Buyers in B2B markets – and especially in technology – come to the table armed with intelligent questions that they want you to answer. If you can’t, or you try to give them marketing materials designed for some canned persona which they don’t fit, they will quickly move on.
The idea of persona development isn’t new for most marketers. However, just like any other group of people, our customers’ personalities mature, preferences change, and well, sometimes they just grow up. It’s up to us as marketers to determine who is in our market in order to guide their self-education and lead them into the waiting arms of our sales teams.
Dusting off our whiteboards and drilling deeper to keep our personas fresh (and correct) should be part of every marketing team’s recurring strategies.
Reason #1: Buyers expect you to know what they want, and modern technology enables you to do so
There is a lot of talk around what a B2B marketing tech stack should look like. It usually comes down to cost, your company’s individual goals and what is realistic to maintain and execute on properly. That being said, the marketing technology industry is growing. In fact, recent studies have shown that the annual tech spend is surpassing ad buys.
So how can new technology help you get to know your customers? There are the solid go-to’s that many marketers employ: CRM, marketing automation, Google Analytics, etc. However, there are some very exciting technologies newer to the market that can help marketers up level their efforts.
At Yeager, we are excited to see where the evolution of predictive marketing takes the industry in the next few years. Companies like EverString and Mintigo are empowering marketers with data science to make smarter marketing decisions. To put it simply, predictive can help you fill in missing gaps in your data to create more effective, highly personalized communications – all based on predicting the customer’s behavior. In fact, a recent Forrester and EverString study shows that predictive marketers are 2.9 times more likely than retrospective marketers to have higher revenue growth than the industry average.
While you don’t have to invest in every technology under the sun to get to know your customer, it’s important to know how technology can help you go deeper. Make sure you are aware of what is available now to help your customer relationships become more meaningful.
Reason #2: Modern buyers don’t like to be sold to – unless they’re already looking for your solution
The modern B2B buyer already has an average of 57% of the information they need before they even engage with your sales team. They don’t want a sales pitch, and they don’t want to hear about everything you sell—they want to hear about what you can do to solve their problems.
So, the next logical question is, “Do you know what their biggest problems are?” Or better yet, “Do you know if they are still having the same problems as they once were?”
Most of the time, when a buyer contacts your sales team, they want to know three things:
- How much will your solution cost me now?
- How will it save my company both time and money in the future?
- And what makes you different from your competitors?
It used to be enough to simply craft a set of buyer personas that describe prospects in terms of demographics and characteristics. Today’s B2B buyer isn’t so easily categorized.
Hooking the B2B buyer requires you to re-frame your personas around the problems you aim to solve for the people who are already interested in your type of solution, rather than simply identifying the people that need the solution itself. From there, you’ll be able to anticipate their hard questions, and add value to the sales discussion in terms of differentiation and deep value-add to complete the sales journey and close deals.
Reason #3: Company alignment with the buyer is critical to your success
When marketing brings data to the table there is an alignment that results between marketing and two other critical groups in the company—sales and product development. Many times, communication breakdowns between these groups lead to inefficiency and sometimes can even have disastrous consequences where there is a lack of centering on exactly what customers want to buy and who the buyer is.
The good news and bad news? This effort needs to be driven by marketing.
As marketers, you are responsible for gathering, analyzing and understanding metrics, measuring against key performance indicators, and continually honing your personas and messaging around the problems that your solutions can solve. That information needs to be delivered with regularity to your product development team so that they’re producing solutions that deliver on your promises to the market. And your sales team needs to have a deep understanding of both your solutions and your buyers in order to bridge the two for the highest level of success.
Your customers will know that they can come to you for answers to their challenges, and that they won’t be hit with a canned sales pitch.
At the end of the day, it’s not just your product or solution that matters, but knowing who needs that product or solution that will be your ticket to success. When you focus on the right buyers through analytics, analysis and alignment, you create deeper customer relationships and the reputation of a trusted brand that delivers on promises and drives real value for customers.