Closing Time

Is Your Brand in Crisis Mode? Key Insights from the 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report

Sales cycles taking longer. More people on buying committees. It’s not your imagination – B2B sales is getting more difficult for both vendors and buyers.

On this episode of Closing Time, we welcome Allyson Havener from TrustRadius to discuss the 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report and why this is ‘the year of the brand crisis.’

Allyson shares data-backed insights around the shrinking shortlist of preferred products, the involvement of C-suite execs in purchase decisions, and the critical role of brand spending over demand gen in today’s market.

Struggling to gain executive buy-in for brand spending? Allyson and her team at TrustRadius have your back. Tune in to this episode for data and insights to help you make the case for branding in 2024. 


Watch the video:
Key Moments:
Introduction & Methodology

Ask any B2B marketer, and they will tell you that brand has never been more important than it is today. Companies are no longer just selling products or services; they’re building relationships, crafting experiences, and creating trust.

Today’s B2B buyers are savvy, informed, and expect more personalized interactions. They seek authenticity and value, not just transactions.

As the landscape shifts, understanding the nuances of buyer expectations versus vendor approaches is key for staying ahead. This evolving dynamic sets the stage for the 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect report, a deep dive into the gaps and opportunities in the modern B2B market.

Allyson from TrustRadius explained the methodology behind the report, which was a collaborative effort with Pavilion. She says the term “disconnect” is key as it highlights the gap between how buyers want to interact with vendors and how vendors approach the market.

TrustRadius observes that buyers are evolving in their purchasing behaviors and preferences, while vendors often stick to traditional methods. To understand this dynamic, they designed a comprehensive survey with the help of their internal research team. This survey aims to uncover what buyers truly want, focusing on questions like what influences their purchasing decisions and which resources they find most valuable.

Methodology 1 - 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report

Methodology 2 - 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report

By asking buyers about their preferences and the most influential factors in their buying process, and vendors about their go-to-market strategies, TrustRadius identifies where the two perspectives diverge.

In essence, the report’s methodology hinges on comparing responses from buyers and vendors to pinpoint areas of misalignment. This approach not only highlights the disconnect but also offers actionable insights for vendors to better align with buyer expectations. Allyson emphasizes that having insights from both buyers and vendors makes the findings particularly valuable, as it provides a balanced view of the B2B landscape.

Insight #1 – Short Lists are Shrinking

In 2024, getting a spot on a buyer’s short list is like striking gold. These short lists, also referred to as initial consideration sets, are the select group of vendors or products that buyers seriously consider when making a purchase. In a crowded market, being on a short list can make or break your chances of closing a deal.

But here’s the kicker: data from the report shows that these short lists are getting shorter.

Allyson points out that the majority of today’s buyers—over 75%—are millennials and Gen Z. These are folks who grew up with instant access to product reviews and detailed information in their personal shopping experiences. Now, they’re bringing those same high expectations to their B2B purchases.

This shift means buyers are more skeptical and risk-averse. They’re sticking to what they know, fearing the consequences of a bad choice more than missing out on a potential innovation. As a result, most short lists (63%) include only two to three products, and 96% include five or fewer. It’s a fierce battle to even make it onto the list.

And it gets more intense. The report reveals that 71% of buyers end up going with their top choice, using further research just to confirm their decision. Among enterprise buyers, this figure jumps to 86%. They often have a preferred vendor in mind before they even start their search.

This trend is tough news for smaller challenger brands—breaking into an already tight short list dominated by big names is harder than ever. Take the CRM market, for example. With giants leading the pack, challenger brands like Insightly face an uphill battle.

However, Allyson offers a glimmer of hope. Challenger brands can still carve out a niche by focusing on specific customer segments and turning satisfied customers into vocal advocates. If a peer in a similar-sized company vouches for a product, it can significantly boost its credibility.

The takeaway? Building trust and confidence is more important than ever. As buyers lean towards familiar and proven choices, vendors need to rethink their strategies to connect with today’s decision-makers. The landscape is shifting, and understanding these nuances can make all the difference in staying ahead.

