The buyer’s journey and customer experience are trendy topics, and for good reason. Vendors want to fix their leaky sales funnels. They’re tightening up their marketing and sales pipelines to increase conversion rates at every stage. They’re trying harder to sell in a way that meets the needs and preferences of their customers. This customer-centric approach to selling is a more efficient way of doing business, and it can be a competitive differentiator in a crowded market, where the technology products themselves offer similar functionality at similar prices. Thus, B2B tech marketers are abuzz with becoming buyer-centric and customer-obsessed.
The gap between what buyers want and what vendors give
But despite many marketers’ efforts, what buyers want isn’t quite what’s delivered. In a recent survey of B2B technology buyers from our latest B2B Buyer Disconnect report, we found the top five resources used by business technology buyers are:
The same study found that the top five tactics used by vendor marketers are:
See the disconnect? The tactics vendors use are poorly aligned with buyer preferences. Only one out of five resources match—product demos. And even with product demos, there was a broad range of buyer feedback, depending on the depth of the demo, whether it included real data/use case examples, and the responsiveness of the rep leading the demo to on-the-fly questions.
So what’s going on here?l Classic “tried and true” programs don’t work as well as they used to. Year-over-year trends show the purchase process has changed, and so have buyers’ expectations. But what marketers and salespeople are doing to help potential customers along the buyer’s journey is lagging behind.
Report Cards for top 5 B2B marketing tactics
To help B2B tech marketers visualize the problem, and understand why their tactics aren’t working as well as they’d like, we translated our research findings into a format that’s fun and easy to understand: report cards.
These grades are based on a combination of factors:
- Do most buyers use this tactic? This is the number one factor. If buyers aren’t using the tactic, it can’t get over a B.
- Do buyers find the tactic influential to their decision?
- Do buyers find the tactic trustworthy? Most vendors aim to be transparent, but only 36% of buyers find their vendors forthcoming.
- Do vendors think the tactic is effective?
- How difficult is the tactic to produce or create?
Got an A grade? Keep it up! These tactics are influential and trustworthy for buyers, and notably effective for buyers. Closer to failing? Tactics that scored a C or D , on the other hand, are unused and untrusted by your buyers and not even meeting vendors’ performance expectations. Why keep investing in tactics that aren’t effective?
Skip summer school—your customers are your secret weapon
Don’t let these less-than-perfect grades for these old-school tactics get you down. There’s plenty you can do to improve your marketing arsenal and better serve your buyers. Most importantly, it doesn’t have to mean more work for you. For starters, customer voice can help you score better everywhere. (For inquiring minds, here’s a primer on what customer voice is, and why it matters to marketers.)
How does this work? It’s a virtuous cycle. Your customers are satisfied by your amazing product. You collect their feedback. Your customers feel heard. You have real customer results and examples to use in your assets and campaigns. Your buyers feel satisfied that they’re able to find the information they need. They’re more likely to trust your marketing materials, and see your company as an influential advisor.
Your individual sales reps will reap the benefits, too. They’ll be armed with more evidence, and be free to speak more directly, since practical feedback (the good and the bad) is already out in the open. More effective reps leads to more closed-won deals, which means more customers who will be wowed by your products can go on the record for you, which starts the whole cycle again. Sounds pretty great, right?
These 8 steps will infuse your marketing funnel (or flywheel!) with customer-voice goodness:
- Get a broad sample of your customers on the record.
- Drive the detailed, balanced customer feedback your buyers need.
- Identify hand-raisers who want to be references for you.
- Make reviews of your product independently available, easy to find and understand.
- Curate topical quotes for your website that will uplevel trust and conversion.
- Produce authentic collateral infused with customer voice.
- Enable your sales reps with the social proof they need to catch prospects’ attention, handle objections, and keep deals moving with multiple stakeholders.
- Analyze trends in customer feedback and buyer activity.
If you’re looking for more detailed best practices, need some support for this kind of initiative, or just want to learn more about how leading tech companies are using customer voice in their marketing programs, reach out to us. We would love to help you transform your website, case studies, collateral, and other programs into buyer-centric masterpieces.