Marketers beware: buying cycles are shifting dramatically

In this bonus episode of the ABM Podcast, we discussed the findings from our latest Customer Buying Index (CBX®). Check out some of the highlights now!

Alisha Lyndon

by Alisha Lyndon

December 20, 2022

Unpacking the insights from the Customer Buying Index (CBX®) Survey 2022.

In this episode of the ABM Podcast, we discussed the findings from our latest Customer Buying Index (CBX®) Survey 2022 with Robert Hollier, Partner Momentum ITSMA, Julie Schwarz, Senior VP of Research, Momentum ITSMA, and Adam Bennington, Head of Consulting, Momentum ITSMA.

Check out some of the highlights below, or download the full podcast.

CBX® is Momentum ITSMA’s longstanding research study, conducted every six months across c-suite decision makers in the Global 2000 on investment decisions over $500K. CBX provides a rolling pulse on how executives engage suppliers, including changes in the buying processes and the most effective activities leading to revenue.

What are your key takeaways from the research?

Executives’ changing priorities grabbed Robert’s attention: “Improving the customer experience, managing cyber risk, and talent acquisition & attrition; we’ve seen these themes before but now they’re clearly established at the top of the list.”

Both Adam and Julie underscored the importance of content.

“Executives are spending 13 hours a week consuming external content—a staggering amount of time,” says Adam. “We also saw a 56% uplift in video consumption, making it the most popular content format.”

“Executives are using content to make better decisions and inform their business plan,” says Julie. “We should be thinking about what tools and ways of presenting that content will best help them.”

What is content’s importance, and how can you elevate its impact?

Robert emphasizes the ‘halo effect’: “The quality of your content translates into a positive impression of you as the provider.”

There is no ‘silver bullet’ content. However, as inflationary pressures and energy security concerns take hold, “Executives don’t want to be spending budget on business as usual,” says Robert. “They want to invest in strategic innovation and it’s driving appetite for more and better thought leadership.”

The demand is there, but how can you get customers to consume your content?

“Contrary to popular belief, people don’t have goldfish attention spans,” says Julie. “That said, it’s really challenging to capture and sustain attention. The content that’s going to sustain engagement is interactive and multisensory—ideally, you want to combine bitesize content with research data and in-depth analysis so people can pick and choose and dig deeper.”

How important is human interaction throughout the buying cycle?

“During pandemic there was a lot of chatter that maybe customers might prefer a digital only buying journey,” says Robert. “This might be true for commodity purchases but it’s certainly not true for strategic purchases.”

Digital remains important, not least because customers are in a hybrid world. “But human touchpoints are absolutely critical,” confirms Robert.

“Digital interactions are good but they’re not sufficient,” agrees Julie. “We’re talking about a purchase process that can take 18 months or even two years. The human touch is incredibly important. Customers want to do business with people who know them, understand their business problems, and can deliver on their promises.”

What are the most significant challenges in adopting human/digital orchestration?

“The purpose of your ABM programme is to forge and sustain constant engagement and conversation with a discrete audience,” explains Adam. “You have to channel value exchanges at every touchpoint in a way that resonates with the human at the other end of it.”

It all comes back to knowing the target audience and their challenges and investing in creative, diverse experiences to engage them rationally and emotionally. Everything has to be “relevant, timely, and meaningful [and] personalised to the individual and their role in the enterprise.”

Flexibility is essential. “It’s not just about having a plan and strategy, it’s about being ready to react when opportunity presents itself,” adds Adam.

How do you optimize multichannel engagement?

There are no shortcuts, unfortunately. But data-driven strategic coordination and collaboration are vital.

“A 360 degree customer database enables you to track what’s happening with your assets and beyond,” says Julie. “You need to combine internal and external data with sales, marketing finance, delivery and customer success data. It really is quite a challenge.”

“No plan ever survives contact with the enemy as they say, but you’ve got to start somewhere,” says Robert. “It’s partly about marketing embracing the account-centric view to align with sales more effectively.”

Adam recommends building an ABM charter and convening an ABM council to align sales and marketing leaders, identify priorities, ensure transparency and establish clear responsibilities. “You need to have frank conversations about what’s needed to drive growth and standardize your content development and channel activation,” he confirms.

Our survey indicates vendors are more likely to switch suppliers than before. What can marketers do to counteract that?

Vendors need to have “combined offensive and defensive postures,” as Adam puts it. ABM practitioners must work closely with sales teams to identify new opportunities while “never taking customer relationships for granted.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

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