Insight #2 – Buying Group Sizes are Stabilizing

Continuing the exploration of the 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect report, another key insight is the stabilization of buying group sizes. This finding sheds light on the dynamics of decision-making within organizations and how vendors can better navigate this landscape.

Allyson highlights that buying groups have seen various shifts over the years, but in the last few years, they’ve settled into a consistent range of three to five members. This range varies by company size: larger enterprises tend to have more extensive buying groups, while mid-market and SMBs often operate with just one decision-maker (see image below). This trend indicates a move towards more siloed decision-making, especially in smaller companies.

Buying Group Sizes - 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report

A notable trend in the report is the growing involvement of the executive suite in purchase decisions. Over 50% of buyers reported that a C-suite executive was involved in decisions, spanning purchases from as little as $10,000 to several hundred thousand dollars. This consolidation of decision-making power at the top levels of organizations adds a layer of complexity for vendors. Reaching and influencing the C-suite is a lofty challenge.

Allyson points out that capturing the interest of the C-suite demands significant effort and dedication but is a worthwhile investment. The importance of brand strength becomes even more evident in this context, as it plays a crucial role in making it onto the short list and influencing high-level decision-makers.

In essence, the stabilization of buying group sizes and the increasing involvement of C-suite executives highlight the need for vendors to focus on building a strong, recognizable brand. This strategy is vital for navigating the complex decision-making processes within organizations and securing a place in the competitive B2B market.

Insight #3 – Overspending on Demand Gen at the Expense of Branding

For years, the focus has been on performance-based demand generation—driving immediate, measurable results that make you look like a rockstar in front of your executive team. It’s straightforward to show how specific marketing efforts lead directly to revenue. However, this approach doesn’t align with how buyers actually make decisions.

The report shows that less than 35% of marketing budgets are allocated to brand spending, with the majority funneled into demand generation.

Discretionary Spending on Brand vs. Demand Gen - 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report

Allyson points out that buyers today are more skeptical and risk-averse, leaning heavily on established brands they trust. If you’re not investing in your brand, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to build that trust and confidence.

Building a brand involves creating awareness and fostering preference, which are two distinct but equally important aspects. Awareness is about making buyers know you exist, while preference is about making them choose you over competitors. Focusing solely on performance marketing neglects the emotional connection and confidence that a strong brand can instill in buyers.

This misalignment leads to what Allyson describes as a “year of the brand crisis.” The overemphasis on immediate, measurable results has left many brands struggling to build lasting connections with their audience.

Allyson notes the difficulty of securing buy-in for brand spending at the board or executive level. Performance marketing, with its clear metrics, is an easier sell. However, she emphasizes that brand and performance marketing are tightly coupled. While brand efforts might not have immediate, measurable outcomes, they have a significant impact on overall success. The pendulum, she hopes, is swinging back towards a more balanced approach that values both brand and performance marketing.

Need help securing budget for brand? The report serves as a vital tool for marketers, providing data to support the argument for increased brand investment. It offers insights into buyer behavior and mindset, helping marketers make the case to their boards and investors. The goal is to demonstrate the halo effect of a strong brand and its role in building trust across the organization, from the sales team to the executive suite.

Insight #4 – Sales & Marketing Effectiveness is the Top GTM Challenge

Businesses face a multitude of GTM challenges that require strategic planning, adaptability, and continuous improvement. When asked in the survey, one challenge was clearly the leader: sales and marketing effectiveness.

Top GTM Challenges - 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect Report

Sales and marketing effectiveness hinges on understanding and meeting buyer expectations. It’s about building trust, offering transparency, and ensuring successful product adoption.

Allyson says that the core of the problem lies in buyers’ evolving expectations. Today’s buyers want to know and try products before committing to a purchase. This shift fundamentally changes the traditional roles of sales teams, who have historically been the gatekeepers of product information, demos, and pricing.

Buyers increasingly want and expect things like interactive demos and upfront pricing information. If a sales team remains the sole gateway to this information, it can create friction and drive potential customers away.

For instance, on TrustRadius, products without visible pricing see a significant amount of traffic diverted to competitors that provide this transparency.

This trend highlights a crucial disconnect between traditional sales approaches and modern buyer expectations. Buyers now rely heavily on their own research, including their previous experiences, brand reputation, customer success stories, free trials, and self-serve demos. A failure to provide transparent and accessible information directly impacts sales and marketing effectiveness.





