The Marketing Strategist:
Research Highlight: Marketing Doesn't Know What Buyers Want
Every organization is full of disconnects, but the one that matters most is between the organization and its customers. That’s marketing’s job: to know the customer and to make sure that everyone else in the organization does too. Which is why it’s surprising that marketers are helping salespeople do the wrong things for customers. Not things that are going to alienate buyers, necessarily – more like things that aren’t high their highest priorities. In ITSMA’s recent How Buyers Consume Information study, we asked buyers the following question: “What kinds of information and/or support do you expect from a solution provider’s sales reps during the purchase process?” Then we compared the answers to what marketers said when we asked them the same question in the Thought Leadership Selling survey earlier in 2013. The results were instructive—and shocking. Just the Facts The number one thing buyers want from sales is simple facts about the solution they’re considering. What does it do? How will it help me? That’s what buyers want most—but marketers rank “product or service information” ninth out of nine priorities for salespeople. Perhaps the discrepancy arises because product or service information is generic, obvious, and available on the website. But there’s a difference between reading something and hearing about it from a salesperson. A good sales professional can help the buyer understand how the solution solves a particular business problem. Buyers want it. Sales needs to deliver it. And marketers can help them have that conversation. The Backstage Pass The number two thing buyers seek from sales is a visit with your company’s rock stars—the subject matter experts (SMEs). Marketers rank “put buyer in touch with SMEs” far down the list at number seven. The reason for the discrepancy isn’t clear. Yet access to SMEs is critical to buyers, and enabling those channels should be a key job for marketing. Be My Compass Help navigating alternative solutions is ranked third by buyers, but it’s down at number eight among marketers. Choosing a course of action that satisfies all stakeholders at an acceptable cost can be overwhelming. Buyers want help from sales, and they want it more than they want to learn about technology trends, more than they want their thinking to be challenged, and more than they want help in building the business case. When it comes to what salespeople should be doing, marketers’ priorities should be identical to buyers’. The disconnect between the two highlights the importance of using buyer research rather than relying on received wisdom. For every buyer who wants a “challenger sale,” there are many more who just want facts, experts, and guidance.
What do you think buyers want, and how are you helping sales deliver it? Tell me your thoughts.