The group business: B2B brands need to seek out senior-level 'brand champions' to reach business goals

In B2B relationships, it's often the group dynamics—and the champions within them—that matter says a Gyro survey. / Gyro

In a global survey of 113 marketers, B2B agency Gyro found that when making purchases for business, 84% of groups relied on the preferences of a senior-level "champion" to make decisions.

The survey, a collaboration between Gyro and B2B Marketing, also found that in more than half (59%) the cases, that champion’s opinions are cited as the biggest influence. This meant, according to Simon Mouyal, chief marketer of Medidata, that the customer-business relationship needs to be constant. “The decision is often made even before the selection process for a new vendor or an RFP has even started. It questions the efficacy of an email nurture programme that kicks off only after a customer has watched a webcast or has downloaded a white paper about a specific topic; because by the time you score them up, it’s just too late.”

These findings went against the percieved notion that group dynamics are often complicated, which makes it crucial for marketers to seek out that champion to influence their decisions. For these champions, it was crucial that their needs are understood and met. Said John Harmeling, chief marketing officer of accounting firm Grant Thornton, “The ingredients for locating and appealing to an internal champion are meeting the unmet needs with a solution that you can expertly deliver. Then, find ways to make that individual, in his or her role, more successful personally.”

What makes the difference in the decision-making process? 54% of those surveyed said clear and consistent communication was imperative, while 51% requested active listeners who asked good questions. 43% appreciated those willing to give feedback, and even challenge ideas.

In an additional Gyro survey, done with Fortune Knowledge Group for a group of over 500 executives, the corporate culture has become an additional factor for the business-to-business relationship. Around 81% of executives said a company’s beliefs and how they choose to do business directly correlates with building successful long-term relationships.

And 59% of respondents said a company’s ethos and foundation was more important than innovation or market domination when choosing a partner. Among those elements: a founding idea; vision and mission statement; values; practices and processes; a narrative; and people.

Overall, the survey found that just like for B2C marketers, the group dynamics of B2B clients are very important. And even more important: the people and the inner workings of that potential business partner itself.

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