Why B2B Buyers Lie on Forms — & What to Do about It

The demand generation manager’s balancing act: you want to collect as much information from your buyers as possible, but you don’t want to turn your buyers off when they see the number of fields on your form.

Not to mention the added complication that B2B buyers (myself included!) are liars.

I’m not kidding. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve been confronted with a “phone number” field on a form and thought to myself, “Man, all I want to do is download a white paper (cue frustrated sigh)…Alright, Jenna, what numbers shall we use this time?” (I really should extend a public apology to whoever owns the numbers 555-5555 and 123-4567. Here are a few list-cleaning services that we recommend at Pardot to take care of form fiends like myself).

But I’m not the only one! According to data collected by MarketingSherpa a few years ago, B2B buyers are extremely hesitant to provide their personal information to companies. The following data was collected in 2008, but let’s be honest — how much more willing do you think people are to provide their personal information knowing full well the capabilities of today’s marketing and sales technologies? Probably less willing, if anything.

b2b buyers lie

According to MarketingSherpa’s data, buyers are most likely to submit their name, email address, and industry when filling out forms. But asking for a phone number or any other custom question? Forget it. Only 29% of buyers will always answer custom questions honestly. The rest are trying to dream up clever ways to bypass your system.

So what’s the solution?

Here’s what we propose. Since shorter forms have higher conversion rates, and since buyers are reluctant to provide too much of their personal information (especially at one time), use a tool with progressive profiling capabilities to decrease form length and collect buyer data over time. Progressive profiling allows you to select which form fields appear based on the information you already have about a particular lead. For example, if a lead has already filled out a form on your website and submitted their industry and company name, use progressive profiling to ask for their job title instead. This makes it easier for you to collect new information about your buyers without putting them on their guard — plus, it also means shorter and less repetitive forms for your leads. It’s an easy win-win!

This is what progressive profiling might look like:

Form 1

First Name: Harry

Last Name: Potter

Email Address: harrypotter@gryffindoralumni.net

Industry: Magic

Form 2

Email Address: harrypotter@gryffindoralumni.net (You want to be sure to always ask for an email address so that whatever they are requesting can be delivered to their inbox)

Company Name: Ministry of Magic

Job Title: Auror

As you can see in the example above, you’ve collected a lot of information about Harry with just two form completes — and he was only confronted with four form field max at any time during the conversion process.

But what about the lying?

Good point. Your buyers aren’t necessarily going to start answering every question truthfully just because your forms are shorter. Here’s the best advice we can offer:

  • Always be aware of the data reflected in the chart above. If you need to ask for a phone number, it’s highly likely that you’re going to get a fake string of numbers.
  • Use data-supplementing services like Data.com to fill in the gaps for prospects who are already in your database. Here’s a blog post on how this works in conjunction with marketing automation.
  • Regularly “spring clean” your database so that you’re getting rid of old and incorrect data. We recommend using these services.

What other techniques have you found to increase form conversions? Are there ways that you get around falsified data in forms? Let us know in the comments!