So much has changed in the professional services landscape over the past two years, including technology and software firms. Most firms have little idea how, or how much, buyer preferences have evolved. At the same time, technology & software firms operate in a crowded market place with relatively low barriers to entry, and services are often viewed by buyers as commodities. And while in many professional services industries, reputation, value, and relevance are rising. in technology and software, they are in decline. In a topsy-turvy world, what’s a firm like yours to do? One of the best places to start getting your questions answered is the 4th edition of our pioneering study of professional services buyers and sellers called Inside the Buyer’s Brain, Fourth Edition: Technology & Software Edition.

About the Research

At the Hinge Research Institute, we’ve studied more than 40,000 buyers and sellers–giving us unparalleled insight into the professional services industry.

Our most recent study that analyzes the technology & software industry details the perspectives of more than 300 buyers and 700 sellers, where we compare their perspectives across on the following topics:

  • How well do sellers really know their buyers?
  • What are buyers’ key business challenges?
  • How do clients feel about their service providers?
  • How do buyers search for service providers?
  • How do buyers evaluate service providers?
  • How do buyers make their final selection?

Here are three key insights that came out of our report.

Finding #1: Technology & software firm visibility is the lowest across all professional services industries

Our research found that the perception of a highly visible firm fell from 23.1% in 2020 to 14.6% in 2022 for professional services as a whole. The news is even worse for technology & software firms, which are perceived by buyers to have the least visibility across all industries. This begs the question: how many opportunities is your firm not considered for because prospects do not know who you are?

There is good news. Increasing your firm’s visibility is very much within your control.

How? Our research also shows that there is a relationship between relevancy and visibility. Firms that are rated as having high relevancy—which means they are perceived by their audiences as having a direct and positive impact on their top challenges and issues—also rate highly for visibility. Visibility can be improved with the right strategy and a marketing program that focuses heavily on educating audiences and demonstrating expertise.In other words, knowing your buyer can increase your relevancy, which in turn can raise your visibility.

Research Report

Inside the Buyer’s Brain, Technology & Software Edition

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Finding #2: Concerns around talent is the top growing issue for buyers

While the top challenge, “technology/data issues”, directly links to the services and advisory technology and software firms provide, the chart above shows that “Finding/keeping good people”, the #3 challenge for buyers, was the only challenge to have risen over the period 2020-2022. This data presents an opportunity for your firm to incorporate messaging around your offerings that address the people side of the equation—technology that helps with efficiency, transparency, and better decision-making for example.

Finding #3: Expertise is more important than ever in the evaluation process

What is the primary driver of influence when buyers are in evaluation mode? In a word: Expertise.

The chart above shows our findings on the top 5 methods used by buyers to evaluate technology and software firms. The prominent role of expertise in some shape or form is evident across each of the responses. Buyers aren’t looking for generalists. Instead, they want true experts to guide them through their (often expensive) technology and software engagements. And they want the proof points behind any claims of expertise.

If you are interested in growth, make sure your sales, marketing, and business development activities are aligned on one thing: freely sharing your expertise in educational content. Case studies are only part of the equation. You also need to produce a steady stream of content that addresses the business problems your audience is trying to solve. When prospective customers find and consume this valuable content, they begin to trust you—and are likely to think of you when they are ready to buy the kinds of services you offer.

A Few Final Thoughts

Customers can be fickle, and more than ever they are demanding that firms prove their expertise. To become the firm of choice in today’s marketplace you may need to do less explaining how your firm delivers value—and more showing your value in the form of educational, expertise-oriented thought leadership.

How do you do that? By far, the best way for your firm to stay relevant is by starting with research on your target audiences to understand their challenges and needs, where they look for information, and how they evaluate service providers. This type of research will validate–or challenge–your assumptions and decisions. Research, such as Inside the Buyer’s Brain, should show your firm how to deliver more value than your competitors.

Elizabeth Harr

How Hinge Can Help

To learn more of the findings from our Inside the Buyer’s Brain research, be sure to download the free Inside the Buyer’s Brain Executive Summary. You may also want to consider purchasing the full Inside the Buyer’s Brain study (available in five industry editions) or license a full study so that you can use the content in your marketing campaigns over the next 12 months. Contact the Hinge Research Institute for more details.