A source of truth for all of us
Insights on “buying groups” from Forrester’s B2B Summit
by Lisa HoLung
The traditional, linear buyer journey has been debunked…
During my recent trip to Austin—for the annual Forrester B2B Summit—I had the pleasure of connecting with savvy marketers and technology enthusiasts from multiple disciplines, including sales, product, and customer success. Many attendees agreed that there were few surprises or “new releases” at this year’s Summit. Yet, they found value in having dedicated time to reflect on business challenges and engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas with fellow leaders.
A popular topic was the increased sophistication of buying groups. The traditional, linear buyer journey has been debunked and the role of sales is continually evolving. However, the rapid shift in the composition and goals of B2B buying groups is driving new thinking.
During the session titled “Managing Buyer Experience Changes Everything: Your 1-2-3 Guide To Getting Started,” Forrester Analyst Ross Graber stressed the importance of revisiting the four dimensions of value: economic, functional, symbolic, and experiential. These dimensions of value represent what truly matters to modern buyers.
While factors such as emotion and brand reputation still play a significant role in influencing buying decisions, the use of digital research and education carry greater weight. Today’s B2B buyers are driven by the need to consider a range of factors when proposing a solution internally, including ease of deployment, cost savings, time efficiency, scalability, and security. These demands shape the research process and influence the buying decision. Additionally, group members are growing in volume and are more geographically dispersed and data-savvy.
Amid this evolution in buyer values, both marketers and sellers have access to technology that can enhance decision-making while automating insights. MarTech providers including 6Sense, Demandbase, Intentsify, and TechTarget advocate for intent as, “The fuel that powers an always-on customer personalization engine.” In my role at April Six, I’ve seen first-hand how these technologies are transforming sales and marketing for our clients.
A common sales and marketing use-case involves the refinement or validation of Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs). One of our clients leveraged intent rich keywords against a list of target accounts in the retail industry—with the goal of uncovering which accounts were in an advanced research stage for its solution. With this technology, our client determined that its ideal customer within this segment was a mid-sized company with revenue of $1 million or more, and a tech footprint that includes Microsoft and VMware solutions. These insights help brands develop more effective account-based marketing programs that drive higher conversion rates and faster ROI on content, creative, and media activations.
As Forrester’s presentation demonstrated, intent signals must be viewed not merely as a targeting layer but as a source of valuable insights that can help teams identify the optimal timing and messaging to engage with buyers. So, let’s put to rest the perception that intent data is limited to owned on-site engagement or broadly researched topics on the open web. Fact is, modern signal measurement encompasses sentiments expressed on review sites, visits to curated publisher properties, social media feeds, insights from content syndication networks and services, and data triangulation across data providers such as Bombora and Zoominfo. This sophisticated combination of first- and third-party intent data, which is increasingly available and expanding in reach, enables true behavioral prioritization within the broader tech stack. The data can be centralized in the CRM, serving as a reliable foundation that allows all teams to speak, act, and plan according to the same source of truth, no matter how much (or how fast) it changes.
Staying attuned to the changing values and behaviors of buying groups—and leveraging technology to meet their evolving needs—will be crucial for marketers and sales professionals operating in today’s dynamic marketplace. For myself, the Forrester B2B Summit sessions were reminders that only through continuous adaptation and investment in analytics can B2B brands deliver the hyper-personalized experiences that lead to increased market share.