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Opportunity-Centric Buying Groups, the New B2B Sales Strategy

In the dynamic world of B2B sales and marketing, understanding and adapting to the intricacies of buyer behavior is crucial for success. As businesses strive to align their strategies with the complex decision-making processes of their prospects, the concept of Buying Groups has emerged as a game-changer. 

In a recent B2B Fusion podcast, LeanData CEO and Co-Founder Evan Liang, along with Jon Russo and Megan Heuer, explored the essentials of the new go-to-market (GTM) motion: Opportunity-Centric Buying Groups.

So whether you’re an enterprise grappling with long sales cycles or a growing company looking to refine your go-to-market strategy, understanding Buying Groups can significantly enhance your sales efficiency and revenue outcomes.

In this article, we’ll highlight the steps to transition from traditional MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) measurement to an Opportunity-based approach, and the tools and processes needed for this transformation.



How to Define a Buying Group 

A Buying Group in B2B sales is defined as a collection of individuals at a prospect company who are involved in making a purchase decision. This concept is not new to sales teams, who have always operated with this understanding. 

The key is to align sales and marketing systems and processes around this group. In essence, a Buying Group consists of all the relevant stakeholders within a target account who contribute to the buying process. 

A qualified, Opportunity-centric Buying Group is better than an MQL.



How to Convince the Board to Make the Change from MQL Measurement to an Opportunity-based Approach 

To convince your board and C-suite to shift from a marketing qualified lead (MQL) measurement to an Opportunity-Centric approach, Evan Liang suggests a gradual transition rather than a hard switch. 

Here are the key steps: 

#1 Dual Reporting

Start by reporting on both MQLs and Opportunities. This allows stakeholders to see the benefits of the new system without completely abandoning the old metrics they are familiar with. 

#2 Direct Answers 

Address direct questions from the board and stakeholders transparently. Attempting to avoid their questions can create distrust. 

#3 Illustrate Benefits

Demonstrate how the Opportunity-based approach can provide a more accurate picture of the sales pipeline and revenue potential. Highlight how it aligns marketing efforts more closely with sales objectives and ultimately improves revenue generation. 

29 powerful statistics about buying groups, opportunity motions, and MQLs.



What Tools & Processes Do You Need & Who Is Involved in an Organization to Make the Transition? 

To transition to an Opportunity-Centric Buying Groups approach, several tools and processes are required, involving key personnel from various departments.

Tools

  • CRM Systems: A robust CRM like Salesforce, which supports the concept of Opportunity Contact roles. 
  • Automation Tools: Technology that automates Lead conversion, Contact creation, and Opportunity management. These tools help in automatically forming and managing Buying Groups without burdening sales reps. 
  • Enrichment Tools: Tools to ensure the accuracy and completeness of Contact data. 


Processes

  • Lead-to-Opportunity Automation: Processes to convert Leads to Contacts and assign them appropriate roles in Opportunities. 
  • Alignment of Sales and Marketing: Clear processes to ensure smooth handoffs and collaboration between sales and marketing teams.
  • Opportunity Routing: Designing complex workflows for routing Opportunities based on various criteria like product line, geography, and market segment. 


Involved Personnel

  • Marketing Operations (MOps): Typically the champions of this transition, responsible for implementing and managing new processes and tools. 
  • Sales Operations (SalesOps): Work closely with MOps to ensure sales processes align with the new approach. 
  • Sales and Marketing Teams: Active participants in adapting to the new system and providing feedback for continuous improvement. 
  • IT and Data Management Teams: Support the integration and maintenance of necessary tools and ensure data quality. 
At What Stage Does a Company Consider Focusing on Buying Groups?



At What Stage Does a Company Consider Focusing on Buying Groups? 

A company should consider focusing on Buying Groups when they reach a certain level of go-to-market complexity. This is often influenced by several factors: 

  1. Multiple Product Lines: Companies with multiple products that may appeal to different stakeholders within the same account. 
  2. Higher ASP (Average Selling Price): When the selling price of products is higher, and the sales cycle is longer, involving more stakeholders. 
  3. Complex Sales Cycles: If the sales process involves multiple touchpoints and decision-makers over an extended period.

In addition, enterprise companies often adopt an Opportunity-Centric Buying Group motion earlier due to their complex sales environments, but smaller and mid-sized companies with similar complexities can also benefit from this approach. 

The shift to a Buying Group motion becomes more critical as companies move beyond simple transactional sales to more strategic, relationship-based selling. 


What Distinguishes Companies That Succeed From Those That Experience False Starts? 

Companies who have been successful with a Buying Group motion set themselves apart with these five characteristics:

  1. Securing executive buy-in
  2. Aligning sales and marketing efforts
  3. Starting with smaller pilots
  4. Showing metrics for ongoing support
  5. Addressing challenges iteratively


What are the Mistakes to Avoid When Transitioning From Leads to an Opportunity-Centric Approach? 

To avoid pitfalls in transitioning from Leads to an Opportunity-Centric approach, companies should not wait for perfect data. In addition, they should avoid being paralyzed by the need for a flawless plan. 

In addition, it’s important to involve key stakeholders early. There should be a common understanding that involving more people (aka the Buying Group) will speed up the deal cycle.

metrics used in an opportunity-centric buying group motion



What Metrics Will Measure if the Transition to Buying Groups is Effective? 

To determine if the transition to an Opportunity-Centric GTM motion is successful, consider the following metrics:

  • Compare the close rates of different Buying Groups
  • Analyze engagement and success rates
  • Track the impact of adding new members to the Buying Group
  • Map the buying process stages


How Does a Buying Group Motion Change Across Different Sides of the Funnel? 

Buying Groups behave differently in acquisition and upsell/cross-sell phases. Acquisition focuses on new business metrics and lead conversion. In contrast, upsell/cross-sell activities involve complex data analysis, multi-threading strategies, and post-sale expansion efforts, with a shift towards holistic customer lifecycle management.

Tags
  • b2b go to market
  • Buying Groups
  • opportunity pipeline
  • Opportunity Routing
About the Author
Jon Russo with B2B Fusion
Jon Russo

Jon Russo is a three-time global Chief Marketing Officer in successful public and private SaaS companies in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Luxembourg. Jon has led and experienced four successful exits of private companies through over $3B in market capitalization before starting his own agency. Today, he leads B2B Fusion, an ABX agency designed to optimize marketing technologies and business processes to drive effective revenue growth across technology, healthcare, and financial services.