While not a new term, Consensus Marketing is becoming more common in marketing’s lexicon as the dynamics of business-to-business (B2B) decision making are changing. As many marketers in B2B industries are observing, today’s major purchases are made by large groups of diverse stakeholders, forcing interaction among CFOs, COOs, CIOs and other C-suite executives. In fact, a recent CEB survey reveals the average buying group for a B2B purchase decision is a whopping 5.4 people.
The CEB suggests that each person is motivated to purchase based on three distinct value lenses: company value, performance value and identity value. The third lens – identity value – refers to the value a solution brings to an individual personally (e.g., self-esteem, social belonging). And it’s this lens that has the greatest impact on driving a stakeholder to promote consensus. When a stakeholder believes he will personally benefit from a solution, he will work harder to build consensus among the decision-making group.
Forward-thinking marketers should be cognizant of this shift from single decision makers to group decision making – and purposefully communicate in the language of company and performance value as well as identity value. For example, a solution’s attributes may be described as offering an improved customer experience or attractive ROI. However, marketers need to go further to successfully convey identity value – such as appealing to a buyer’s desire to be the catalyst for game-changing competitiveness by promoting the solution’s cutting-edge technology.
In a consensus marketing world, B2B marketers need advocates inside the decision-making circle – individuals that see enough personal value to push the group toward agreement. Instead of just making your solutions look better, you’ve got to focus on making your target buyer look better too.