We all know the B2B buying process for IT products priced at $50k or higher is complex. There are more people involved with different stakes in the ground. BtoB's Lead Generation Guide wrote about how the Sirius Decisions 2011 B-to-B Buyer's Journey survey highlights just how important knowing about these perceptions can be.
The survey identified 5 types of buyers involved in the IT purchase decision:
Champions - 42% are key sponsors of the purchase
Influencers - 16% are trusted sources operating behind the scenes
Ratifiers - 16% have the final purchase decision, signing authority
Negotiators - 8% who manage price, term and conditions
Users/Evaluators - 3% are those impacted by the purchase
Those of you who are solely focused on the gaining access to a buyer who can ink the deal (ratifiers) should take a second look at expanding your opportunities for engagement. Buying takes a village.
What I find interesting is that competitive impact is the highest factor for calculating return on investment (ROI) impact for end users and evaluators. Champions and influence rated money saved as more important. Additionally, ease of use is important to end users, but not so much to champions and influencers.
Interestingly, increased revenues wasn't in the review of the report I read. And time saved - which usually translates into efficiency - only came in at 10% with champions and 14% with influencers.
Given this insight, does the story you're telling fit the perceptions of the leads you're trying to engage?
For those of you finding it difficult to engage buyers, pay attention to search which is one of the top methods, word of mouth through industry peers also ranks high and 11% across the board say they use social media as a research technique.
The fact that industry analysts ranks right behind search and peers can also be seen as a validation that buyers are looking for ideas and insight - thought leadership - more so than product feeds and speeds.
Once again, we're seeing that the best way to connect with buyers is to address what's important to them. Even a small shift in messaging can make the difference in the amount of engagement your marketing content will receive based on the buyer type you're engaging with.
This said, ensuring that your content and company can be found when buyers start to look is critical. Reputation is as important as ever given that discussing needs with industry peers comes in second. But don't overlook work colleagues as recommenders. Expanding your contact ratio within companies is just as important as finding new companies to engage.
by Ardath Albee
Ardath Albee, B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing e-marketing strategies driven by compelling content. She taps over 20 years of business management and marketing experience to help clients, including Covad Communications, LANDesk and Silicon Graphics [SGI], create customer-focused nurturing programs to engage and progress prospects to sales readiness. Her book, E-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale will be out this fall from McGraw-Hill. Ardath also authors the industry-leading Marketing Interactions blog.