There are two important facts that every B2B technology sales and marketing organization needs to embrace:
- Buyer preparedness – Whether you subscribe the some of the numbers on “percent of buying process complete before contacting sales” or not, what is definitely the case is that it is rarely ZERO (0%). Buyers are more prepared than ever before (that does not mean they don’t need help or aren’t uncertain), but they’ve done their homework.
- 68% of their buying process is conducted by reviewing information from or interacting with parties other than the vendors they are considering.
The first reaction to this information is often a level of panic—how do we, as providers, adapt? How do we learn what buyers are doing? How do we change.
In my mind, the first step is easy. Use the same techniques that buyers are using. Accept the responsibility.
It is not difficult to be prepared. At a minimum, simple Web searches and research using social networking tools can help you uncover loads of relevant information on the companies you are selling to and the people within them. This does not take a lot of expertise. It just takes a little time.
But many don’t do this. They look at social networks as a tool to connect faster and easier. They get lists and send cold e-mails that are not personalized or relevant–or they fake personalization. Some of them get featured in my LinkedIn series #FridayFails. And there really is no excuse. Being prepared is not that hard.
Organizations that want to make preparation part of their culture can make it even easier. There are plenty of tools that provide rich information about companies and individuals. They can do the initial hunting work for you. Some focus on updated firmographics and contact information. Others go deeper and broader to help uncover other insights based on a broader range of sources. Regardless of the service (or services) you choose, you still have to filter that and determine how to use it, but some of the research steps are done for you (with varying degrees of analysis depending on the product/service). The information is there, ready for you to understand, interpret, and apply to being more prepared.
Social Listening tools can also help you monitor social conversations. Most enterprises focus on conversations about themselves. Consider listening to conversations about your key target customers and market trends.
But the main point is this. Rather than agonize over where buyers are in their process, do something about it.
- Get focused.
- Use segmentation to prioritize markets and specific company targets.
- Do the research on those targets
- Connect with Context.
I’d love to see a future statistic that says “Sales teams are 70% more prepared to engage effectively with customers now than they where 2 years ago.” That is a 70% number that would have a huge impact. And, your customers would love it to.
Turn the tables, be more prepared than your customers. They’ll appreciate it too (probably more than you can imagine).
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