Buying Groups: The Missing Piece of the Lead Generation Puzzle

By Elizabeth D’Arcy-Potts, VP of Sales, Pipeline360

Often the hardest step is the first one, and when it comes to marketing, that’s increasingly the case with almost half of B2B marketers reporting problems reaching the very people they need to influence – buying groups.

A recent Pipeline360 survey – ‘The State of B2B Pipeline Growth’ – found that 47% of UK respondents found it hard, or really hard, to engage those involved in the purchasing process, while 51% expressed some difficulties. Given, securing new and qualified leads was deemed urgent and critical to 82% of those surveyed, building out buying groups has clearly become an important consideration.

Buyers are skipping the consideration stage, plotting their own journeys of least influence on platforms we don’t control; crowd-sourcing consensus. They’ve seen through the funnel, outgrown the playbook, and in doing so, have out-maneuvered teams trying to sway their thinking using traditional methods. And they’re so sure they’re right, they don’t even want to hear from sales, allocating just 5% of their time to closing deals.

Buyers haven’t just gone digital; they’ve gone completely hands-free. Put up the ‘do not disturb’ sign. So, how do B2B marketers reach the unreachable and overcome nightmare conditions – including budget and headcount constraints – that are moving targets and ROI further out of reach?

Firstly, marketers must understand that buying is a team sport, so getting an individual’s details is just the start and isn’t in itself, lead generation.

A proper lead, one that can be sold to, reflects the entire account – usually up to seven people – who have been properly nurtured. That’s why they only need a few minutes with sales, because everyone involved is already in agreement, and have had their personal needs met.

The rod and reel approach to leads is redundant. In the digital-age, marketers need to get greedy when it comes to data, and employ a drift-net approach, and that’s where content syndication (CS) comes in.

CS is the strategic republishing of content to multiple locations to increase the chances of it being seen by the right people at the right time and comes with the bonus of boosting brand awareness and credibility. But it is more than just a delivery system, CS elevates the lead gen process as it exposes brands to more members of a buying group to help them close the net on accounts.

CS isn’t a new tactic, but, somewhat surprisingly, 38% of those surveyed by Pipeline360 didn’t know what it is and 43% didn’t even know how it works. Just 23% were using it, making CS a greatly underutilised tool.

A Syndicated Solution to a Buying Group Problem

CS allows marketers to execute at scale, not so they can hit vanity metrics, but to optimise chances of reaching more of the right buyers, at the right time, with the right assets.

And it allows buyers to maintain control they’ve become accustomed to, because their details are only released if they download assets. That makes the process more organic, and the buying signal stronger.

By using CS, brands can build out buying groups at key accounts, capturing lead information from all the decision-making stakeholders when targeting a specific account or set of personas.

The B2C Experience Safe from GDPR Regulations

Reaching buyers is one thing, but they now expect a more personalised, B2C-experience, and that’s not easy to deliver as GDPR prohibits contact-level targeting. Marketers can, however, focus on job function, rather than title, and achieve similar, or better, results as the engagement net is cast wider.

While teams can’t go after key individuals and personalise messages to them specifically – they can personalise targeting to departments, or personas, and work from the outside in, effectively scooping up more influencers in the purchasing process.

With multiple people in buying groups, 27 touch-points in a journey and a 23-week cycle between consideration and conversion, marketers need to know more, and do more, all the time.

Integrating targeted display and CS solves a lot of problems as they can educate, nurture, and engage, simultaneously, and optimise processes continually. With better insights, marketers can generate better leads to build out buying groups across targeted accounts, which shortens sales cycles and boost conversion rates.

Marketers Must Trace Every Move Buyers Make

With buyers constantly reinventing their own purchasing journey, its essential marketers control every opportunity to engage with them so they can ensure the smoothest, and quickest, route to ROI. Not just for the individual buyer but the whole buying group. This is why CS is an essential tactic, it allows you to build out that buying group, by targeting the entire account and or persona, collecting data from each member of the buying group as they engage with your asset. Once you have that information you can engage them all throughout their individual buying journey. But to do that, you need to know who’s in it.

To Win the Crowd, Marketers Must Play to It

Winning over individuals is hard enough, let alone groups, who don’t want to engage or be influenced. But perhaps we’ve got it all wrong. Perhaps, it isn’t a case of buyers not needing us anymore. They simply outgrew the path laid out for them and adopted a DIY-approach because marketing and sales didn’t evolve to meet their needs.

All the tools are already available to build a new path. B2B marketers just need to use them.

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