Even with the most exhaustive account-based marketing (ABM) data and the most personalized tracking, your campaign will fall flat if you’re treating each role like just another contact at an important account.
Buying group marketing is an approach that influences and impacts all of the people at a target account who are likely to be involved in a purchase decision. When BGM is done well, with strong strategic direction and alignment between sales and marketing, the end result is a prospect journey that’s more engaging and personalized than traditional ABM.
Traditional approaches to marketing, including ABM, view buyers at a target company as individuals. The BGM approach views them as people who work together to achieve goals, tackle challenges, and, most importantly, make purchasing decisions.
Forrester and SiriusDecisions officially coined the idea of buying groups a few years ago as a way to categorize “the set of people inside your prospect accounts who work together to evaluate and acquire solutions.” They realized from their research that B2B purchase decisions are not driven or made by one person. Instead, they’re overwhelmingly made by committee. Approximately 80% of respondents across multiple SiriusDecisions studies affirmed that there were at least three people involved in the purchase process at B2B organizations.
But why does this matter for B2B sales and prospecting? Because companies that embrace and target the entire buying group have a significant competitive advantage. Instead of homing in on individuals at an account, you’re targeting stakeholders across multiple departments. You get a real understanding of their motivations, so you can influence the group’s decision collectively.
Here’s an example. Say you’re trying to sell learning and development software to a medium-sized financial technology company. There are probably several buying roles involved, and each will have its own purchase motivations:
By deploying BGM, you’ll have a strategy for targeting each of those roles at every stage of the buying journey, along with the tools and content to actually execute it. You create ads to serve at the top of the funnel, but each set is unique to the buying role you’re targeting. Your call scripts are tailored to the buying group member you’re speaking to. Your CRM’s lead scoring system recognizes each member and tracks engagement across the group as a whole.
ABM focuses on target accounts and adopts a “spray and pray” approach to reaching individuals at those companies — but that has its limits. Really, you need a deeper layer of visibility into your buying group and a strategy to help them all come to the same conclusion: that your product is the best fit and a valuable investment for their company. That’s where BGM comes in.
Compared to traditional ABM campaigns, buying group marketing delivers:
- More precision and personalization: You have the ability to truly personalize your marketing and sales activities because you understand each buying role. You’re familiar with each member of the buying group, their role in the purchasing decision, their challenges and goals, and how your product supports them, both individually and collectively. With all of that data on your side, you can personalize every ad, landing page, and conversation to influence each stakeholder. You can also track each person in the buying group and measure how they respond to different ads, messages, and activities to continue improving performance.
- Strong engagement through the sales funnel: BGM sees great engagement throughout the sales funnel, thanks to all of that personalization. One company, ProfitWell, used a buying group marketing strategy to create highly personalized videos that addressed their targets’ biggest pain points. They saw a 40% increase overall in buying group engagement, and 67% of their audience among target accounts converted. That drove a 111% increase in enterprise deals won.
- Higher retention: You can better protect your revenue by influencing the entire buying committee. If you only have one established contact and they leave the company, you need to start all over again with that account. But with BGM, one person leaving won’t make such a big difference. It’s easier to maintain those connections over time, close deals, and lock in upselling opportunities.
To successfully execute on buying group marketing, you need a strategic approach that creates a personalized prospect journey and aligns sales and marketing.
Here are three key steps you need to take so you can build out a buying group marketing plan that resonates with your target B2B buyers:
Craft a strategy to capture stakeholders in your buying team at the beginning of the sales process, then successfully move them through the funnel and ultimately close the deal. Your strategy is the guidebook you’ll use to prioritize target accounts and identify the buying roles you want to go after.
Use your ideal customer profile (ICP) and other criteria as the foundation. Hold internal interviews with your team and even external interviews with existing customers, so you can map out the structure of your buying group and build a strategy to target them.
Your sales journey is ultimately how you’ll follow through on your strategy and move the buying group along from “aware of your product” to “excited to purchase.” But that journey will look slightly different for each member of the buying group. Produce and deliver relevant content at the right times for each person, whether they’re a champion, a decision maker, or an influencer.
For instance, your banner ads and landing pages should speak to each stakeholder’s unique pain points. You could produce a case study to help sway the decision makers in your group. For the champions, an informative ebook might help them make a stronger case to their colleagues.
Buying group marketing is not just about looking at your B2B buyers holistically but also taking a holistic approach internally. To have the most success, you’ll need to knock down any existing silos between your marketing and sales teams and adopt a culture of shared accountability.
Before, you might have split up tasks so that marketing was responsible for the top of the funnel, and sales was responsible for the bottom. Instead, both teams should work together to define the actions they’ll take, the metrics they’ll focus on, and their roles in the full prospect journey. To help facilitate this, set recurring meetings, generate automated reports, and set up workflows for automation to trigger activities for each team.
Buying group marketing can work hand-in-hand with a traditional ABM strategy. In fact, traditional ABM is often a great foundation because of the degree of personalized targeting you can already achieve. But you still need the tools and metrics to target your specific buying group members at your top accounts. It’s great if you know that you need to target the head of L&D, the people ops manager, the VP of human resources, and the head of finance. And it’s even better if you’ve developed a strategy and creative materials to influence their buying decisions. But if you don’t have the tools to actually get that content in front of them, your strategy will fall flat.
Influ2’s person-based advertising platform enables you to easily reach different personas within the same account with next-level precision. Craft tailored messages through ads and landing pages, then target the people you want to reach based on your ICP and B2B buying roles. Then track individual ad engagement to measure success, optimize your campaigns, and achieve greater influence toward purchase decisions.
A proud marketing generalist driven by a strong urge to Always Be Learning (ABL). Nirosha has a career across many marketing disciplines and industries spanning close to 15-years. Now she is taking on the challenge to build out the evolution of Account-Based Marketing to Buying Group Marketing.