Long-term consistency beats short-term intensity, according to Bruce Lee who claimed it is exercising regularly that builds up strength and resilience. Here are my thoughts on how this relates to B2B marketing, based on the latest wave of the Momentum Customer Buying Index™.

First, a quick explanation for those of you not familiar with Momentum’s Customer Buying Index™ – a regular pulse-check on trends in the enterprise buying cycle. It provides a unique rolling picture of buyers’ expectations, behaviour and preferences around sales and marketing engagement. The insights it generates help us build strategies and programs that increase our clients’ chances of success.

Fair to say that some of the recent findings (from October 2020) took us by surprise. We all knew that the pandemic had tilted the dynamics of the buyer-vendor relationship, but we weren’t exactly sure how and why and to what degree.

New insight #1. It turns out that 77% of enterprise buyers don’t feel like their vendors communicate enough.

For many people who work in marketing, this will be counter-intuitive. We’ve all been brought up to believe that customers as well as prospects will react badly if you over-communicate. And we’ve learnt to tiptoe carefully round regulatory phenomena such as GDPR.

The data suggests we might have mis-calibrated. In our virtual-first world, a significant proportion of enterprise buyers are feeling increasingly isolated. They are badly missing informal contacts with their vendors – for example, that relaxed lunch at a decent restaurant where they can chat freely, explore options and kick ideas around.

That’s all gone, at least for now. And it has left enterprise buyers feeling cut off from innovative new ideas. Which, in turn, has made it much harder for those buyers to decide what technology solutions they need to invest in to achieve success.

New insight #2. Some 42% of enterprise buyers say they are finding it harder to make tech buying decisions now compared to the good old days (remember them?) before COVID-19 turned the world upside down.

It’s not just that buyers are missing informal conversations with vendors. In fact, we discovered a range of symptoms here. Buyers sense vendor sales teams are connecting with fewer people; meanwhile they are very aware that their own appetite for insight around innovation is not being satisfied.

You would expect that, in these straitened circumstances, vendors would be trying harder to impress. They’d be listening carefully to what buyers were telling them and working hard to show they understood the buyer’s business.

You would expect that but you might be wrong.

New insight #3. Almost half of the buyers we polled believe that sales teams now have less insight on their business than before the pandemic. Asked to evaluate vendors’ understanding of their business, only 14% of buyers awarded their top score of 5/5. An astonishing 3 in 10 customers say their vendor is NOT proactive (and remember we were polling a representative sample of the world’s largest 2,000 companies).

So where does that leave us? Buyers want more communication but, to echo Bruce Lee, they’re asking for consistency rather than intensity. They want more regular information but it has to be relevant and based on a good understanding of their business. Ideally, it should bring innovation to the table.

When I’ve presented the findings of the latest Customer Buying Index, I’ve been conscious it paints a slightly bleak picture of enterprises that feel more and more and disconnected from vendors who, in turn, are often not in sync with customer requirements.

But there’s plenty of good news here and reason for optimism. Buyers are more open-minded and understand that life has gotten more difficult for vendors too.

New insight #4. Some 67% of the enterprises we polled said they are more open than ever before to sharing insights with their vendors.

And in a world where 3 in 10 vendors are seen as not even managing to be proactive, it might not take that much to stand out.

Published by: Robert Hollier, Director of Consulting and Partner at Momentum, the growth consultancy.