How Champions Are Made: Understanding the Leaders Who Drive Purchase Decisions

The key to influencing a business-to-business purchasing group? Find your brand champion.

Mysterious and elusive, yet critical to closing the deal, a champion is the ultimate decision driver within a purchasing team. Whether a formal buying committee is established or an ad hoc group comes together organically, in 84% of cases, a champion will rise and serve as an advocate for the winning vendor.1

The impact of a champion’s clout is hard to overstate. In fact, in nearly two-thirds of cases, the champion’s opinions are cited as the biggest influence on the final choice.2 In other words, influence the influencer and obtain the power to persuade the whole group.

But how can a vendor identify a brand champion and ensure he advocates for your company over the competition? The secret lies in determining what your champion wants and proving that you’re the vendor who can give it to him.

 

How (and When) to Make Your Mark

If you’re waiting until someone contacts you to win over your champion, you’re already far behind. Research shows that, in advance of direct contact with a vendor, 57% of the purchase process is already complete.5 What’s more, only one-third of purchase process activities involve buying teams interacting with providers. The remainder of time is spent on internal processes and communicating with peers and other influencers.6 That means the window of opportunity to influence your champion is narrow.

If you do have the ear of someone on the buying team, that’s great. However, it’s not adequate to rely on your initial point of contact to sway the rest of the group. Nearly all members (97%) have a vendor in mind prior to starting a group conversation.7 Instead of banking on one contact to advocate for your company, you must locate and influence a brand champion as far in advance as possible. There are a few ways to do this:

Send a message that resonates.

It can be extremely valuable to create a targeted content campaign that resonates with your champion’s needs. Persona research and industry trend reports can help determine which benefits to emphasize. If you’re still not sure, conducting an A/B test on two contrasting messages can help you shape a compelling story.

Let them see who you are.

For 59% of B2B executives, a potential partner’s values are more important than innovation or market domination.8 What’s more, 83% say they’re more likely to buy from a business with a similar culture to their own.9 Let your company’s culture and values shine by broadcasting them through your content efforts and across social media and other platforms.

Practice what you preach.

As the adage goes, actions speak louder than words. Demonstrating thought leadership and a thorough understanding of the industry is a surefire way to earn a champion’s respect and show that you can help his company achieve its goals. Creating a genuine sense of empathy from the very beginning can set you apart from the competition. For 89% of purchase groups, feeling like their needs are understood is a crucial factor when selecting a vendor.

Exploring How Groups Make Decisions

The significant role a champion plays in any major purchase decision is just one of the key insights from the new report, “Group. Mind. Set. How Group Dynamics Impact B2B Decisions.” Findings were based on a survey of B2B marketers conducted by B2B Marketing in collaboration with gyro, a global B2B agency. To learn more about how to influence decision-making groups, read the full report here.


1B2B Marketing and gyro, “Group. Mind. Set. How Group Dynamics Impact B2B Decisions,” survey of 113 global B2B marketers; 45% based in the UK, 41% based in North American, remaining 14% based elsewhere.

2Ibid.

3Ibid.

4Howard Breindel, Forbes Agency Council, “Millennials Are Buying For Businesses. What Does This Mean For Your B2B Brand?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/06/28/millennials-are-buying-for-businesses-what-does-this-mean-for-your-b2b-brand/#1a9c8efb5c00 (accessed May 8, 2018).

5B2B Marketing and gyro, “Group. Mind. Set. How Group Dynamics Impact B2B Decisions,” survey of 113 global B2B marketers; 45% based in the UK, 41% based in North American, remaining 14% based elsewhere.

6Hank Barns, Gartner, Inc., “The Journey to B2B Technology Purchases – B2B Team Buying Thickens the Plot,” https://blogs.gartner.com/hank-barnes/2014/09/30/b2b-team-buying (accessed May 2, 2018).

7B2B Marketing and gyro, “Group. Mind. Set. How Group Dynamics Impact B2B Decisions,” survey of 113 global B2B marketers; 45% based in the UK, 41% based in North American, remaining 14% based elsewhere.

8Ibid.

9Ibid.