We all know that today’s digitally empowered buyers are in control of the sales cycle. Which is why it’s so important to have conversations that are personal and engaging. That’s how you begin to create a long term relationship. By talking about what’s interesting to the buyer.
Personas and profiles are all the rage in content marketing and more. We spend significant effort to define the personas of our buyers – grouping and categorizing based on title, area of responsibility, role in the buying cycle and such.
Yet somehow I don’t see those personas as the path to personal conversations when it comes to B2B marketing and sales. Don’t get me wrong – I think personas are a first great step in getting to know our buyers. They simply don’t get us up close and personal.
Why don’t I think personas go far enough?
We focus on the quantitative facts when we create personas. That’s totally understandable. After all – the IT executives have different problems they face than the Network Manager. Unfortunately – our buyers do not solely live for the “important” facts we apply to them. Our buyers bring their own perspectives and beliefs, formed over years of experiences that have programmed their thinking and behaviors. Their beliefs have as much to do, if not more, with driving the buyer’s behaviors. Often much more than the facts.
We still go for the masses when we market to our diverse personas. Once again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Many of us sell to volumes of customers. We need to converse with the masses to get the volume of sales we need. My point is this. We have a better chance of winning the business when we get more personal with our buyers. That’s where I think we fall short.
We approach our buyers as groups within a buying cycle. That’s a big mistake in my opinion. You see, buyer behaviors within the buying cycle have changed dramatically in the past 5 years. Our buyers no longer need us as their source of information They do 79% of their buying preparation without us involved. They move thru the cycle without us and they move at their own pace. Then, they invite us to their party when they decide to converse about what’s relevant to them. By the time they invite us, they want us to get personal. Even as we’re most likely still trying to force them into our buying cycle and processes.
Not very personal.
Many of my associates argue that we can’t get any more personal given the volume of prospects big businesses much manage through a selling cycle. I think that’s a status quo belief. I think we can do better.
Just as our buyer’s are digitally empowered by the internet and social media, so are we! The challenge is, we keep thinking about marketing as if it were yesterday ‘s news. We view social media and the internet as a better way to do direct mail and demand generation.
Our buyers shifted their buying behaviors. It’s time we shifted our thinking and behaviors too.
Here are three ideas on how to shift your marketing thinking to get personal with your buyers.
Empower Conversations. Social media empowers marketers to converse mano et mano with our buyers. So why aren’t we? The top excuse is that our marketing people aren’t capable of having a conversation. Then train them! Training budgets for marketing and sales have declined over the past five years, even as automation and technology budgets have skyrocketed. What’s wrong with that picture in a market that’s moving to interactive, personal conversations and engagement? Technology cannot have a personally relevant conversation. Just sayin’.
We are delivering more content to more prospects across more channels. The problem? We’re doing it in the way we’ve always done it. The result? Our prospects are sick of being spammed with Me Me Me marketing. We continue to tell the buyer what we want them to hear. Whether they want to hear it or not. No wonder they move on, wouldn’t you? Don’t you???
In my opinion, we can’t afford NOT to train our people and engage in personal conversations that engage our buyers. In the next few years I believe buyers will demand personal conversations – the vendors who get personal and focused on what is relevant to specific buyers will be the winners in the market.
Build Community. I believe that communities are one of the best ways to get up close and personal with your buyers. They are also one of the most underutilized aspects of our digital world. Oh sure, there are huge communities on Facebook, Tweetchats and more. That’s not what I mean.
I’m talking about a real community – where your buyers, prospects and employees engage continuously in discussions that are relevant to your audience. Mano et Mano. Imagine a community where your customers are sharing their experiences, how they solved a problem and more with a prospect – and then the prospect shares that information with another and another. A community where an employee offers advice to a community member – then watches that member pass along that expertise to ten other community members. Now THAT’S viral. There are so many ways to build communities that empower personal and relevant discussions. But we can’t do that if we guide the community based on our beliefs. We have to let the community get personal!
Dive Deeper. Do you really believe that all CMOs in each industry are facing the same challenges? I doubt it. Every business is unique. Treat them that way and dive into their unique issues. That’s how you have personal conversations that fuel long-term revenue relationships.
Marketing has to move farther into the sales cycle if we are going to compel the prospect to give our sales rep a date. Remember, buyers invite us to the party now. We no longer capture them.
Modern technology gives us the chance to chat with individuals, to learn personal aspects of each buyer that impact their buying decisions. Great sales reps have known this for years; get to know the details about your buyer. It’s time marketing did the same.
Getting personal isn’t easy. I know that. But just because it’s harder, because we have to completely shift our thinking to get there doesn’t mean we can’t do it.
If we want to engage and connect with our audiences, we must have relevant, personal conversations. From our first contact.
How are you getting more personal? I’d love to hear your stories!!!
Thanks to the digital age, today’s buyers can research, select and purchase their products without getting you involved in the decision. You won’t even know they were buying. Everything shifted. Your choices: shift, too—or get left in the past.
Me, Me, Me and other traditional approaches to marketing simply do not work in today’s world. If you want to market successfully, you must shift your processes and messaging. Away from what you want to say and toward what your buyers want and need.
In this ebook from Change This, you’ll learn how to easily adapt your marketing thinking to master today’s digitally empowered buyers to drive long term revenue relationships.
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