Author: Bret Rachlin, Chief Revenue Officer @KPITarget
With answers a Google search away and YouTube tutorials that teach any skill on demand, more and more people believe themselves to be experts at every and any subject. Although true expertise takes years of study, many a cocktail party is now graced with a grandstander who happens to be an expert in seemingly every topic that comes up. Annoying as this know-it-all may be, knowledge is available at our fingertips, and everyone is an expert at a little bit of everything these days. To successfully nurture leads and close B2B sales, whether in sales or in marketing, it’s necessary to find ways to stay ahead. How do you pursue a lead when target buyers seem to know more about your solution than you and your team? How can you expect to win their business when they’re the experts?
There are two things to consider when engaging with expert buyers. Obviously, you must be able to demonstrate expertise with the specifics of your solution, and how it helps your buyers overcome a problem and take them to their desired outcome. However, it’s also critical to understand that your buyer’s world is greater than simply what your solution entails. Their overall world requires your attention, and achieving a level of expertise here will increase your attractiveness to buyers, as well as differentiate you from competition.
Knowledge of your own solution only gets you so far with buyers, and is insufficient in helping overcome buyer inertia. Without understanding where your solution fits within the buyer’s greater world, it’s difficult to earn their trust and sell successfully.
How can you better understand your buyer’s world and where your solution fits within it? Here are three recommendations:
Conduct interviews with your target buyers to learn how they buy solutions like yours. These interviews should go beyond simple buyer personas to uncover the process they go through. Ask them open-ended questions to entice them to describe what, how and why they do specific things during the buying process. Through these interviews, buyers will provide you a view into their worlds. Not only will you hear stories specific to your solution, but also you’ll learn how your buyers work on a daily basis, including what’s going well for them in their roles and what’s not.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Shadowing a buyer for a day will give you an opportunity to learn specifically how your target buyers spend their days. First, how will you manage to get a buyer to agree to this? Perhaps you have customers that have agreed to do case studies. Travel to that buyer’s office to conduct the case study interview in person, and ask if you can observe how they work to amplify their story. Work closely with sales to set this up, and it’s likely you’ll have multiple buyers accept. Be sure to highlight the value they’ll receive from doing the case study, and offer early access to future product updates. Focusing on what they gain from your research will endear them to you.
Once onsite pay particular attention to how much time they spend working in or on your offering vs. all of the other work they’re doing. This will provide you insight into where your solution falls on their priority list. Additionally, note how easy or hard it is for them to use your solution. Does it fit well into their general workflow? Moreover, you’ll understand what a typical day is like for your buyers, and can incorporate what you’ve learned into future communications with buyers, giving you the opportunity to show empathy
While you likely have case studies available to share with prospects, do you have any that truly reflect the buyer type you’re targeting? Buyers want to buy solutions that they are confident will work for them. By showing examples of buyers like themselves who have demonstrated success with your solution, including how they fit your solution into their greater world, you will go a long way to easing your buyer’s concerns.
Imagine that you’re targeting small business owners with a marketing automation solution. Small business owners wear many hats and have limited time to spend on marketing activities, and are very different than target buyers who are marketing-specific and live in a marketing world.
During buyer interviews, you’ll likely uncover that having an easy to use solution is more important than a more complex one with too many features. Additionally, observing them over the course of a day would likely reveal how little time they spend on marketing, and how often they’re interrupted when they attempt to focus on marketing. Lastly, they’ll enjoy hearing stories about how other small business owners not only use your marketing automation solution effectively, but also, and likely more importantly, how they incorporate their marketing activities among their numerous other responsibilities, and specifically how your marketing automation solution enables them to do that easily.
Overall, your target buyers know more about their own world than you do, and some of them may even be experts about your solution, too. If you can become an expert about your buyer’s world, specifically how your solution fits into their world, then it will be easier to communicate and resonate with your target buyers.
Having a conversation with a buyer about how your product fits into their world will yield much better results than one where you’re simply focused on how your solution works. Buyers appreciate you much more when they can feel empathy through your communications, leading to more successful selling.
For more information about how to learn more about your buyer’s world, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.