November 11, 2014

B2B Research Chart: How do prospects really feel about your marketing?

SUMMARY: Why is your company losing deals?

Perhaps it’s an issue of trust.

In this MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week, we'll take a look at results from a third-party survey of 401 small business owners to discover how you can improve your marketing information during the complex sales process.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

I used to love sitting in on win-loss report interviews. Sure, there was value in finding out why the enterprise software company I worked with won deals.

However, there was more value in the losses. After all, loss identifies ways to improve the marketing and sales process.

The limiting factor, though, was that this was all based on the sales rep’s opinion.

What did the customer really think?

To help answer that question, in this MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week, we'll take a look at results from a third-party survey of business owners by The Alternative Board (TAB):

Q. When evaluating a new product or service for your business, what is your biggest criticism of the information that you receive directly from the vendor?

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Help, don’t sell

As you can see, more than half of business owners looked at marketing information as too sales-centric.

This sentiment was even more pronounced among the future of the business world, with 62% of 25 to 54 year olds saying that marketing information was too sales-oriented.

Information is everywhere

No longer do companies have control over the information about their products. From social media to easy Web publishing, customers have many outlets to find information about your products and services. As a result, they look at the marketing information coming directly from vendors and their competitors in a different light than they did in the past.

Does your marketing information help them make the best decision for their business, or is it just trying to sell them a product, no matter what solution they really need? This unfortunate potential perception can cause you to lose credibility with the customer.

Building a trusting relationship with customers both early in the funnel …

How can you build trust with potential customers when they are taking the steps to research and explore potential solutions?

Jason Zickerman, President and CEO, The Alternative Board, shared some examples of sales material that potential buyers would trust:
  • Providing customer testimonials along with any sales materials — materials that include the customers’ name and business (not just “one customer said ... ”)

  • Investing in third-party evaluations of your product or service — compared to other options — that conclude that your product is superior

  • Developing a catalog of customer references that prospective clients can contact

  • Providing a trial version of the product or service so that the customer can experience the value themselves

  • Creating thoughtful case studies of customers that have used your company’s product or service. This should include not only how the product or service was used, but also the bottom-line impact it had on the business.

Need help creating impactful case studies? Here are a few out-of-the-box ideas:

… and late in the funnel

Building a relationship on trust shouldn’t end when the prospect becomes a lead. When a business development rep or a sales team member gets on the phone with potential customers for lead qualification or sales discussions, you must continue to focus on solving their problems.

Instead of following Alec Baldwin’s advice in "Glengarry Glen Ross" to “always be closing,” perhaps your inside sales team should follow the advice of Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne and “always be useful.”

In their book, Never Be Closing: How to sell better without screwing your clients, your colleagues, or yourself they teach that “the most successful selling comes from a sincere interest in your clients and their needs.”

I spoke with our own Kevin Soisson, Manager of Strategic Partnerships, MECLABS, about the data in this chart and how to meet sales objectives without being “too sales-oriented.” He is on the phone every day with marketers to help them determine if a MarketingSherpa Email Summit sponsorship will fit their needs.

Soisson has an interesting background, with 12 years of coaching executives how to be better golfers and teaching students through the Dale Carnegie Sales Course. The same executives who are learning to improve their slice on the weekend are looking at your B2B solutions during the week and deciding whether to buy — or not.

“When I started working with a golfer who wanted to improve his slice, I never started with the technical details. First, I had to understand his mindset,” he said. “For example, perhaps they’re slicing because they think they have to hit the ball very hard. Technical help won’t do anything until we change the mindset to moving the body so the golf club moves fast, not hitting the ball hard.”

Soisson translates that same teaching style to the world of B2B sales.

“It’s never about the solution I have to offer. It’s always about what the person on the other end of the line is trying to achieve and what is stopping them from meeting those goals. I need to differentiate getting across what is important to me and understanding what is stopping them. Once that is determined, I simply explain our sponsorships,” Soisson said.

“And if it is a fit, I’m not selling [to] them. I’m speaking their language, not mine, and it is just a conversation. They will ultimately make the decision for themselves.”


The Alternative Board

Related Resources

MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2015 — February 23-26, 2015 at the ARIA Resort & Casino Las Vegas

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