In 2012, International Data Corp. conducted its “Buyer Experience Study,” in which the research firm polled nearly 200 BtoB technology buyers on the reasons why they buy. The survey asked respondents to rate how various information sources influence their technology purchase decisions. If the responses were to be summed up in a few words, they’d simply state that, “buyers need love too.”
Reach out and touch
Despite cuts in travel budgets and fewer mega industry conferences, respondents still prefer personal connections over technology touch points. In fact, respondents ranked in-person events, like trade shows and conferences, as the number one “influencer” in their buying decisions.
With this as a backdrop, it’s not surprising interactions with sales people and digital events, such as webinars and virtual trade shows, also ranked higher than less personal interactions such as social marketing and email.
By no means does this data indicate that online, traditional and social marketing are ineffective channels for reaching BtoB technology buyers. However, the findings do point to the importance of real, personal and ongoing engagement with prospects and customers.
While “closing the deal” is always the primary goal of any sales function, today’s marketers need to take a different approach to accomplishing this. Rather than focusing on one-off communications, today’s successful marketers are taking a buyer-centric approach that reaches prospects and customers early and often. This methodology helps organizations enhance the prospect/customer experience and, in turn, build long-term relationships that deliver more value and generate more revenue.
Time for “warm” calls
For many, the Stop Selling. Start Listening. method of reaching buyers is an extension of current marketing efforts, especially at organizations that strive to reach prospects and buyers with relevant and personalized messages throughout the buying cycle.
Other organizations may be surprised that this seemingly long-term approach actually simplifies the selling process by removing “impractical” prospects from the pipeline and making the conversations with potential buyers more meaningful. This virtually eliminates the cold call concept from sales efforts and makes the communication between organizations and their buyers easier and more worthwhile for both.