If you want to accelerate pipeline and improve win rate, the solution is hiding in plain site. Your customers are an incredibly powerful — and often underutilized — tool in the B2B sales process. At last week’s Digital Sales Engine online summit, TrustRadius CEO Vinay Bhagat discussed strategies and solutions for leveraging your customer’s voice to engage today’s informed buyer.
Check out the recording and full transcript below.
Hello, I’m Vinay Bhagat, founder and CEO of TrustRadius. This session is about using your customers to do the talking for you, and doing so authentically and at scale.
There is no more powerful weapon as a salesperson than having your customers speak on your behalf. If we just think about how we all buy as consumers in our personal lives, whenever we’re making a considered purchase, be it selecting a hotel for a family’s vacation or buying a product for our home, we seek peer opinions. We go on to the web, we do diligence before we buy, we often look for reviews from consumers just like ourselves.
The same trend is now happening in B2B. A lot of the buyer’s journey is done digitally, not actually speaking to somebody, where a buyer is using your website to do research. And in many instances, they’re also using independent sources like TrustRadius to do research. They’re going out on Google, typing in keywords just like a consumer, and they’re finding information about products and comparing products. In many instances, they prefer to do independent research instead of talking to a sales professional. And often times, they trust what their peers have to say ahead of what a salesperson or even an analyst has to say. There’s a large and increasing body of evidence that reviews and the voice of the customer are now trusted more than any other source.
So, the question is, as a technology brand or as a B2B sales professional and marketer, what should you do in this context? How do you relate to this new breed of buyer who is skeptical what a brand may communicate directly but craves authenticity and craves hearing directly from customers?
Well, the strategy is quite simple. You need to elevate the voice of your customers. You need to put the voice of your customers in every aspect of how you go to market. Have your customers speak for you rather than your own content alone. But it’s also critical to be authentic. People have inherent distrust of content that just looks too good. They’re cynical in fact. There have been studies on book reviews on Amazon where, if the language is just too positive or the rating is too high, people don’t believe in the content.
It is important to make sure that the voices are truly representative of accurate customer sentiments so that people believe in and trust in the data. And also, frankly, that you may deter some customers who may be a bad fit for you, who read a review that shows that your product is not a great fit for their use case.
Also, this content strategy really needs to be personalized. If you’re selling to an airline, they want to hear from people in their industry. If you’re selling to a retailer, they want to hear from people in their industry. If you’re selling to an IT person, this is a market that they want to hear from people in their role. So, it’s critical not to take a one size fits all approach, but to put the voice of the customer forward in a way that’s tailored and personalized to your prospects.
A lot of people think of TrustRadius as a review site. That’s what we’re externally known as, 300,000 people each month use our platform to do diligence on products. But beneath the water line, there is a very powerful technology stack and set of offerings that are in place to help B2B technology brands really activate and harness the authentic voice of their customers at scale.
There are five key value pillars to our offering. Certainly, as more buyers do independent research, we want to help you put your best foot forward and influence active buyers by having an at-scale base of content that does its best job to help you highlight your differentiators. And our content shows up very high in search engines. We’re also starting to syndicate our content to other venues like LinkedIn.
In addition, we also help technology brands proactively use content in their own channels. We help them build an at-scale base of customer evidence much faster than building case studies, much faster than trying to recruit traditional customer references. And that content is kept evergreen and is of extremely high quality. The average review in our site is 406 words, the average reviewer spends 22 minutes writing a review, and a good chunk of them come back once a quarter to update their review and keep it fresh.
We also help companies drive demand by incorporating the customer’s voice on landing pages dynamically, in email campaigns and in social campaigns. And most importantly, for this session today, we also help sales teams use the voice of the customers to prospect, to nurture, to overcome objections, to address references. Last but not least, because the feedback that we’re garnering is at scale and regularly updated, it can also become an input into driving things like product roadmap decisions or customer operational decisions as well.
So, let’s just talk about each of these elements with a little bit more specificity. We’ve worked with technology brands like Marketo to build at-scale customer review programs, where we’re garnering super high quality authentic customer content and doing so at scale. In our first year with Marketo, we went from about 100 reviews to almost 300 on our platform, and they’ve now got almost 700 ratings and reviews on our platform. Within this content, there are thousands of powerful quotes, and I’ll talk about how we help brands leverage those quotes and sound bites later.
