• Marketing leaders are always looking for ways to understand how to increase the quality and volume of marketing’s contribution to pipeline
  • B2B buyers buy as a group (rarely alone) but many systems for orchestrating and measuring interactions fail to account for these groups
  • Marketing leaders must understand their buying group blindness and drive organizational alignment and buy-in to re-engineer demand management strategies

On my third day as a SiriusDecisions analyst, I attended a CMO roundtable held at the Forrester office in Singapore. The topic was buying group blindness, and the event began with a discussion about the effectiveness of egg-producing chickens in a group setting. I won’t attempt to explain it – it was one of those things where you just had to be there (you can read all about it here)! Crowd of people in the form of a cursor

As strange as it was, the talk of chickens was the perfect segue into discussing group buying behaviors and how marketers identify and manage these group buying signals.

More often than not, B2B buying purchases are conducted by a group of people working together; it is rarely the decision of a single person. The number of decision-makers, or members of the buying group, can range from two to 10, and sometimes in complex, multi-million dollar deals, there are even more! At SiriusDecisions, we classify these buying scenarios into three segments: independent (where deal sizes are less than $50K and decisions are made in weeks with one or two decision-makers), consensus (where deal sizes go up to $500K and decisions are made in three to six months with two to six decision-makers), and committee (where deal sizes have no limits and decisions can take nine to 12 months with six to 10 decision-makers – sometimes more!).

In a poll taken by the 16 APAC-based B2B marketers in attendance at the Singapore event, most classified their buying scenarios as consensus, with some committee scenarios. Participants said that on average there were at least six buyers in a buying group. The challenge posed to today’s B2B marketers is understanding when members of those buying groups are active and determining how to recognize­­­ intent and buying signals across multiple touchpoints. Each of these touchpoints (e.g. web visits, downloads, event attendance) is an intent signal. However, because of how marketers traditionally identify a lead with lead scoring of individuals, we estimate that about half or more of intent signals are dismissed or ignored, leading to buying group blindness.

One way buying group blindness occurs is when there are two leads from the same organization for the same product at the same time. Everyone at the roundtable had a story to share about how they managed two MQLs from the same organization for the same product in the same week. A couple of individuals had more advanced methodologies like account scoring in place. For most, however, these second leads were ignored or dismissed as the first lead took precedence, thus proving the buying group blindness.

The truth is, each new lead from a prospect account is not duplication, but an additional signal, strengthening the evidence that that account is in buying mode. We call this problem second-lead syndrome.

To build an effective revenue engine, organizations must move away from lead-centric demand management strategies and adapt to changes in the buyer’s journey while leveraging advancements in technology. The first step is recognizing the problem and then taking the necessary steps to correct it. Marketing leaders must drive changes in strategy and culture as well as internal processes and systems. This is critical for maximizing the value of each account and leveraging marketing resources effectively.

At SiriusDecisions, we help clients identify buying group blindness within their own organization, gain organizational buy-in to address it, and deploy the right strategies to re-engineer demand management processes to correct it. If you are a SiriusDecisions client, please contact us so we can help arm you with strategies and tools to start correcting buying group blindness.