The way companies make buying decisions has changed over the last decade. Gone are the days of one person making a decision and writing a check.
For better or worse, purchases are now a team effort with each person looking for something a little different.
The new approach is called “buying groups.”
What are B2B buying groups?
In B2B marketing, a buying group is a collection of people, each with different job roles, who all have input into a buying decision. This is different from a buying center, which is the group that holds the budget.
Teams that market to b2b buying groups focus on identifying and engaging all the players in the buying process who will need to sign off on the purchase. To use this strategy effectively, marketers must be deliberate about who they target and how they deliver their messages.
The paradigm shift from the solo decision maker and purchaser to the buying group impacts everything about how companies work to attract, engage, qualify, and convert prospects into customers – and then to repeat customers.
Advantages of Marketing to B2B Buying Groups
Marketing to buying groups can be extremely beneficial. Two key highlights:
- It provides better insights. Let’s say you had two opportunities that you were pursuing. For account A, there was one person who had interacted with your company. For account B, there were five people who had interacted with your company. With this information alone, marketing and sales teams can see that account B is a stronger opportunity.
- It enables a more customized and relevant experience for all prospects. Instead of focusing on a single persona, teams take a more holistic approach to the entire purchasing journey – thereby addressing the needs of more people.
Challenges of Marketing to B2B Buying Groups
While it’s great that more people are involved in a decision, it also provides a new set of challenges. Two notable challenges are:
- There are more people to reach. You can no longer target a single person with a single value proposition. The different personas within the decision chain are going to be interested in different aspects of your solution or service. As a marketer, you have to identify each group, figure out what they care about, and reach them effectively.
- Technology hasn’t caught up. A business could receive multiple leads from the same account, each demonstrating interest in the same solution. However, its marketing automation platform doesn't make the connection between those individuals. It requires extra work on the backend to connect these leads into an account.
Do I need to focus on B2B buying groups?
In a word, yes.
In a recent Forrester survey, 94% of respondents said they sell to groups of three or more individuals while 38% sell to groups of 10 or more. A different Forrester survey into buying activity found that 84% of purchases costing $5,000 or more were made by three or more people. According to Gartner, the average buying team size is between 14 and 23 people, depending on the size of the spend.
But there’s more to it than simple numbers. B2B buying groups are also redefining opportunities.
Once a business shifts its focus from leads to opportunities with buying groups, it can start to understand when an entire buying group is researching their offerings – opposed to when only a single person is doing research. It can then shift its focus accordingly.
To learn more about buying groups and why they’re important, check out:
- This blog about using buying groups to accelerate momentum in Q4.
- This webinar about using buying groups in ABM tactics.
Now that you know what B2B buying groups are and why they're so important, learn how to start using them in your next campaign.