Ready to dive deeper? Explore all of the 2024 B2B Buying Disconnect’s insights and data by downloading the full report


We’ve got some new research
on how B2B buyers journeys are continuing to buck the norm.
Let’s talk about it in this episode of Closing Time.
Thanks for tuning into Closing Time the show for Go to Market leaders.
I’m Val Riley, head of Content and digital marketing at Insightly CRM.
Today, I’m joined by Allyson Havener.
She is senior VP of Marketing and Community at TrustRadius.
Allyson, welcome to the show. Hi, Val.
It’s so great to be here.. Thanks for having me.
So TrustRadius and Pavillion jointly released
a report called the 2024. B2B Buying Disconnect.
And, well, I think the use of the word disconnect stands out to me.
So we’ll talk about it.
But first, can you talk me through the methodology behind the report?
So it actually really starts with the disconnect.
What we see a lot is that there’s a big disconnect into the way
buyers are evolving and how they want to actually interact with vendors
and the way vendors go to market.
And so our methodology is to
we build a survey of like how do we really want to understand
buyers, What are the questions that we want to be asking?
We have an internal research team which is amazing,
and they help us craft that survey and then we reach out to buyers
in our community and then we also do the same thing on the vendor side.
And essentially we like to look at the different questions of, Hey,
what makes you more likely to buy or what are the most influential resources
that you find out there?
And then we asked
vendor specific questions about their go to market
and we find the disconnect between the two.
And that’s really kind of the methodology and impetus for the report.
So that’s super insightful
because you guys have both sides of the equation, right?
You have the buyers and then you have the vendor.
So I love that.
So out of the gate, the report starts by discussing short lists
and we call that sometimes the initial consideration set.
What did the data show?
Because I think that that is particularly of interest.
So the infamous short list,. I think that a couple of things
before we probably jump into some of the data,
but I think people have to know kind of the buyer mindset
given where we’ve come over the last five, ten years.
One thing is, is that most of the buying power out there
today, over 75% recognize themselves
or identify themselves as millennials and Gen Z.
So these are digitally native people.
They have grown up in the B2C world where they’ve had reviews.
They had all this important product
information at their fingertips from the consumer side of the house.
And now those expectations have been transcending into the B2B world.
And that’s something that we’ve been reporting on for a really long time.
This is our eighth annual report.
And that trend is our reality at this point.
And so when you think about the short list and how somebody would build that,
they are already skeptical, they’re super risk adverse
and people are really adhering to the status quo
because they fear messing up more than missing out.
And so I’m not going to kind of push the edge of innovation
if my job could possibly be on the line for picking the wrong technology.
I’m going to go with something either. I know, I’ve used before
or that my peers are using.
And I think this is kind of this collective confidence that vendors
should be really thinking about and how they go to market
and how they’re talking to their buyers is really building this confidence.
And so if you think about the
short list, it is actually shrinking.
At the height,
there are around five products and they’ve been shrinking down
to more like three, which is super competitive.
If you think about how oversaturated technology categories are these days.
And so 75% of buyers said
that they usually go with their top choice.
And so and then all that other research that they do is just
to build that collective confidence with the rest of the buying group.
And that number actually gets higher as you look at enterprise buyers.
So 86% say that they already go
with somebody that they’ve heard of, and that was probably their first choice.
And when they even before they started their research.
So it’s really interesting that people are going with top of mind
and something that’s proven, which makes it really harder for smaller
brands or Challenger brands that are trying to enter the market.
Yeah, that kind of hits close to home because when I wear my Insightly CRM
hat, you know, there are like 1500 CRMs available on the market
and it’s really heavily dominated by a handful of brands.
And so we are a Challenger brand and gosh,
that just feels like the tide is turning a little bit against them with,
I think, what you just identified as sort of a generational shift, right?
So I technically consider myself Gen X and. I think some of the attributes of Gen X
are very interested in bucking the status quo or going with a Challenger brand.
And it sounds like that is on its way out, which is super interesting
from this report.
And I think you can really you know, when I look at Challenger Brands
and not to get into too much solutioning but like
if you think
about the CRM category to your point
there’s different types of buyers that are going to be your ICP.
