Tuesday, August 9, 2016

How To Toughing Your Service B2B Marketing or Die Trying



The Stress Causing Reality of B2B

There’s a lot of stress facing many service businesses. . .just trying desperately: to create a desirable service, to create awareness, to then sell it for a profit, and finally deliver a great experience is very demanding. In the past, you practically had forever to get it right because barrier to entry was huge.

Today, the formula for achieving continuous success in a competitive world is a minute-by-minute ongoing experiment. One day you could be celebrating the huge site traffic and record sales from your campaign and the next day your campaign has lost its momentum and consumers have moved on to other things. What I’m trying to say is your s%#^ is not the s#^&. If there’s not much differentiation and significant value in what you offer then your services are gradually being turned into commodities.

There are at least three choices in this reality. You can accept things, change things, or walk away from it. This content will help you see the b2b buyers perspective, your perspective, and some suggestions to consider.

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE B2B BUYER IN 2016



The b2b buyers behavior and environment has changed. There’s more A Class competitors. There’s more disruption, shifted expectation, more stakeholders voices, more diversity, overwhelming content, independent research, hesitation, peer support and influence, over bombardment via email, endless mobile ads, unknown callers or email are avoided, need their trust before they reveal their true needs or pain, fear not negotiating favorably, fear poor account management, loyalty is not a major factor, value personal connection, shopping around, comparing, uncertain of budget cycle, economic uncertainty, terrorism, weather, social uncertainty, new competition, use the "I'm busy" claim sporadically.





THIS ALSO IMPACTS WHETHER THEY DO BUSINESS WITH YOU

Not connecting at events, poor touch-points experience, no team cohesiveness, uninformed about industry or business, no mechanism to execute in real time, not having a fast turnaround from meeting to delivery to support, not being agile, not developing a great experience or failing to optimize, lacking engagement, re-engagement, failing to manage negative tones, unclear ad copy, abusing email mailbox, surprise charges, confusing invoices, credibility issues, questionable company image,  etc


THROUGH THE EYES OF THE B2B SERVICE

While many service businesses today face challenges from all sides at a pace that’s overwhelming. The intensity of the challenges keeps increasing for example in area like new business development, quality of leads, staying current on marketing technology and trends, return on investment, etc.

A recent report from SalesForce called “2015_state_of_marketing” caught my attention.  According to SalesForce, it surveyed thousands of marketers in fall of 2014 and produced an overview of marketing.They started by asking marketer to select their serious business challenge and then rank their list.

(Graph Image)


“With so many technologies demanding substantial time and effort, marketers must evaluate which tools will be most effective for their unique business goals. The chart below shows a long list of potential channels and strategies to invest in and the percentage of marketers who currently use them. It also shows average ratings of that channel or strategy’s effectiveness and whether marketers who aren’t using it plan to do so in the next 12 months.“
- - -SalesForce  report called 2015_state_of_marketing”


(Graph Image)

LET’S GO INTO MORE DETAIL OF B2B WORLD

Any b2b marketer or manager is going to be dragged to step up their game 24/7 or might end up as someone’s dinner. That statement was inspired by an observation I made watching nature channels. I saw the nature of hippos, owls,...saw a jaguar kill an alligator. I even saw a chimp hunt down another much smaller monkey species and rip it apart like chicken. It’s really a game of fierce survival.

That’s the new reality for businesses and individuals. And if you believe all what your b2b service business has to do is: keep improving, out-innovating, outwitting, out-smart, out work or out-hire, I’m sorry change is always coming faster then you can say Donald. . B2B buyers are not waiting for your business to get it together..

The Best Buyers Care About Their Image

Image and first impressions truly can make or break your business and who ever you are seen doing business with can attract more opportunities to you. At least based on my observations. Great b2b buyers will go through great lengths to be associated with the best strategic partners, the best suppliers, the best advisors because the alliance only reinforces their position in the market place. And chances are they will save money by getting the right relationship the first time.

Like Nike partnering with Tiger Woods. Apple with Jaime Fox. Katie Perry with Cover Girl. Like Hussein Bolt partnering with Puma. So as a b2b service provider your overall image, personality, actions, work ethics, values, standards, character can influence decision makers.

More Ignoring of Prospecting Methods

Remember the yellow pages? Remember when all you had to do was wait for business to come to you. My dear b2b service providers, whatever prospecting method you use to attract prospects  be prepared to face a ever louder and an attention seeking direct and indirect competitors.

Your competitors will do mobile marketing, content marketing, gorilla marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, copy-the-leader marketing etc. They are going to do whatever it takes. Though that might be very concerning, the truth is, your buyers are going to ignore most of it. Why?