Because this content is on a public-facing website that has very good search engine authority, it means that it shows up when people are searching for products online. Google says that 78% of B2B buyers begin their evaluation with a Google search, and it’s really important that your content show up high in the search, but also that you’re doing your best to make sure that you’re well represented and putting your best foot forward.
But it’s not just about being passive in the sense of influencing buyers. We’ve worked with technology brands, like the enterprise BI vendor Birst, to actually curate their reviews into content assets like reports that they can then promote through social campaigns, through retargeting, through PPC, as a way to get the voice of their customer in front of prospective buyers. In their case analysts are still influential in their marketplace, and they’ve created an online buyer’s kit that meddles content from analyst with content from TrustRadius. And we now touched pretty much every prospect who evaluates them.
In the area of demand generation, every salesperson would like more leads, we help companies drive a demonstrable lift in lead generation by bringing the voice of customers authentically to their lead conversion pages. In this example, for securities vendor AlienVault, they had a price request page that was converting at around a rate of about 8%. The inclusion of the widget here, which streams dynamic content from TrustRadius, lifted the conversion rate on this page to over 12%, so a gain of 35%. They’ve now gone ahead and employed widgets like this across their website and they’re able to tailor the content that shows up on each of those pages according to the persona, the demographics, etc., and it’s driven a material lift in conversion across their site.
Now, let’s get to the stuff that’s really most interesting for sales. We’re now bringing the power of authentic customer social proof to the fingertips of reps. We’re making dynamic suggestions for the best content for reps to use to help them prospect, nurture deals, and address references. So, let’s talk about how this all happens.
First of all, when a marketer inside your company has an account with TrustRadius, they’re able to tag content within your reviews. So, what you’re seeing here is an example of a marketer highlighting what we might call a money quote, a powerful quote that talks about a proposition that’s kind of interesting, and then they’re able to tag it with themes like customer success or the name of the competitor or a value statement like ROI or a feature statement. You can maintain your own library of tags pertinent to your product.
In addition, you’re able to tag the content at a review level. So, if you, for example, have a certain persona or a certain industry vertical or a certain competitor and that needs to be highlighted at a review level, you’re able to tag and organize all of your content into a structured library of content.
Then what we help you do is leverage this content directly in sales. So, what you’re looking at here is a Visualforce component in salesforce.com, where for this specific vendor, they are selling to a given persona, a director of public relations. So they’ve got a persona type, Donald the Director, and they’re selling to a particular industry, high tech, and we are automatically suggesting all of the quotes, five quotes down, that are from directors in high tech companies. And then the rep can go in and choose the quote that they want.
Or, let’s say they don’t love all of those quotes, they can also just look at quotes from high tech companies in general, where you may have people from other titles, or other director level people in other industries. We’re making it super easy for a BDR or a rep when prospecting to embed the voice of the customer into an email or into a presentation.
Another use case is where a rep needs to either make a value statement or overcome an objection. So, in this example, this campaign wants to highlight, or this rep wants to highlight their integration to Google Analytics. So, they can click under the review tags, they can look under features, they can click on Google Analytics, and they can see all of the quotes and different reviewers show up under that theme. If they want to drill down and narrow the list further, they can add additional filters. If they want to filter by company size or by industry, they create a copy board, where they basically select the review quotes that they want that all link to authentic reviews, and they can simply drop all those quotes into an email that looks exactly like this.
This type of social selling can be used again to open doors for prospecting, where you can stand out from the competition by having relevant customer sound bites used in prospecting strategy. But they can also be used to overcome objections to increase win rate and instill more confidence in a buyer. Because at the end of the day, buyers are going to do their independent research, they want to understand what customers think. But if you can accelerate that process by just spoonfeeding the kind of content that they’re looking for, you have a chance both to influence their thinking but also accelerate the process of winning deals faster and win more deals.
We began TrustRadius in 2012, but began marketing this offering that you’re seeing today really in the last year. And in that last year, almost 100 technology brands have become customers of ours, where we are running programs to help them accumulate reviews and then garner insights from their content and deploy that content in their own channels to increase marketing and sales effectiveness. We work with a lot of big brands, like Oracle and IBM and SAP, but also young startups like TrendKite, who are doing disruptive things and really have great products and want to use the voice of the customer to differentiate themselves from the marketplace. Category leaders like Marketo, who are trying to increase their total available market by targeting new segments and using the customer’s voice to prove that they are a good fit for those segments as well.
If you’d like to learn more about what TrustRadius can do for you as a vendor, I encourage you to visit our vendor website, trvendor.wpengine.com, and feel free to email me personally, firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.