Targeting the Right Market: Who Are The Decision-Makers?

Just who is making the purchasing decisions these days may surprise you. If your business is focusing on grabbing the attention of the CEO and top managers, you may be missing the workers you most need to impress.

According to Google research, 81% of non-C-suite influencers have a say in purchase decisions and 24% have the final say! [i]. Furthermore, in 2014, 18- to 34-year olds accounted for almost half of all B2B researchers, an increase of 70% from 2012.

These younger workers—termed Millennials—are accustomed to seeking out information about a product before they make contact with a sales person. “Research shows that those involved in the B2B buying process are already 57% of the way down the path to a decision before they’ll actually perform an action on your site,” write Google account planners Kelsey Snyder and Pashmeena Hilal.

Technology is second hand to this generation of workers, born after 1980, who grew up using computers in school. They’re constantly on their phones checking email, interacting on social media, watching YouTube videos and getting text alerts. They use apps to compare prices, read about products, and buy things they want using their smart phones or devices.

Still, catching a millennial’s attention is just half the battle. According to a report from The CMO Council published earlier this year, “B2B buyers, influencers and researchers are not simply consuming content and speeding to decisions. Rather, they are creating distinct sharing circles that curate and circulate content across the decision-making hierarchy.[ii]

According to that report there are three primary types of sharing circles:

  • From the Middle Out (35 percent of respondents): Content sourcing and purchase decisions are driven by execution-level executives, but senior management is informed about how and why key decisions are made.
  • From the Bottom Up (30 percent of respondents): Junior or mid-level managers source primary content and share upstream to members of senior management, who then make the final purchase decision.
  • From the Top Down (29 percent of respondents): Senior management consumes content, sending information downstream for product identification and final purchase and execution.

“What is immediately evident from the buyers surveyed is that no distinct sharing circle pattern dominates, posing a challenge to marketing organizations that have established content development strategies that only look to sway or attract a specific level of executive,” the CMO Council report observed.

The bottom line here is that marketers can’t afford to stick with traditional “shoot for the top” strategies, nor can they assume that delivering content to a millennial’s smartphone is the key to sales enablement for the next decade or so.

Every organization has its own patterns and there’s no one silver bullet that works for all. How the decision-making process works still requires a concerted effort to identify, qualify and engage the right prospects.

No matter what the latest marketing trends are, insight selling still requires developing knowledge about key prospects by company, title and role. Armed with a finely tuned database, you can utilize prospect surveys to more effectively determine who is making the purchase decisions and generate compelling data for creating targeted content.