Many of my most recent posts have reflected some of the findings from our regular survey into the buying process, and key influences, for enterprise technology. This year, we also surveyed tech providers to see what they thought worked and mattered most to the enterprises they target. We’ll be sharing more and more details about those results in upcoming research. But I did want to highlight one area in particular that caught my eye.
We asked both groups what were the most likely causes for a vendor to be disqualified from consideration for a technology purchase. They were given choices like lack of differentiation, low quality sales presentation, influencer and analyst opinions, and more. For the most part, their responses were pretty aligned; for example, 30% of respondents to both surveys said a low quality sales presentation might cause disqualification.
But there were some areas that were not aligned. The top two choices (at 37% and 36% respectively) that caused buyers to disqualify a vendor were:
- Peer Reviews and Opinions
- Marketing Materials that are Confusing or Contradictory
But the tech providers ranked these near the low end of their choices (at 25% and 23% respectively). That is a big disconnect. The other notable disconnect regarded “Prices are non in line with expectations”. Providers felt this caused disqualification 51% of the time, while buyers rated this third in their list at 35%. This seems to imply that buyers either feel they can negotiate prices down.
But the first two are notable and an area where tech providers must focus. Word of Mouth has always mattered, but clearly it is growing in importance and impact with the rise of social networks and review sites, like Gartner Peer insights. Tech Providers can’t just take this for granted. They must create programs to encourage, cultivate, and “industrialize” word of mouth marketing.
That is straightforward. It just takes resources and customer focus.
The other area is harder. For way to long, providers have allowed messages to get out of line. The Web site is always “out of date, but on our list to fix.” Sales teams create different materials from marketing, feeling “they are not in touch with our market.” When a new message is not immediately embraced by buyers, it is cast aside to try something else. The result is buyers often hear different stories everywhere they turn. This is frustrating, confusing, and erodes trust.
It also can get you kicked out of a consideration set. Tech Providers must put an increased focus on consistency and clarity in their communications. Done well, you’ll stand out in a positive way.
We talk all the time about aligning marketing and sales, or marketing and development, or sales and development. It may be time focus more on customer alignment.
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