Alisha Lyndon, founder and CEO of the growth consultancy behind the research, sat down with Antonia Wade, Chief Marketing Officer at Capita, to discuss the latest findings from 2020’s third wave of The Momentum Consumer Buying Index and find out why this marketing leader thinks it’s a wake up call. 

This interview has been edited and condensed. Listen to the full interview on the Account-Based Marketing podcast, available here.

AL: 42% of large businesses are finding it harder to buy in the current climate – selling and marketing is getting more and more complex. Does this ring true for your top accounts, and what impact will this have on marketing?

AW: “[At the start of the pandemic] we saw a lift in procurement processes, because people needed desperate help with unexpected challenges. But, brands and government are not going to want to make big working capital or policy commitments outside of dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. So, I think procurement and selling is going to get harder.

“Because of this, the role of marketing becomes quite important for making sure you are relevant. We can’t expect clients to figure out [for themselves] how to do business with Capita. We’re going to have to lean into account-based marketing, messaging, tone of voice. That has always been a sales and account management role, but now I think marketing needs to help with that upfront.”

AL: How can you increase the volume of communication when enterprise accounts don’t suit a one-size-fits-all model?

AW: “We’ve been hearing a lot about the ‘Amazon approach’ to personalisation, and I think the challenge is that people are going to expect a consumer-like marketing experience from B2B organisations. However, they will also expect us to be able to market into the buying group and understand that buying dynamic, and also expect us to be able to market enterprise to enterprise. So, there’s kind of three layers of marketing. We’re trying to use behavioural data, social data, and our CRM to get the right [personalisation]. That’s where you get a lot of innovation. [Marketers’] creative, problem-solving mindset uniquely positions us to be able to do that really well. We want to be seen as an equal partner to sales, versus sales being the custodian of the customer.

AL: Only 14% of businesses feel their suppliers really understand them. Is it marketing’s role to help bridge that buyer-supplier disconnect?

AW: “It’s our job to define and articulate relevance, differentiation and value creation. Sales did a lot of that in the past, so it’s a new muscle for us. Account-based marketing is the mechanism by which to do it. It’s about thinking deeply about the client and how you present [your business] to that client in a language they understand, and in a phased manner – don’t try to give everything at once. Marketing has a huge role to play in how we do that creatively and executive it strategically.”

AL: Relationships are critical in $3 million+ investments. What is marketing’s role in building client relationships?

AW: “Creating loyalty and engagement programmes is a part of ABM. Wherever you have valuable insights, your client probably wants to hear it. But, it’s hard to communicate with an accounts’ worth of people all the time about things that interest them. So, how do you take insights, learning, points of view, and package them so that they are relevant for the customer? We’re looking to have a whole dedicated digital channel for top accounts, so creating almost an on-demand Capita for them. I’m happy to come back in six months and tell you how it’s gone.”

AL: What was your biggest takeaway from the Customer Buying Index?

AW: “The concept of a “distressed buyer” – that your clients are actively seeking partners to help them to solve extraordinary challenges and their demands not being met – is philosophically sad, I think. But, [the report is] a good wake-up call. The 14 percent [of clients] that say they would give five out of five to vendors understanding their business is a clear call-to-action for sales and marketing. You could swarm into that now and come up with some exciting and innovative ways to help those distressed customers.

“The second point I found very interesting was the 77 percent that say they don’t feel like their vendors are communicating frequently enough. We all worry – are we over-communicating, are we inundating people – but actually there’s actually a huge amount of permission there. That’s a very exciting challenge for marketing in particular.

“Now is the time for marketing to step up as an equal player in service of the client. Account-based marketing has been having a moment for a while, but this [survey] is a sudden call from the client to say, ‘we need ABM more than ever’.

“There is a lot of richness in this report. It has become a call to action for me. There are some urgent needs we should be addressing right now. It’s a great report.”

Footnote

The Momentum Consumer Buying Index™ is a regular pulse-check on trends in the enterprise from current buying cycle, providing a unique rolling picture of buyers’ expectations to provide insight into which sales and marketing strategies are contributing to revenue growth.

The Index brings together data from CxOs at a representative samples of the world’s 2,000 largest companies, who we quiz in detail about recent $MM investments. The insights it generates help us build strategies and programs that increase our clients’ chances of success.