%
  • Phone: 11.4%
  • Chat: 5.7%
  • Email: 2.9%

25-34 year-olds prefer:

  • In-person: 81.3%
  • Phone: 8.8%
  • Chat: 2.2%
  • Email: 7.7%

35-44 year-olds prefer:

  • In-person: 74.6%
  • Phone: 8.5%
  • Chat: 1.4%
  • Email: 15.5%

45-54 year-olds prefer:

  • In-person: 79.6%
  • Phone: 9.3%
  • Chat: 3.7%
  • Email: 7.4%

55-64 year-olds prefer:

  • In-person: 91.7%
  • Phone: 0%
  • Chat: 2.8%
  • Email: 5.6%

65-74 year-olds prefer:

  • In-person: 93.8%
  • Phone: 0%
  • Chat: 0%
  • Email: 6.3%


Salesperson Pet Peeves (That You Can Fix)

Although respondents would like their sales interactions to take place in person, they identified shockingly similar issues when dealing with salespeople.

An examination of open ended responses to the question, “What is your number one pet peeve when communicating with a salesperson about a major purchase?” fell into three main categories;

  • Salesperson is too pushy, trying to force them to buy something they’re not interested in or upsell them aggressively.
  • The salesperson is poorly informed about the product he or she is selling, or is unable to answer the buyer’s questions.
  • The salesperson knows what they’re talking about, but they purposely gloss over shortcoming or play up a product’s strengths to make a sale.

Some of the most enlightening quotes we got were:

“I hate when they try to sell me something I had no interest when asking a questions about something I do want to buy. I don't care about the other stuff. I just want my question answered.”

“They always try to push you to spend more money and exploit anything you aren't an expert in to get you to spend more money or buy features/things you don't actually need”

“When I ask about specific features of a product but the salesperson repeats generic selling-points without even hearing the question”

“Sometimes they can be evasive, not as upfront about certain details as they should be.”

Clearly, if someone has taken time out of their day to interact with your sales team, you need to do everything in your power to ensure that they are well informed, responsive to the customers actual needs, and always honest in the information they provide.


Respondent Demographics

This survey was taken by 302 respondents, with the majority identifying as female. The breakdown in ages was as follows:

  • 18-24 years old: 11.8%
  • 25-34 years old: 29.6%
  • 35-44 years old: 23.1%
  • 45-54 years old: 17.4%
  • 55-64 years old: 12.1%
  • 65-74 years old: 5.9%


Andrea Fryrear is the chief content officer for Fox Content, where she uses agile content marketing principles to drive content strategy and implementation for her clients. She also writes for and edits The Agile Marketer, a community of marketers on the front lines of the agile marketing transformation. She geeks out on all things agile and content on LinkedIn and Twitter

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