More and more, when you need help determining which software you should buy for CRM, accounting or other applications for your business, you go to sites like G2 Crowd. Because in just under two years, G2 Crowd, one of the leading peer review sites for enterprise software, has seen the number of written notices increase further. 6X, from 60K to 390K. And about 68% of these reviews were written by small and medium business software users.
The Impact of Software Revision Sites
Mike Fauscette, director of research at G2 Crowd, shares with us how evaluation sites like G2 change the buying process for small businesses, why so many opinions come from small businesses, and what types of applications / technologies companies are seeking information and advice on.
Here is a transcript of our conversation. Watch the video below to see the full conversation or click on the built-in SoundCloud player.
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Small Business Trends: Give Us some of your personal experience.
Mike Fauscette : February 1st will be two years in this role of Chief of Research. Before that, I was at IDC for 10 years. Cabinet of analysts. And I was responsible for the research group on business applications. So, it's a worldwide cover through most of it. The types of business software we know. Before that, I was in the industry. I was at AutoDesk, I did some startups and I was at PeopleSoft in the late 90s.
Small Business Trends: Perhaps you could tell us a bit more about G2 Crowd.
Mike Fauscette : The company was founded by people who originally created a company called Big Machines, which Oracle bought, and which were in the # 39; CPQ (configure-price-quote) space. When they left the company and left Oracle, they were trying to think of something to do and they realized that the sites of open sourcing and overhaul were starting to take on importance.
Many review sites that were at the time for B2B were really … more or less in a Google business model. They were really on the paid placement and trying to get the seller in front of the buyer. Not that it's bad; it's just what happened where they were.
They wanted to make a site that was more adjacent to analyst firms that really focused on data collection. Our reviews are about 36 questions or more, so it's really a poll. And could push that into something that could help buyers across the spectrum. Today, we see about a third [of reviews] of the business, a third of the middle, and a third is small.
When I started, I mean we were at 60,000 reviews, so that was two years ago. We will end January somewhere over 380 thousand comments. We make 3,000-3,500 a day now.
Small Business Trends: Wow. So where do these critics come from? Are they focused on certain areas of the software?
Mike Fauscette : Well, they are really in the spectrum. They are the users of the software. They happen to us in different ways. Some people just wonder by and find the site, and so we call it organic. Some we go out … We have awareness campaigns that we run all the time to try to get because, frankly, you are a businessman and you use software the first thing you think the morning is not gee, I think I'll go see that. We try to put this in front of you for you to think about it.
Some vendors will come to us and help us run campaigns because obviously we have developed a lot of expertise to get advice. But they come from the users of the software. This can range from administration to the use of a sales force automation tool or marketing automation. And then, again, in almost every category you can think of in the world of business-to-business software.
Trends of Small Businesses : It is obvious that this is what motivates people to read critics and take advantage of these criticisms to make a decision about what to do. purchase. What's driving people to leave comments?
Mike Fauscette : Well, there are several different types. And, again, organic is purely "I'm stopping and was happy to leave a criticism", which we get. We offer incentives that look like what you would see from a market research firm for polls. So five, ten, 15 dollar gift cards for Starbucks or whatever; Amazon, whatever. This is an incentive.
We have a charity called G2 Gives and if you leave a comment, we will donate money to the charity we are sponsoring at that time. We are building houses right now, which is great, but we were doing hurricane relief before that. Obviously, last year was terrible for hurricanes. We try to choose a charity that is at the top of the list and something that is quite critical, and then we can help you. We receive a lot of criticism this way.
Then the sellers ask the customers to review, so we get them too.
Trends of Small Businesses : What types of applications are really the most trafficked? Is it related to the RCMP? Is it sales?
Mike Fauscette : I think if you think about it mostly small businesses, you see a lot of CRM all in one or CRM-ish. It could be the automation of the sales force or the management of contacts or that kind of spectrum. Marketing … For a small business, email marketing tends to be more widespread, but some use more complex tools. Some use a complete CRM and marketing solution in one solution, so we receive a lot of traffic there. Human resources, again, quite common. So basic human resources and then in the benefits administration and that sort of thing. And then financial services, especially in small businesses, we have a lot of traffic to the accounting category or even to the ERP system category because a lot of small and medium businesses, medium-sized businesses, since the cloud has become so prevalent that They are moving from unique applications to product suites like the company would have done in the past. They are looking for the best fit.
One of the things that they can do in each category on every page of the site you are looking at, we have a way to compare providers. You can choose a small business or a medium-sized business and what it does is sort of so that you only see the comments of the small business or you only see the comments that come from the medium-sized businesses. So in this way, you have a better idea of what are people like me … What do they think of this software and how do they use it and what business problems are they trying to solve?
Small Business Trends : How did evaluation sites like G2 Crowd change the buying process as a whole, from the point of view of small businesses ?
