MarketingProfs ran a story this week about the reasons why customers purchase B2B (business-to-business services). The reasons ranged from “collaborated with me” to “offered solutions”. You can read the original article on MarketingProfs, but I wanted to offer my own take on the topic based on my years of sales and marketing experience.
People Are Illogical During the Sales Process
People purchase products and services based on a complicated stew of emotions, logic, and feeling. They may buy from one salesman because he reminds them of their favorite actor, while another person may buy from a different salesman because he looks like a favorite teacher. While most people apply logic to their choices, underlying the logic is their past history, their feelings and other factors outside of your control.
Your Task: LISTEN
Your first task when selling goods or services is to LISTEN. What is the person really telling you?
Number four on the Marketing Profs list was “Listened to me” but I believe that listening comes first on the list. If you don’t listen to what the customer is really telling you, then you can’t offer solutions.
Listening involves all your senses. It’s not just what the person is saying, but what they’re not saying. If they’re coming to you seeking a solution, listen to the problem. Sometimes the problem is what they say it is, but often there’s a “problem behind the problem” that needs to be explored.
The Reasons Behind the Reason
For example, a company called me to ask if I would conduct a teleseminar for their marketing staff on the topic of SEO. I gladly said yes, since it’s one of my favorite topics to teach. However, they didn’t need information on SEO – they could get that from books, online articles, and myriad other sources.
What was the real reason they wanted me to present on this topic? I had extensive industry experience that related directly to the audience’s job functions. Because the industry is so specific and so insular, they needed someone who had actually worked “in the trenches” so to speak and who could teach from a place of knowledge, experience and education. Just hiring any old consultant wouldn’t do. They wanted someone who their team members could trust, because she’d walked the path before them.
That was the ‘reason behind the reason’ for the assignment. My job wasn’t just to impart the basics of SEO to the group, it was to reassure them that good search engine optimization is useful for all industries, and that it was possible to implement good SEO in their industry.
Why Do People Buy from You?
Let’s look more closely at the Marketing Profs list of reasons why customers choose a particular vendor for B2B services. The reasons include:
- Educated me with new solutions.
- Collaboration (partnership)
- Showed me it would achieve results.
- Listened to me.
Among the topics on this list, do you see a trend? Education, collaboration, results.
Do you educate prospects on the possible solutions available? Do they feel like they have a true partner with you, someone they can trust to deliver the results? Lastly, do they see a clear pattern of results in your previous work – results you can demonstrate to them?
Clearly Convey a Reason to Buy
Remember that if you sell online, your words must convey the reason to buy. That goes for people who use the written word, as I do here in this blog post, audio or video clips.
- Are you clearly articulating the “why” behind the “buy?”
- Do you show the results people can achieve with your services?
- Do you offer new solutions or educate them on ideas they didn’t know before? (That’s content marketing, much of the word I do here at Seven Oaks Consulting).
- If you have conveyed the “why” before the “buy,” is it prominent on your website? Do you repeat it often enough? Saying it once isn’t enough – people may need to read it multiple times to truly ‘get’ what you’re saying.
In order to sell more of your goods or services, or acquire new customers, you’ve got to know, understand and apply tactics to address the secret reasons why people buy your services. Listen, learn, educate, respond and collaborate. It’s the best way to acquire, retain and create loyal customers!
Jeanne Grunert is the president of Seven Oaks Consulting. She’s an award-winning writer and marketing expert who works with clients in diverse industries to help them acquire, retain and create loyal customers through powerful direct marketing and content marketing strategies, great writing, and expert online promotion. Visit Seven Oaks Consulting to learn more.