By Dick Stark
Last week I tuned into an IDC webinar, “The IT Buyer Speaks: What Do Customers Really Think about Your Marketing Techniques and Sales Teams.” I was interested because we spend nearly as much time on sales and marketing as we do on implementation and consulting.
What do customers think? The short answer is customers value marketing content more than they value sales calls and they want help with problems.
The Webinar reviewed IDC’s recent IT buyer experience study in which IDC surveyed 204 organizations including manufacturing, finance, public sector, and education. Emerging trends are: larger buying teams (7 people), longer buying cycles (5.4 months), and more knowledgeable and more connected buyers. Interestingly, buyers receive on average 6 calls and 14 emails per day from vendors, but only return about 10%. Here are the top takeaways:
- Buyers actually want a shorter sales cycle and value time with the technical more than the sales teams. The most helpful approaches: listen, justify, be honest, and bring the best pricing to the table early.
- Provide more valued content. Financial justification, e.g., ROI studies tops the list. Regarding content, vendor credibility, press articles, independent authority and peers make the best sources.
- Improve engagement quality. The CIO, although important to the sales cycle, is not the greatest level of reported influence. Instead of focusing on the CIO, make it all about the buyer.
- Value is what matters. Buyers look for value over relationship over cost. To achieve trusted advisor status with the buyer, be honest, be responsive, strive to establish a long-term relationship, and keep the buyer up to date on products and solutions.
The action items for RightStar are plenty, but it is clear that we need to continue to invest in pre-sales resources, proof of concepts, customized demos, and sell value. On the marketing side, it is important to continue with regular technical webinars and educational events. Social media is coming on strong, meaning Linked-In and blogging should become a more effective marketing strategy. Most importantly, we need to help our customers solve problems so they don’t have to. Only this way can we continue as their trusted advisor.