Mike Fauscette : We have a service called "Buyer Advisor Service", and so we see first-hand that the small business is coming to the site and maybe [does] a little research of Make research by themselves, then they will discuss or ask a question in a forum … We have an automated assistant who will guide you to ask questions about what you need. What size of business? How many users? What problem are you trying to solve? Things like that.
We have several ways to find the suggestion and, more often than not, in the small business, it's the short list. So, they come with three suppliers or four or whatever and who they are buying from. And we will make presentations to these vendors for them if they talk or use the buyer advisor or leave a forum because we have relationships with many of these vendors. If we do not do it, because we do not discriminate against a provider who pays us or not, any vendor that is on our site, s? It is the best, we will contact them and pass them your information . and have them … Or at least try to get them to contact you. Sometimes, surprisingly, companies do not follow, but most of the time, they do. You would think that you would not refuse a …
Small Business Trends : A beautiful mine, right?
Mike Fauscette : The opportunity. Right. But sometimes. Most of the time, they make that buying decision there and they can even go down, oh, that's the best choice.
What I have seen in recent years is that the sources of information you trust and how you get information and where you are going to buy start in your world of consumption. I know you and I would both say when did I buy the last thing from Amazon and did you read the reviews? Well, of course, I read the reviews. I mean, even if I'm in Best Buy, I buy something, I'm reading Amazon reviews because you know?
In business, the same things happen. If I buy something, I read reviews because it's important to understand what people are saying that use it; not what the marketing literature says. And I do a lot of investigations, as you can imagine. I did a survey last fall about … trying to figure out what buyers were looking for and what they trusted, what they did not do. Most importantly, from a trusting point of view, they trusted peers; people love them the most. The second source was the peer review sites, so the product review websites, and then it was stopped from there. Professional organizations, social networks, and almost the bottom were sellers. Sellers sellers.
And, in fact, it's one of my favorite questions we ask: When do you usually communicate with the seller? And 64% of them said that they contact the seller of the seller when they have already made a purchase decision.
Small Business Trends : Basically, you are a commission taker at that time.
Mike Fauscette : Yes, you are an order taker at this time because we trust online sources of information, especially when you get a transparent site that has a validation of confirmation. On Amazon, you see this verified buyer and then you think this review is important. Same for us. We check and validate each review. We do not allow anyone to leave notice that we do not know who they are. You need to connect with LinkedIn and we validate that you could use it and we even ask you to submit a screenshot of yourself using the software connected to the current version so that we know that you are there. 39, have actually used. We try to make it as reliable and transparent as possible because trust is … You know, trust online is fragile but it's really important.
Trends of Small Businesses : And I guess there is a lot of power in these journals and that power is increasing.
Mike Fauscette : Yes.
Small Business Trends : So even salespeople might be tempted to find ways to force positive reviews out there.
Mike Fauscette : Yes. I do not know what is the total number but the last time I checked it was … I would say that is 10s of thousands of reviews that we rejected for that reason. For this and other reasons. The person did not use the software. We could prove that they were employees. You know, things like that. Or they were robots. Sometimes people try to use a bot to leave them too. Or they were plagiarizing. There are a lot of different things that we check and it is important that we make sure that we can take care of that transparency and maintain it.
On the website, we explain all the algorithms and the way we collect the data and all these things because, again, it's very important to keep that trust.
Trends of Small Businesses : This is a bit like the last question. Can you say when … For example, a technology like AI … There is so much talk in the general atmosphere about this, but can you start seeing in magazines when it starts to take his flight?
Mike Fauscette : We do it … In fact we are setting up a micro site of trends this week that will go up and AI is one of those trends, obviously, that we are watching very closely . And there are many ways to think about indicators. One of them is that we are starting to have a lot more traffic to this category or, if there is no category, we start having a lot of inquiries about the things that relate to this new category that we have to create. This is one.
The other end is the end of the provider. We are starting to see many vendors in these small vendors appear in this space. It's not just a Salesforce: Oracle, Microsoft, and get into that. But there are a lot of start-ups doing really specific things with that I'm not … You know, I'm an automatic learning platform. I'm doing text to speech. I'm doing … We're starting to see all these kinds of details. And when we see this, then, of course, we start to pay much more attention to the category and you can really see it grow.
We did a lot of comparisons using algorithms and we have a new index called the Momentum Index that we are going to roll out next month and it is designed to do exactly what you just said. It is designed to look at a supplier and evaluate their momentum in a market. So, rather than the satisfaction or the presence on the market, that we have on the site now … And we have a bunch of index reports, too … We can now watch them and say, hey, this society is now heated. Technology is really gaining ground in the market. So, that would help a buyer who was trying to find something that had a big competitive advantage. Clearly, products with strong momentum that grow rapidly over a short period of time are attracting a lot of attention and attention because they are benefiting a lot.
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This is part of the series of one-on-one interviews with opinion leaders. The transcript has been edited for publication. If it's an audio or video interview, click on the built-in player above, or subscribe via iTunes or via Stitcher.