Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) recently conducted some industry research of business and technology decision makers involved in tech purchases across a variety of industries, and discovered what they call the “New Buyer Paradox.” And while it was focused on technology solutions, I think the findings are applicable to a range of B2B products and services. Take a look at a few of the contradictions:
- Buyers act like their first priority is cost cutting, yet they’ve also earmarked growing revenues and improving productivity in their list of top 3 priorities.
- Buyers don’t want to engage with sales until they’re ready, but insist that strong relationships with vendors are important factors in a purchase decision.
- Buyers admit they’re short on time but want relevant content — lots of it. Only they’re picky about how they want to access and consume it.
- Buyers want unique, customized solutions, but they want proof you’ve done it before.
- Buyers want thought leadership and visionary ideas, but they want realistic solutions.
If you are a software or technology solution marketer or sales professional, here are some ways to leverage this buyer behavior in your sales enablement and content marketing efforts:
Market Yourself as a Thought Leader
Thought leadership is important to buyers. In fact, 58% of the ITSMA survey respondents reported that thought leadership is critical or important in determining which providers make it to their short list. Producing meaningful content and sharing it during discussions on relevant online forums not only makes you visible to your target markets and helps you influence their opinions, but also gives you insights into what your prospect’s peers are saying.
Participate in Social Media
Increasingly, tech buyers are using social media in their research stages and are using it as a way to connect with thought leaders and vendors in meaningful conversations. 71% of tech buyers in the ITSMA survey indicated they are following discussions and conversation threads to learn more about a topic on social networking sites and forums. Furthermore, 66% said they are using social media to set up private conversations. It seems that for technology solution providers, having a sales enablement technology platform that integrates with these social mediums is a requirement.
Align Content and Engagement with their BUY Cycle, not your SALES Cycle
These days, companies that understand their customer get ahead. Thus walking in your prospect’s shoes can be very beneficial to improving your marketing and sales effectiveness. The key is getting prospects the right content at the right stage in their buy cycle. Buyers think differently at each stage of the process and so the information they receive at each stage needs to change too. Sales enablement technologies that allow you to track prospect engagement with materials you send them along the way can make a huge difference in determining their needs, the types of content they need to receive next, and how quickly you need to follow up.
Add Credibility and Influence with Customer References
When researching solutions, tech buyers rely most on their peers, followed by industry thought leaders and vendor websites to get the information they need and influence their decision. This means that software and tech solution providers should DEFINITELY be employing customer references as a part of their marketing strategies. When a buyer sees a peer that has made a successful change similar to the one they are considering, it is highly persuasive. Third party validation is the most trusted source of information for tech buyers, and thus their testimonials, interviews and case studies should be included in your marketing asset arsenal and leveraged in your sales enablement efforts.
If you’re at tech marketer looking to move the needle with buyers this year, these strategies are a good place to start. Want to see how our sales enablement and customer reference solutions can help you do it? Contact a member of our team today to set up a brief walk-through demo.