Business-to-Business thrives on the simple principle of buying and selling. In an article published in Social Media Today entitled, “Goal-Directed Decision Making Drives B2B Buying And Selling,” written by Tony Zambito, the author clearly states that the impact of digital and social technologies on the nature of buying and selling, however, cannot be understated. They have changed how businesses interact and engage in the acts of buying and selling.
One constant, research in the social sciences have proven, is the acts of buying and selling are by and large goal-directed activities and behaviors. These behaviors and activities are powerful influences on decision-making in the world of B2B buying and selling. So powerful, in fact, B2B decision makers often select strategies, short-term plans, and long-term plans based upon the personalized goals they may be striving for.
At the core of buyer persona development is the use of a goal-directed research and modeling methodology designed to move beyond just understanding the process of decision-making. It is intended to identify and illuminate goal-directed motivations and emotions, which reveal insights into why and how decisions are made. Personas, in general, originate from the concept of understanding goal-directed behaviors.
For business marketers, the goal-directed concept and methodology serves as a ready marker to distinguish authentic buyer personas from the glut of misinforming buyer profiling content masquerading as buyer personas. These buyer profiles basically emphasize the traditional process-based and product requirement-based views of buyers.
Business marketers and sellers continue to seek understanding on the why and how of decision-making. The game of guessing also continues as made evident by the various annual surveys showing 70% or more of content is found to be irrelevant by buyers. As mentioned, the impact of digital and social technologies has made this need more urgent. It has, in many ways, shown how fundamentally flawed the traditional approach of understanding buying behaviors entirely through the traditional staged buying process of Awareness-Consideration-Decision really is.
The current state of B2B marketing and sales is one of continued fixation on the process, funnel, or the new terminology of the same thing, journey. This approach, in the modern digital world, is very inadequate in helping organizations to understand the underlying goals driving the why and how of decision-making. Yet, the fixation continues as we try to “automate” these processes via sales automation and marketing automation.
To truly understand such processes and journeys, we must do so by understanding them through the context of goal-directed activities, behaviors, and choices. Otherwise, they offer none to very little revelation to goal-directed decision-making.
Understanding decision-making comes through attaining a deep understanding of the underlying goals, as well as, the goal-directed behaviors driving decisions. B2B buyers are making decisions within the context of both organizational and personal goals they may be striving to accomplish. These goals often can reside both on the conscious and subconscious level. They can also often go unarticulated directly by buyers.
Gaining a deep understanding of goals and goal-directed behaviors are what B2B marketers and sellers need to make the connection to understanding decisions. It helps to illuminate the path buyers are taking to accomplish goals and their relations to solutions under consideration. Most importantly, it takes the guesswork out of how to communicate with buyers. You do so by communicating and demonstrating how you and your organization help fulfill goals.
Despite the tremendous forces of change occurring in the digital era, fundamental buying and selling in B2B remains largely predicated on goal-directed activities and behaviors. These goal-directed activities and behaviors lead to outcomes. Primarily B2B decisions are outcomes based on, as well as, driven by profound and meaningful goals.
The path for B2B marketers and sellers to be successful today is one, which leads to understanding goal-directed decision-making. It is not the quick and easy path promised by erroneous profiling templates or online tools. It is a path where the emphasis and responsibility becomes one of helping businesses and people to fulfill their goals.
About The Author
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com.