• Buyers are nearly always groups, not individuals — this has been true for as long as there has been a B2B marketplace
  • The systems and processes developed to enable organizations to participate in the B2B marketplace have operated as if the buyer were not a group but an individual
  • Many organizations have already evolved or are evolving processes and technologies to account for buying groups; those organizations have a meaningful competitive advantage over those who do not

By now, if you are a SiriusDecisions client, or someone who just keeps a casual eye on what we are up to in the marketing services at SiriusDecisions, you have heard the term “buying group.” That is the term we use to signify what you might know as the buying team or buying committee. It’s the set of people inside your prospect accounts who work together to evaluate and acquire solutions.

Demand Unit Waterfall Implementation Process Utilizing Teleservices

Pretty much everyone knows that in B2B, purchase decisions are made by buying groups/committees/teams. Every two years, SiriusDecisions conducts a study of B2B buyers. We survey individuals who have recently been part of a B2B purchase and ask them to tell us about that process. One response in particular has been consistent over the numerous studies we have done: Approximately 80% of respondents tell us that there were three or more people involved in the purchase process. Of the remaining 20%, most said they were part of a team of two.

One of the primary implications of this fact is that when organizations are researching business solutions, it is not one person perusing provider websites; it is nearly always multiple members of the buying group. “So what?” you ask. Well, in looking at our clients’ data over the years, we realized that lead management systems and process — and lead conversion metrics — didn’t account for this. If you have a buying committee of five individuals, and three of them come to your website or events and become leads, that must be a good thing, right?

But how do your sales and sales development processes behave differently toward a prospect organization where you have just produced three leads as opposed to a prospect where you have only one? The answer, if you’re like most of the B2B organizations we have ever asked, is that you wouldn’t. Your systems and processes likely would not notice that one organization had three individuals expressing intent. If they did, they would likely classify two of the three leads as duplicates, and they would count against, not in favor of, the marketing organization.

And so, while the fact of buying groups isn’t new, we think the time has come when the only way for B2B organizations to substantially improve performance is to adjust systems and processes to account for buying groups. Many organizations have already begun transforming for this purpose, but most have not. There is still a window of time in which making progress toward buying groups will provide a competitive advantage. Soon that window will close, and organizations that have failed to act will be playing catch-up.

We want all our clients to fall into the first category. At this year’s Summit, we have a handful of presentations that specifically address the question of buying groups and how to prepare for them. We hope you will join us and join the organizations that have already transformed themselves. We’ll present the case for why it is so critical, and we’ll get very practical about how to do it, and how to understand how your organization could perform better when you do. We hope you will join us for the following five buying groups sessions.