HomeBlog Identifying Economic Buyers: The Forensic Approach

Identifying Economic Buyers: The Forensic Approach

April 06, 2016 | By Pat McAnally

  • A common problem for marketers building personas is lack of clarity on as to around the true economic buyer for an offering
  • Assume the role of lead investigator and dig into the forensics of successful deals
  • Build rapport with your marketing and sales operations teams to get accurate and consistent data

The first step for marketers who are building personas is prioritizing their target audience. The goal is finding that sweet spot that represents the best opportunity for revenue growth. To prioritize target audiences, we walk our clients through the process of looking at industries and organizational characteristics aligned to their business objectives.

forensicsThe next questions we ask are pretty basic: “Who is your economic buyer? Where does the budget live?” You’d be surprised at how often they don’t know the answers. Sometimes it’s because product marketing is so closely associated with product management and development activities that there’s a myopic focus on users. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have an opportunity to talk to real customers, or there’s a lack of connection with sales. Whatever the reason, the organization doesn’t have a handle on who actually signs the contract, and that information is critical for those pursuing an audience-centric marketing approach.

Now, I’ve always been a fan of TV police procedural dramas where forensic science plays a strong role. Shows like NCIS, CSI or Bones – once you get past the gory autopsy shots – really present a mixture of art and science as the protagonists collect more information in each scene and get ever closer to revealing the truth.

So I use that comparison and send the marketers off like medical examiners on a journey to compile a body of knowledge about the economic buyer. I ask them to make their next stop a meeting with sales operations to look at what information the salesforce automation platform collects.

There’s often a wealth of data that isn’t being leveraged. What contacts are associated with recent deals? Examine the DNA of those deals – are there distinguishing factors by buying center, functional roles or organizational characteristics? Then continue the exploration with marketing operations and the digital team to flesh out the identities of buyers and associated influencers.

Some clients report that the data they collect isn’t very good. Our advice? Map what you can and then, like a true lead investigator, move on to the witnesses. Comb win/loss reports for clues. Convene frontline sales managers and high performers who have closed deals, and draw on their expertise. By doing this kind of hands-on investigation, marketers can feel confident that they’ve got the right targets and can proceed with primary research with customers and prospects.

There’s an additional benefit to this forensic approach: By establishing rapport with “lab partners” in sales and marketing operations, product marketers are better positioned to get accurate and consistent data. And finally, just like when the plot shifts on crime shows as new evidence is uncovered, the sales and marketing ops teams can monitor the dynamic nature of deals that are closing and provide intelligence to refine buyer personas and reveal how they are making decisions.

Grab your lab coat and head over to artandscience.siriusdecisions.com, where you’ll find tools and resources to help you identify and evaluate your target buyers.

Pat McAnally

Pat McAnally is Research Director, Portfolio Marketing, at SiriusDecisions. She is a seasoned marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience in product and solutions marketing and management, sales enablement, thought leadership and analyst relations. Follow Pat on Twitter @patmcanally.

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