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Demandbase CEO on Coming Sea Changes

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June 20, 2023

4 mins read

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Demandbase CEO on Coming Sea Changes

As a CEO, I’m often asked about what I see coming on the horizon, and right now I see two sea changes washing ashore — one will transform the world; the other B2B.

Since most of you reading this are in B2B, I’ll start with that one.

Buying Groups: As big as the shift from leads to accounts

Gabe Rogol This is hot buying groups video feature image

If you were around before the days of ABM, you know how massive the change was from lead-based marketing to account-based marketing. Marketing automation had been a huge step forward for the industry. Automation brought greater efficiency. Analytics provided accountability and enabled data-based decision making. Marketers could manage, nurture, and track leads at scale. It was huge. The problem was that the focus was on leads, and individuals rarely make B2B buying decisions alone. Companies do — or so we thought — and we collectively shifted to account-based marketing.

We had known for some time that leads were not the most efficient way to drive B2B revenue. You could waste a lot of time and money chasing interested individuals, only to realize their companies were not a good fit for your product or business model. Or to learn they weren’t seriously considering a purchase.

Sales thought in terms of accounts, while marketing pursued leads, which created a disconnect between the teams and fostered mis-alignment. And as B2B solutions became more complex, more people within an account became involved in making purchasing decisions. Leads were clearly not the best approach.

But even though we knew that leads were too narrow, it took more than a mind shift to bring account-based marketing to life. We needed technology to be able to map individual leads to accounts, to aggregate individuals’ behavior at the account level so we could recognize the difference between a single interested person and an account in a buying cycle. We needed richer company data so we could identify the accounts to pursue. And we needed to be able to track and measure activity and results at the account level.

Enter ABM technology to overcome these challenges. Companies can now zero in on their best fit accounts, and track their behavior and intent, so they can engage when the accounts are most likely to buy. To date, ABM has been the most efficient and effective way to drive B2B revenue. And we took another huge step forward. 

With ABM technologies, sales and marketing teams can now align on where revenue will come from and more effectively navigate the non-linear digital customer journey.  Instead of marketing focusing on leads and sales waiting for the hand-off, actions are orchestrated based on account data and technology. 

Still, while targeting accounts has been closer to the mark, we’ve known for some time that accounts are not sufficient in themselves. As  Forrester Research points out, buying groups “better align with the true buyer in virtually all B2B buying decisions — a group of people (the buying group) all working together to solve a business issue.”

So while leads are too narrow, accounts, as it turns out, can be too broad, because we don’t sell to every individual at a company. The real buyers are the select group of people within an account that Forrester talks about. Yet as in the shift from leads to accounts, until now, we haven’t had the technology to automate a go-to-market that revolves around buying groups rather than accounts.

We’ve relied on guesswork to identify the members of buying groups, which inevitably leads to inaccuracy. And even if we could manually guess at all the right members of all the buying groups at each of our accounts, there hasn’t been any way to see their behavior in aggregate to know how interested the group is or where they are in the buying journey. And there’s been no way to engage with them as a group. 

That’s why I’m beyond excited about our Buying Group AI announcement earlier this month. It is the technology we’ve been waiting for to make buying groups a practical reality.

Using our unique combination of proprietary AI, rich, validated B2B company and contact data, and automated orchestration across engagement channels, our Buying Group AI will:

  • Automatically generate buying groups and assign roles
  • Aggregate the groups’ buying signals, so you can quickly see which ones are in an active buying cycle
  • Streamline engagement by making it easy to add an entire group to a campaign  
  • Be smart enough to generate different groups for different products, as the buyers solving one business problem are often quite different from those solving another business problem 
  • Adjust members’ roles dynamically as the group moves through the buying journey

In short, Buying Group AI will treat buying groups as objects in the same way we treat leads and accounts today, with all the same actions and analytics. It will revolutionize B2B to the same magnitude that ABM did. So buckle up! This is one revolution you don’t want to miss. Learn more here

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how automated buying groups will change your world. You can reach me at

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Gabe Rogol

CEO, Demandbase

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