It was never about leads; it has always been about the group of individuals — the buying group — that makes the purchasing decision.

As marketers, we’re taught to not bury the lead. We’re taught to start any piece with the main point. And it is ironic, because as it relates to demand generation, B2B marketers have been so focused on leads that we’ve buried the most important thing that we should be focused on: buying groups. As B2B marketers, we should literally bury “the lead” and focus all of our marketing efforts on the buying group.

B2B purchasing decisions are made by a group, team, or committee and have been since the beginning of B2B. Since the introduction of marketing automation platforms (MAPs), B2B marketers have focused on individuals or leads, neglecting that the buyer is a group not an individual. Yes, B2B marketers do need to market to individual people, but they can’t lose sight that these individuals do not act alone. B2B purchasers do not come together as a group only when an opportunity is created in your system. These B2B buyers start as a group well before they hit your website or respond to your marketing efforts, but you can’t tell that from your MAP. B2B marketers must figure out how to connect these individuals into buying groups well before there is a qualified deal entered in the system.

The goal for B2B marketers is to attract, connect, and engage these buying groups. The goal for B2B sales teams has always been, and will always be, focused on deals and revenue. In the past, B2B marketers were so focused on attracting leads, converting leads, measuring leads, sourcing leads, and even compensated on leads.

But it was never about leads. It has always been about buying groups associated with opportunities, because opportunities are how a B2B organization measures revenue.

B2B marketers must figure out how to decipher these multiple contacts from an account into groups and connect ALL buying group contacts to opportunities and revenue. Today, B2B marketers focus exclusively on individuals, not groups. Many organizations have tried to remedy this by adopting account-centric strategies. However, this approach is too broad. Each account can have multiple opportunities with associated buying groups, so it is impossible to set goals or measure success against accounts. This remedy gets even more problematic when an account-based approach is combined with a leads-based demand process. It is simply impossible to determine the success of marketing on the basis of leads or accounts.

It’s time for B2B marketers to make the shift from leads to buying groups and opportunities. Here are the top three concepts B2B marketers need when moving to buying groups:

  • One: It’s all about revenue, so focus on opportunities. Align marketing, teleservices, and sales around the concept of opportunities so that everyone focuses on a single goal and everybody counts the same thing.
  • Two: Forget the leads, use groups. Move the focus of marketing to buying groups, rather than leads, so the connection of the multiple individuals on the buying team is clear to the entire revenue team.
  • Three: Get the groups to the deal. Ensure that marketing, teleservices, and sales all start with the group, work with the group, and pass the group to each other to ensure context is maintained throughout the prospect’s buying process.

You can learn more about how B2B marketers can make the move to buying groups and embrace opportunities or reach out to your account manager to schedule an inquiry.