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The B2B buyer is a buying group: Why our Clash of the Tech Heads report is having a resurgence

By Octopus Group on 17th November 2020

Think back to April of this year. When most of us were consumed by Covid, Forrester released its Buying Groups Manifesto – a 15-page document exploring the changing nature of the B2B tech buying process. The key takeaway? Tech buying is now conducted via buying committee, rather than a single individual. And while this may have been news to some, avid fans of Octopus content (who isn’t, right?) will spot the alignment with our Clash of the Tech Heads report from last year.

Buy by committee

Much of our report looked at the different buying personas that now make up this group, and highlighted the importance of adapting to this new model. We suggested ways for marketers to approach the different personality types and needs of team members, who often hail from IT, marketing, finance and operations departments – and can have difficulty reaching a unanimous decision on what tech products or services to invest in.

Forrester’s ‘It Was Never About Leads: Why Adapting to Buying Groups is a Must’ report backs this up, spotlighting ways that marketers can attract and convert today’s B2B buyers. The Manifesto outlined within the guide gets marketers to recognise how they need to shift their systems and processes to engage B2B buying groups, because they were previously geared towards individual buyers. It describes how marketing and sales systems must align for optimised B2B performance; adjusting this approach will help to keep organisations competitive, even in the throes of a pandemic.

This shift to a group decision-making process was noticed by Forrester in 2017, through its Demand Unit Waterfall. But the waterfall didn’t review the systems and processes required for noticing when multiple buyers were engaged – meaning that there was no distinction made between individual or collective buying, which represented a lack in the measurement and understanding of the management process.

What buyers want

While buying groups are busy seeking tech solutions for their business, B2B tech providers need to spot the relevant opportunities for attracting and converting those group members into customers. Forrester’s survey contains a clear tick list made up of seven stages that businesses need to action – from defining their target market, identifying and engaging the active buying group, and validating their needs and aligning solutions as necessary.

Thankfully, tracking buying group progression mimics real-life processes, with many B2B businesses already seeking to attract a number of buyer personas. Aligning sales, teleservices and marketing systems will help with seeking out new opportunities earlier in the process and can encourage teams to unite around common goals.

The Demand Unit Waterfall in the Forrester report breaks the process down into steps outlining how opportunities can be optimised at various stages. Identifying the respondent and working out their solution interests are invaluable bits of information for filtering individuals into potential buying groups and mapping relevant solutions their way.

Each interaction with a buying group helps B2B tech providers understand how that group behaves and the likelihood of them buying into a solution. Every interaction adds insight, which then allows buying groups to be more easily identified and successfully engaged throughout their buying decisions. The Waterfall acts as a framework, measuring across departments and allowing organisations to react to opportunities more effectively.

Get it right

B2B tech providers need to get clear on how buying groups function. Inherently, there are different factors influencing each team decider, so adopting a more unified approach when talking to the buying group will help.

Tech buying is a complex process, only made more complicated with the increase in decision makers (and the pandemic). Our Clash of the Tech Heads report suggests that conflicts between departments can be easily avoided if providers better understand the different personalities of each buyer persona to improve targeting and buy in from each department. Though the number of people involved in the decision-making process may have increased, it’s also created more opportunities for marketers to connect with.

To download our report, click here.

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