Decoding B2B decision making has become highly complex. And the criteria that customers use for decision making is in constant motion and is in flux. B2B customers also expect seamless movement from digital engagements to in-person touchpoints to virtual experiences.
Leading marketers from tech to telecommunications companies provided their insights on the dynamic changes in B2B decision making today.
Product led growth (PLG) has long been the key strategy for B2B tech marketers, but this approach needs to evolve to work in tandem with account-based marketing (ABM). “The lead-based logic of creating opportunities is broken,” says one tech CMO.
Whether a product trial, demo, or event is deployed, no single one of these experiences will convert a win. The key is to bring all these parts together for a conversation, he says.
B2B decision making is not all driven by rational thinking, according to panelist Chris Graves, an expert in behavioral science. He shared one study that examined judges’ sentencing in court cases which found that they delivered drastically more punitive sentences in cases that came right before lunchtime when they may have been feeling hungry. It’s a great example of how emotions can play a greater role in decision making than we understand.
Every human has a unique thinking and deciding style, like a “deciding genome.” And marketers should take their customers’ deciding style into account. “It’s an entire universe of humans that you’re ignoring,” says Graves.
And with the emergence of AI, marketers can use tools that decode decision making styles and better match customers’ decision-making style.
As we work to target key decision makers, it’s important to keep in mind that customers are complex. One marketing leader shared her company’s strategy of targeting B2B small businesses by taking a more personal route. “We need to show how our products can enable them to accomplish their business goals.”
B2B marketing can often veer into the abstract, but making things more concrete and human can help decision makers visualize the offering and how it can help them reach goals.
As buying groups have become more complex. B2B decision making has also become more cumbersome.
One leading tech executive emphasized the importance of understanding all the key decision makers — technical people, marketers, HR leaders, and finance—and talking to them in their respective languages. “It’s the orchestration of all these elements, making sure the users are collaborating with each other.”
Looking forward, marketers shared areas where they’d like to devote more focus.
One telecommunications client mentioned the importance of having more visibility into data and to be able to access it at the right moment to make the best decisions. In addition, she hoped there would be more time and space for testing and learning, which are the necessary steps in order to leapfrog as an organization.
For another tech leader, he was satisfied with his visibility into data, but wished he had more time to spend as a “teacher” helping to inspire and educate his teams. “The fact that I know things isn’t helpful, what we need are sellers and consultants to become believers.”