When it comes to informing decisions to buy software, digital devices, and other business-to-business products, employees below the vice president level play a surprisingly big role. Almost 80% of more junior staff in the IT organization have a significant influence on the decision making, a recent survey of 279 US buyers and 121 marketers by Bain & Company and Twitter shows. These influencers said they spend 57% of their time, on average, with community sources of information—talking with colleagues, reading customer reviews and published insights, attending industry forums—rather than with direct sales representatives or product demonstrations.
Yet many B2B marketers overlook them, allocating only 16% of their budget to community building. By contrast, winning marketers (defined as companies that increased revenue by at least 10% and market share by at least 3 percentage points over the past two years) invest more in their customers’ junior influencers by offering free training, user groups, and tailored content. Indeed, compared with other companies, winning marketers allocate 1.4 times the budget to community-building activities.