You can blast people your promotions daily, every hour of the day but you can’t make the horse drink. Plus, they will block your ass with number blockers, ad blockers, Facebook / LinkedIn user blocker / email blocker / face-face blocker

The Effort Required To Explore Needs

Trying to buy shoes for work doesn’t require a PhD in manufacturing, but trying to sell someone car insurance requires exploring their needs. Since more and more, b2b buyers seems to have the power you really have to pull teeth just to get to the real heart of the cause of their problems. Customers might say we need a new CRM system when really what they need is better training on using their current systems. They might withhold information because you haven’t earned their trust.

This come back to everyone wanting to feel you’ve just provided a customized solution just for them. They want to know when sharing their internal processes and tactics you will be a part of the solution and not be a embarrassing regret.

And sometimes prospects don’t reveal enough for you to adapt your value proposition.

The Overwhelming Information Hurts Their Heads

The b2b buyer is more educated about your solutions and alternative options than you. All thanks to Google the search engine. Researching everything till they believe they will not be fooled or taking advantage of before engaging your organization. However many might become lost, confused, overwhelmed, indecisive to the point of frustration.

Sure you can easily provide invaluable insights and resources to help them however it doesn’t mean they will chose you. B2B service buyers expect someone to understand their pain, their industry, to be able to diagnose their problems or recommend someone who will. When you have their best interest in mind you will be invited to help them clarify and sort out the information.

The Doubter or The Doubter Among Stakeholders

On your journey to sell your services and attract quality prospects you will find out quickly whether someone trust you, your organization, or your offer. You could even find out if you were just a practice-on so they are prepare for the better organization. Sometimes it will the decision maker and sometimes it’s the influences pulling the strings of doubt.

In most cases people have had their fair share of sales people promising heaven just to make the sale while the customer deals with the consequence of their bad decision. The best way is to rid yourself, your thoughts, your organization, your services of anything that’s not truthful. Most people would appreciate you being upfront with them about expectation and challenges than sugarcoating everything. When doubt persist it can impact closing.

The Well Connected and Her Discussion Boards

People are more connected to experts, peers, and others then ever before. A few years ago just to find a business contact in India required, finding someone to introduce, traveling, then meet. Today you can talk to potential business contacts in you underpants. Now, 2016, a lot of B2B buyers and consumers are selective who engages them.

They reach and socialize with contacts who are trustworthy to help them make a wise decision. They weigh word-of-mouth, online reviews, company information carefully. Buyers just can’t afford to get it wrong so a way to make this more favorable to you is to engage the powerful influences (people and organizations), the average influences, get testimonials, if people critic or share feedback have someone professionally respond to it. However do your homework so that you don’t waste each others time. This is just the new reality.

They Want To Minimize Risk

B2B buyers in this world don’t operate with the goal of wasting money unless there are just fiscally undisciplined. So the reality is every time someone wants to buy something, they are hoping to hear, see signs that reduces their perception of risk and that if you believe enough in your product you should take some of that risk. Such as offering a thirty day trial, no contract, no cancellation fees, confidential, anonymity, 24/7 support, discount, credible testimonials, etc,  However there are some situation where you want to share the risk load such as when your compensation is tied to a milestone.

Are B2B Buyers Using Ad-Blockers

Anyone who uses Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to generate leads or traffic through advertising needs to be concerned. And if advertising is your revenue source then you should also be concern. I’m sure b2b buyers as consumers are probably using it. If you are not familia with AD-Blockers, it simply a software that blocks ads on most websites. How it works technically, I'm not sure.

I have included this as something that might challenge b2b sellers ability to reach b2b decision makers.

They Occasionally Adopt Strategy or Purchase Cues From Competitors


Sometimes we all become imitators because we get tired of innovating. Google started the self-driving car craze now every car manufacturer is aggressively bringing their own version to market. That’s also true for b2b buyers. It goes like this, company A just announced that they signed a five year contract with a software company to improve their logistics. Company B, without considering it’s own DNA or strategy decides to buy the same software. So be aware of buyers who simply want what the competitor has.

In this case be a source to try to understand their situation and business DNA to advice them what your solution can not do for them. Imitating to the bone is like trying to fit a square into a circle.  Everyone is built slightly different and what really works for company A might workout pretty modest for company B.

Negotiation & Closing


This part is the exciting and treacherous part of business. If you are not aware of your break even points or your other elements such as cost, keeping talent, making a profit, time, emergencies, etc then this can be messy. More & more companies are adopting agile production, agile workforce, on demand supply, agile marketing, so b2b sellers might want to know something about the business plans and cycles.

If their buyers scale in the summer and cut back in January then you might pick when to be asserive and when to send some invaluable resource. In any situation don’t be a commodity unless you want to keep negotiating on price and not value. And having to deal with more stakeholders can also delay closing and timing of completion.

People & Human Nature Doesn’t Change

In a hyper-competitive and ever changing world, loyalty is becoming rare. Some people will stick with you long enough until a better offer comes along. If you think your wealth management business is the best in the world…guess what, there’s likely another firm with the same claim.  Every news network claims to be the number one but when you watch them you see no difference. So your potential buyers are always being courted by your direct competitors and your indirect ones. However there are some who stay loyal to your business till the very end.