And so I think one piece and what we see a lot of people doing is
how are you aligning to those people?
How are you making sure that your customers, because your customers
that are truly finding the value of that, their peers are out in the market.
And again, like. I want to know what my peers are doing,
so maybe they’re not a leader in the category per se, but
maybe they’re in a leader in a category for the type of world I’m in,
the size company and maturity that I’m at, maybe that makes the most sense.
And so I think when you start thinking about your go to market and your ICP
and then how you’re using your customers, so they’re kind of that mouthpiece
for you and then their peers are like,. Oh, that makes sense.
Like somebody at the same size company is using Insightly like,
Why wouldn’t I be as well? Right.
Yeah, that’s super insightful.
So keeping on going with the research.
There was some data, I think,
on buying group size and length of the purchase process
that I thought was particularly interesting as well.
Yeah. So buying groups have stabilized.
So over the years, we’ve kind of seen a lot of shifts in buying groups, but
over the last three years they’ve kind of stayed around that 3 to 5 range.
And in the report, you can kind of see how that range is
based on the size companies.
So enterprise being more obviously,
but if you get down to kind of mid-market and SMB, it’s one.
Which is really interesting because you start to see decisions
being made in silos in a sense.
And the executive suite is getting more and more involved.
And so over 50% of buyers said
that a C-suite executive was involved in a purchase decision,
and that was ranging anywhere from 10k purchases
all the way up to, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So I think that’s interesting to think about the consolidation
of decision making, but then also the C-suite role in that.
And it makes it even harder for us as vendors because getting to that C-suite
and getting those eyeballs is really, really hard.
And influencing the C-suite is really hard.
And so I think we kind of get to some of the other findings.
It’s like reaching the C-suite with a really powerful brand.
It’s really hard.
It takes a lot of work and dedication, but it’s definitely something worth
investing in because this is a trend that we’ve seen over the last few years.
Well, I love that it comes down to brand because you know,
I feel like to get on that short list to get the C-suite attention.
There is, you know, an emphasis on brand.
But there was some interesting data on brand spending versus
spending on demand Gen that caught my eye as well in the report.
So every year of the report we always try to pick a theme like what
really came out, about three years ago is around the self-serve buyer.
Again, kind of what I
talked about in the beginning is that everyone wanted to self-serve.
100% of buyers were like,
I’d rather find all this information on my own about a product.
I’m not going to reach out until I’m ready to buy.
And now you see this evolution where if you’re not even making the short list,
you know you’re not even in the running, you’re not even in these deals.
Last year was really around how much people were putting emphasis on ROI.
Again, this risk aversion and skepticism of oversaturated technology markets.
And this year what you’re seeing is kind of the evolution of that,
where it’s really turning into a brand crisis
for a lot of vendors out there that have been overspending
on kind of this performance driven demand gen centric marketing
and not thinking about the brand that they’re creating.
And I think there’s a big difference
between any marketer will tell you this between awareness and preference.
Awareness, how they heard of you.
And then second is, do they actually want to align themselves
and will they pick you over other competitors in the market?
And those are two different ways to approach brand
awareness and preference, and you have to do both.
So I think when marketers look at, when we look at spend,
so it was a little less than 35% was spent on brand
while the rest of the budget was being spent on demand gen.
And that makes sense
because as a marketing leader you’re going to walk into the executive team
and you want to show that one plus one equals two.
I did this,. I did this, This led to revenue.
You want to tell the board that, you want to tell your sales team that.
And so that makes sense.
But that’s not the way buyers are buying.
And we try to make it this linear equation when it comes
to proving the worth of marketing.
And what is happening is, is you’re seeing the brand side of it
and the emotional connection
and our ability to build confidence through buyers is really lacking.
And that’s what’s kind of hurting us in the long run
and kind of leading to this like year of the brand crisis.
And that’s a big theme of the report that we saw.
That’s so insightful.
I mean, as I’ve got 20 years of marketing under my belt and it is so much harder
to get buy in on spending for brand at the board
level or the, you know, executive level than it is for performance marketing.
But, you know, they are so tightly coupled and I’m excited to hear that
the pendulum potentially is swinging
because it’s been so far in the camp of performance marketing that
the pendulum is swinging back to brand because there’s just so many things
