First published in forbes.com
Sell more. Sell faster. Sell smarter. With advances in marketing strategy and technologies, account-based marketing has become cornerstone in B2B enterprise marketing, focusing you on the accounts you care most about. But as you strive to sell more-faster-smarter, there’s a newer kid on the marketing strategy block you should consider: buying group marketing (BGM).
While BGM has elements in common with ABM, it takes marketing strategy to a whole new level of precision. BGM keeps your energies and resources focused specifically on the buying team at key accounts—the individuals who work together to make purchase decisions.
According to a recent Forrester survey, 94% of B2B organizations sell to groups of three or more individuals. And because purchase decisions are now in the hands of groups instead of individuals, you need to evolve your ABM strategy to take this into account: enter BGM.
Since buying groups determine the buying process in today’s modern enterprise, it’s important to develop a deep understanding of the target personas for each member of the group, whether they’re in IT, marketing, legal or any other function. By building out personas for each member of the buying group, you can develop a comprehensive marketing plan that maps to the persona and takes into account the level of influence each buying group member has at each stage of the buying journey. This strategic backbone will enable you to show buying group members in disparate functions that you understand them.
The More Complex The Sale, The Larger The Buying Group
As a rule of thumb, an increase in the complexity of a sale equates to an increase in the buying group size. So the bigger and more complex the deal, the more players—and the more nuanced your BGM strategy needs to be.
According to Gartner, “A typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers, each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group.”
BGM is about getting ahead of this. It’s your job as a B2B marketer to curate the right content in a way that meets individual buying group member needs and is served up as part of the aggregate messaging in an already deconflicted way. So the sum of the messaging parts supports the messaging whole.
Throw Out Your Lead-Centric Approach
Buying group marketing requires a shift in mindset, processes and technologies over more traditional marketing strategies and letting go of a typical lead-centric approach.
Consider this scenario: A prospect responds and the contact information is passed on to sales as a lead. A second prospect from the same company also expresses interest. This second prospect is often ignored or disqualified because sales is already working the account through the first lead. This is clearly a problem because, in today’s enterprise, there are multiple decision-makers, and you have to market to all of them to optimize your chances of success.
B2B marketers often fail to grasp the imprecise nature of their marketing engine. Although there is a temptation to use account-based advertising, connecting with any employee at a target account doesn’t guarantee success. You have to engage the right employees.
Start by asking your sales team, “What are you working on?” Or better, “Who are you working on.” The best starting point is to align on the accounts and buying groups your salespeople care the most about. Even if the sales conversation has already started, marketing can still provide very tangible help by accelerating sales with their marketing aircover. This is even more important if the buying groups are still wish-list items. Establishing relationships is the hardest sales job and marketing can be really instrumental. Your sales team will be grateful by seeing conversion into sales opportunities as a result of the joint effort. Aligning your strategy to the way purchase decisions are made is your BGM recipe for success.