It’s now widely understood that most B2B purchases are made by groups of people. According to CEB, the average B2B buying group now includes 5.4 individuals. SiriusDecisions says that B2B buying groups range in size from 1-2 decision makers to 6-10 or more decision makers, depending on the dollar value of the purchase.
In virtually all cases, these buying groups must reach a consensus before a purchase will be made, and that doesn’t come easily or quickly in many cases. Recent research by CEB found that B2B buying groups now typically include diverse stakeholders whose goals and interests can conflict, which can make consensus difficult to reach.
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The CEB research also found that while reaching consensus decisions is hard at all stages of the buying process, the greatest challenge is getting consensus on the type of solution to acquire and implement. The second most difficult challenge is reaching a consensus on the definition of the problem that needs to be addressed.
This means that buying groups have the greatest difficulty achieving consensus during the early stages of the buying process, when they are more likely to be performing research on their own and relying on content to help them define their problem and identify possible solutions. Therefore, it’s important for B2B marketers to develop content resources that will help buying groups reach a consensus on these essential issues.
Developing content that supports the consensus-building process requires a deep understanding of buyer goals and interests. To lay the foundation for creating consensus-friendly content, you will need to take three steps:
- First, identify the relevant goals and interests of each member of the buying group.
- Second, identify which goals and interests are shared by multiple members of the buying group.
- And finally, identify which goals and interests are in conflict (actually or potentially).
- How will this type of solution help me [the target persona] achieve my goals and protect my interests?
- How will this type of solution help my colleagues in the buying group achieve their goals and protect their interests?