Buyers all have busy schedules and sometimes claim they’re too busy so you don’t waste their time. Mail boxes are full, voice mails full, messages in messaging apps ignored, lunch break, vacation, budget meetings, family emergencies, sleep, eat, get laid, and wash the car, attend events, blocking telemarketers, etc.

It becomes critical to find creative ways to capture their attention. One way is to show relevant value so buyers don’t put you in the annoyance pile or worst case “the blocked list”.


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What You Might Also Like To Consider

TRUST

Earning trust or becoming a trusted adviser to buyers and their stakeholder will take time. This is how the great people and businesses stay profitable . They conduct their actions not with a quick buck mentality but for long term mentality. ten million dollars in profit in three years is better than a hundred thousand in one month and a being known as a duper for the rest of your existence.

BACK IT UP

If you make a bold claim about what your solution will do. this or that, then make sure it does. Being able to assess the situation like deciding whether a person with a broken leg needs a cast or a wheelchair is crucial. What I’m saying is provide a solution that best fits their needs or their wants.

ADD VALUE

No business sets out to be worst off after they adopted your SaaS solution. Everyone wants services and products that make them better.And that the value you add to their business is based on their best interest. Let buyers know of industry trends, an event to attend, a person to meet, a book to read, etc Just keep creating and adding value.

RUN THE RIGHT EVENT

Events have grown in popularity as a way to create awareness as well as generate warm leads which gets converted faster to sales. For especially busy people , events are a great way to meet lots of other decision makers face-face. Events are perfect. People are in a relaxed mood, exploratory mood, there’s not much rescheduling with events unlike appointments.

However there are many more events competing for people’s time so do everything you can to be the event your target wants to attend and be seen. Present an invaluable experience and people will warm up to your email messages, when you followup with people who express genuine and evident of need and fit (you’ve qualified them before you spend your time and money barking at the wrong tree)

And plus, events are a lot like advertising because people who attend the event tell their friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, and everyone in their connections. A win-win-win.

SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THEIR EYES

Every marketing, customer service and sales must begin from the customer’s point of view and not from your own eyes. One common mistake is when b2b marketers make tactical and strategic decision on assumptions.

Marketers who see the world through their consumers eyes, I’m sure deliver better messages, content, perform better, develop adoptable new products. As I wrote this, an Apple advertisement came on just reminding me and millions how to sell products. By selling the value it brings to the lives of the consumers.

So what I’m saying is making it a priority to put in place ways to learn what truly matters to your consumers and what doesn’t. Learn to oberved them without being creepy, survey them, listen, engage them, hangout with them,

A STRONG TEAM MAKE A GREAT TEAM

B2B marketing success no longer works with a single department. It works by working in a team. Eliminating barriers that limit your teams ability to work together and achieve is crucial.

Something that teams need to also keep in mind is that human nature hasn’t changed very much however how we fulfill our human needs keeps changing with technology. There was a time calling someone on the phone was a popular activity…a time when we had family phone plans for our landlines now we communicate more and more by email and text messages. Rather than call to talk to someone some people result to sending very lengthy essays.

Teams need to learn faster, adapter faster, apply faster, test faster, recharge faster, do things faster but always making time to slow things down.

Don’t be afraid to work with trusted outsiders to help see what you might be avoiding to see.

BOOST YOUR SOCIAL IQ

How to engage with your buyers on social networks is very helpful in attracting more business an opportunities. This is where social selling becomes crucial. No one goes to networking events to hear your sales pitch or get random business card. It’s about making genuine interaction, relevant engagement through sharing, liking, listening, being helpful, commenting, and connecting not for a quick sale. Or to use someone to get close to someone else.

Social selling is all about engagement. But bare in mind that social networks should not be treated like a new platform on which to spam. Your interactions should be thoughtful, relevant, and personalized. Work with group managers and moderators rather than posting something that conflicts with the purpose of the community.

A tip is never try to connect with someone on social networks without giving them a chance to know who you are, what your thoughts are on subject matters that you share, in person, doing  business, once you’ve warm up then you might increase your chance of them accepting your invite.

Always use a personalized invite because generic only sends the impression that you are not serious.  

IMPROVE YOUR TOUCH POINTS

You might only get one chance to make an impression and then get someone to give you money. Finding someone or group of talented and capable people to handle your touch points. Maybe your fonts, images, colors, word choices, website, social media page are impacting people’s decision?

That’s why analyses of every clicks on a daily or weekly basis helps, distinguish urls, video data, weak-spots in your overall operation, look into re targeting your ads so you can follow the prospects however advertising is not as influential as it once was. People will see it but their minds might not register it.

Keep improving your ad copy to make sure it is aligned to your objectives
Doing so gives you with a competitive edge over those who rely on random optimization to respond to urgent seasonal changes. It’s better to have a clear framework in place instead of planning and implementing strategies at the eleventh hour.

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