If you're offering a take-it-or-leave-it item, such as a subscription to a newsletter which they've never even seen, they might well take one look at the form and say no thanks.
A recent article at Smashing magazine called Innovative Techniques To Simplify Sign-Ups and Log-Ins inspired me to go around and look at some of the signup forms on industrial and scientific websites. By and large, despite the advances being made in design by many consumer sites, it's quite clear that the B2B world is failing to watch and follow.
Does it matter? Well, if you've convinced someone to buy something, and they know it's worth their while getting it, the chances are they'll battle through even a badly-designed form. But if you're just offering a take-it-or-leave-it item, such as a subscription to a newsletter which they've never even seen, they might well take one look at the form and say no thanks. I've written before about asking for irrelevant information, but even short forms, if badly designed, can put people off …and there's plenty of research to prove that.
Don't forget that B2B customers are also members of the general public, so they'll be quite used to seeing the sort of great forms you get on more consumer-oriented sites. They won't be comparing your site with your competitors, even if comparing your site with your competitors is all you do. Is it really such a big investment to get a good designer in to sort out your website forms?