that we do that we can’t measure in the way
that we measure performance marketing, but still have a huge impact.
Right, Exactly.
And I think that it’s interesting because I,
I go and I’m having these same conversations
and that’s why it’s so fun to do this report because we take a lot
of these insights at TrustRadius and apply it to our go to market.
And I really feel like this report is almost for like the investor community
because they’re the ones that are holding our feet to the fire.
And so the more I think this report’s really helpful for people to be like, Hey,
here’s the data around the way buyers are thinking and their mindset.
So you can have that change management and that conversation internally.
So yeah, we might not be able to 100% tie
everything that we do to this bottom line revenue or pipeline or whatever it is.
However, what we can show is like this,
this kind of halo effect that the brand is really creating.
And I think that’s that’s part of like the trust that you’re building
with your sales team, with your board, with the investors, etc..
But really this data is supposed to help us in that conversation.
I’m definitely borrowing the halo effect of brand.
I love that term.. I haven’t heard it before. So thank you.
One more data point that was in the report was that the primary
go to market challenge that organizations are going to have
this year is sales and marketing effectiveness.
Can you break down what that means and why do you think it topped the list?
I think when you again, go back to buyers are kind of sticking with this.
We were like they want to know and they want to try before they buy.
And that’s
a lot
because that really changes, so if you think about sales teams,
they’re usually the gatekeepers when it comes to
product information,
any kind of demo or actually seeing the product, pricing.
And what you’re seeing is that brands that are trying to kind of
essentially pivot that and say, let’s
give them an interactive demo that they can just
walk through on their own, let’s give them pricing upfront.
And that changes the role a lot of the sales team.
But if you try to keep the sales team as like this gatekeeper
of product information, it’s really going to hurt you in the long run.
I mean, even in the short run, right?
Because what we actually see on. TrustRadius is
if you’re a product on TrustRadius and you don’t have pricing
and your competitors do, a large percentage of traffic goes over
to your competitors from your page looking for pricing.
And so again, when you look at the most influential resources
that buyers use, they’re looking at their own experience going back to brand
or actually your customer success team, did they use your product before?
Do they know your product before?
Do they have success with it?
They’re looking at free trials and then a self-serve demo.
And so I think when you look at that disconnect and it’s creating those
inefficiencies in your marketing and your sales is when you’re not
being transparent and building that trust.
I think the other big piece of the report that we get into,
obviously this transparency piece, but it’s building trust.
We’re starting a new survey, so this isn’t in the report,
but you’re getting a little bit of a sneak peek.
But we’re looking at some of the like usability and integrations of
products as well.
Like how many times have you bought a technology and maybe
never even implemented it properly or not even using it to its full capabilities?
I know I’ve been guilty of that, where something kind of sat on the shelf
and it took us a year to even do the change
management to actually even implement the product.
And so I think there are some we’re going to start working on some new data
around kind of that people process and technology dynamic
because I think after buy it, post-purchase is the hardest part.
It’s like picking great, like, you go with something,
but then actually implementing it and running the change
management internally and making that successful.
That’s the hardest part, in my opinion.
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, 100%.
It’s like it’s like getting married versus staying married, right?
Allyson, I feel like there’s so many more things
that we can talk about in this report, but we’re running short on time.
Where can folks find the report if they want to take a deeper dive?
Yeah, so just visit
You can find the report.
The best thing about it is we have it all ungated,
so you can download the whole report.
We have it all on our site as well.
We also made a media kit.
This year or actually last year was the first year we did it.
But we made a media kit, so you can get all the charts, You can get
all the kind of sound bites from the report too.
So again, this is supposed to be used as a tool if you need to really have
that conversation
with your leadership of change management about how you go to market.
Nice, ungated, fantastic.
Allyson, thank you so much for joining us on Closing Time.
Thank you so much for having me.. This was so fun.
And thanks to all of you for tuning in to Closing Time.
Remember, you want to like the video, subscribe
to the channel and hit the bell for notifications
so you don’t miss an episode.
We will see you next week.

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