• Buyers nearly always buy in groups, not as individuals, and this has been true for as long as the B2B marketplace has existed
  • The systems and processes organizations have developed to enable participation in the B2B marketplace have operated under the assumption that the buyer is an individual
  • Many organizations are already evolving processes and technologies to account for buying groups, and those organizations will have a meaningful competitive advantage over those that don’t evolve

Manifestos are the kind of thing we can all sort of describe but probably don’t have a clear grip on. For example, if I make a public pronouncement that all baseball fans should only root for the Boston Red Sox from this day forward, that is a manifesto. Let’s call it the Red Sox Nation Manifesto. It’s trivial and unrealistic (though also a good lifestyle choice in my opinion), but it still qualifies as a manifesto.

Manifestos aren’t usually that trivial, however. They typically announce a new, grand approach to a topic and are written by people and organizations to mark a turning point after which the authors believe something should change. Often, however, they’re not called or thought of as manifestos at their time of publication. A well-known example is a 1913 article by psychologist John B. Watson that’s now considered the “behaviorist manifesto.” In the article, Watson announced psychology’s shift in focus away from the study of people’s internal states to strictly observable behaviors. Like many manifestos, this was the proclamation of a movement already in progress, and the behaviorist movement was deeply influential in psychology for several decades.

A great example of a business manifesto is 1964’s First Things First Manifesto, written by Ken Garland and 20 colleagues. The authors were designers, photographers, and students in the advertising industry who had become disillusioned with it. They felt that their skills and talents would be better applied to more meaningful projects such as education and public service announcements — not exclusively to the blustery promotion of consumer goods. The manifesto was a call to designers to do good for society, not just consumer advertising, and was updated and republished in 1999 in a renewed call for a change of priorities.

Perhaps the best-known business manifesto is the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, written in 2001, which propounded a set of values and principles concerning the development of software products. The Agile Manifesto’s purpose was to push back against the prevailing methodologies, with which software developers built products over long periods of time and delivered them as fully finished. The authors of this manifesto promoted a new set of values that focused on reducing time to value and emphasizing product over documentation of product and responsiveness to customer needs over following a plan.

At SiriusDecisions, we’ve understood for years that leads-based demand generation and management processes aren’t a good match for how buying and selling works in B2B. We designed the Demand Unit Waterfall™ to line up with the real B2B buying process — and it’s focused on buying groups. We’ve gained ground in the battle against leads-based processes in the three years since introducing the Demand Unit Waterfall, but we feel it’s time to say firmly and clearly for the entire market — here we stand, we can say no other — the B2B buyer is a group, not an individual.

And so, at this year’s Summit, we’re introducing our Buying Groups Manifesto. Virtually everything in the manifesto cascades from the first statement: “The B2B buyer is a buying group.” But to find out the rest, you’ll need to join us in the first week of May for Summit 2020. I’ll see you at my session with Vicki Brown, “Blowing Up Marketing: How Buying Groups Change Everything.”

Recommended Research (clients only)

Core Strategy Report: The Demand Unit Waterfall™
Identifying and Overcoming Buying Group Blindness
Identifying and Resolving Second-Lead Syndrome in Demand Management
Why Your Falling Lead Conversion Rates Are a Good Thing (And What to Measure Instead)
Moving From Leads to Buying Groups in One Easy Step