This post was originally published on the ABM Leadership Alliance blog.
Decision committees are on the rise and they’re only growing, according to Harvard Business Review. The number of people involved in B2B buying decisions has increased from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today. Not only that, those within the group have a wide range of roles, functions, and geographies. All of this is making life tough for both your sales and marketing teams.
Marketing has plenty of challenges in supporting an account-based sale, but the account executives have the steeper task of developing relationships, understanding group dynamics and managing personalities in ever growing buying committees. Marketers should keep this in mind, trust their sales counterparts, and set them up for success before and after handing off warm and engaged accounts.
Here are four ways marketing can help sales rise to those challenges:
1. Focus on the individuals, not the group
Remember, you’re selling to a company, but it’s actual human beings that are doing the buying. And each human being has a unique ego, so keep track of each one and figure out how to service these aspects. That means focusing on an individual’s needs while not losing track of the group’s needs. That’s why marketing should support sales with personalized content, a variety of case studies and customer examples, and developing a brand that individuals can identify with.
2. Know your champion
84% of all buying groups have a champion and that person is the key influencer in 59% of the cases. This is the very reason you need to focus on all of the individuals because the balance of the buying group holds half of the influence.
That said, 66% of champions cite content, research and expertise as the primary considerations in purchasing. If the champion trusts that you are the expert in the room, you can get the group to follow along.
3. Right target, right time
Persona-based content is crucial for successful account-based sales and marketing. Different industries and personas have different ways of talking, and the ways they define success can vary. Make sure you’re taking the time to talk to disparate audiences differently. A helpful way of identifying what content you need to produce is a matrix with your target industries on one axis and the buying committee personas on the other. Are you able to check off every combination?
Once you’ve developed your set of content, being able to deliver that content at the right moment is crucial. One thing the Sigstr team does is trigger content based off of sales stages in our CRM. When sales changes a stage, marketing automatically updates our email signature banners. Sales and marketing alignment is great and automated alignment is the best!
4. Don’t be afraid of emotion
You’ll probably be surprised to learn that 95% of purchasing decisions are done subconsciously. Not only is great research and content crucial to your account-based sale, it also helps your buyers justify their emotions.
That might be why 97% of B2B marketers say that their decision is made before the buying committee is even formed! People want to buy from brands they trust and enjoy. They rely on your expertise, content, and fellow committee members to help convince themselves that the decision they’ve already made is the right one.
Build a brand that prospects identify with and respect. That’s how marketing can help with all of the above. Of course this doesn’t happen overnight and isn’t something you can learn from a single blog post.
However, this final thought might be a good starting point. Forget B2B and B2C – never sell to an account. All marketing is H2H, so always sell to a human being.