buyer behavior

Buyer Behavior has Changed. Marketers Need to Catch Up.

Momentum ITSMA Staff

July 23, 2021

When I spoke with Alisha Lyndon, Founder and CEO of Momentum, on the ABM podcast, she asked me a question that really got me thinking: What has been my biggest learning in the last 10 years?

Buyer Behavior has Changed. Marketers Need to Catch Up.

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When I spoke with Alisha Lyndon, Founder and CEO of Momentum, on the Account-Based Marketing podcast (beginning at 10:37), she asked me a question that really got me thinking:

What has been my biggest learning in the last 10 years?

Sometimes it’s hard to see change as it happens incrementally, so I really dug into this question.

To me, the biggest lesson over the past decade is in how buyer behavior has changed, which is, in turn, completely changing the role for solution providers.

Thinking on this a little more, I also realized that marketing habits are so ingrained that many marketers still haven’t picked up on this!

When I ask marketers to tell me who their buyers rely on most for information during the purchase process, most of them say that it’s their customers’ peers. Some may say industry analysts or a web search. Very few actually come up with the correct answer: the solution providers themselves!

Years ago, yes, a buyer’s peers were the most relied upon and credible source of information during the purchase process. But that has changed.

Today, that exalted position belongs to the solution providers. Every year, and more recently twice a year, ITSMA conducts its How Executives Engage Research with more than 400 senior executive buyers of high consideration services and solutions at large enterprise companies.

Our most recent studies have consistently shown that solution providers are the most trusted source of information.

I’m not saying that executives at large enterprises don’t receive substantial value from networking with their peers. They do. In fact, data shows that peers are still one of the top sources of information, and even more so for the business executives (21%) than IT executives (15%). So don’t give up on your executive engagement programs and customer advisory boards just yet.

However, during the purchase process, buyers want to hear from solution providers for guidance and insights into what’s next.

I see two primary reasons for this:

  • First, experience: Solution providers who work with companies across industries and geographies have a broader view and are able to tell buyers what others are doing and what is working well.
  • Second, innovation: Solution providers who are developing the technology of tomorrow are well-positioned to provide answers to buyers’ burning questions.

And maybe a third motive is that buyers are seeing how solution providers have really stepped up and responded to their change in behavior.

Buyers see solution providers doing a better job of providing them with more relevant and useful content. And, buyers believe salespeople are listening to their needs, tailoring their advice, and educating them.

In other words, marketers are adding value! All the tailored content, executive engagement programs, targeted lead generation, and account-based marketing programs are working.

I was proud of myself and my answer. I had some good data to back up my statements. I was smiling.

Then Alisha asked a follow-on question:

If you had talked to marketers five years ago, what would you have told them to prioritize?

You can listen to me mull this question over as I tried to run through all of my research in my head. I stand by the answer I came up with on the spot: get insight, as much as you can, however you can.

My advice to marketers is to not only get insight, but to use it to show that you truly understand the buyer’s business issues and can help them address those issues. Make sure your marketing is personalized—not by simply adding a person’s or a company’s name to a mass-generated email, but really demonstrate that you know what’s top of mind for buyers, you know what their business imperatives are, and you have the thought leadership, knowledge, and experience to help them look at their issues in a new light. Collaborate and innovate with them. That’s how you’ll spark conversations, deepen relationships, and most importantly, build trust.

It was great to talk to Alisha about how ITSMA’s How Executives Engage research has evolved over the years and how marketers can use this data to make their marketing programs more strategic.

If you have 30 minutes, I encourage you to listen to the full podcast episode because Alisha also speaks with Rob Leavitt and Dave Munn about how marketing is evolving into a growth driver and organization builder.