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Do you really know who your buyers are? (Clue: it’s not just the C-suite)

by Nicola Ferrero

September 28, 2018

Who’s really pulling the strings when it comes to buying your wares? Earnest’s latest video on B2B buying behaviour, Vital Stats 3, suggests it’s not just the usual suspects – the C-Suite.

Sure, if you can get their ear, win their trust and prove your value, you’ve a great chance of sealing the deal.

Because going upstream means you can help shape their strategy and the need – and move from A.N.Other vendor to respected advisor.

But that’s hard.

You’re competing for their time and attention – not only with loads of other brands trying to elbow you out of the way, but with all the other responsibilities they’re juggling.

The stakes are high too: an ill-judged approach or one unsolicited email too many and you’re more likely to make the blacklist than the shortlist.

Now the good news: there’s a way to reach C-Level people without reaching out to just C-Level people.

Millennials have a big say on the final word

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of senior execs have the final word on B2B purchases – but 81% who influence that word aren’t senior.

In real terms: if you’re going all out, targeting those at the top of the tree, you’re massively underestimating the role and influence of others.

The researchers.

The in-house experts.

The budget holders.

The advisers.

The problem solvers.

The potential users.

The people who are often ignored or, worse still, brushed off for being too junior or lacking authority.

And that’s a big mistake.

Because they have something you don’t have with their C-Suite – clout.

They’re the people the board and other senior managers listen to and respect.

And guess what? They’re the people drawing up the shortlists and making recommendations.

Here’s another surprising stat to chew on: 77% of researchers, evaluators and recommenders are millennials.

Those 20 and 30-somethings reared on a diet of Instagram, Netflix and Vice – their mobile never far from their grasp.

So ask yourself: are you doing enough to engage these unrecognised major players? Does your brand, content and sales force speak to them too?

Because if you’re not speaking their language and on their radar, chances are it’s costing you a lot of business.

5 ways to target the right audience

1. Speak to customers

Ask for an hour of their time and quiz them on how they arrived at their buying decision. Who was involved? When? Why? What worked for them? What didn’t? How did they feel?

2. Analyse your data

Build clearer profiles of the people making enquiries, downloading your content, attending industry events. And be honest: how many are you dismissing as too junior to warrant a follow-up?

3. Experiment with audiences

Build campaigns aimed at a broader decision-making team – not just the C-Suite. Explore using different types of content and channels. Test. Learn. Optimise.

4. Educate your sales teams

Make sure they don’t overlook influential audiences in their account plans. Arm them with different messages and content to support audiences’ different needs – and build consensus and willing advocates within accounts.

5. Win hearts and minds

Be the brand that recommenders, evaluators and influencers know, like and respect. The most helpful. The most trusted. The one they’ll stick their neck out for.


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