Eight Things Your Prospects Wish You Knew

Eight Things Your Prospects Wish You Knew
Michele Linn - Wed Apr 29, 2009 @ 01:59AM
Comments: 32

Eight things buyers wish you understoodIf you haven't already gathered from my previous posts, the one thing I think every B2B marketer should spend time on is really understanding their buyers and developing all content and promotions with them in mind.

To make your job easier, here are eight things your prospect wished you knew. If you can master these, your content will be more targeted, your promotions better received, and your connections more meaningful.

1) Make it easy for me to find information about you.

Whenever I have a problem, I like to find quick answers. There are certain places where I typically look for information, and your prospects have these spots, too. In a future post, I'll provide some ideas on how to discover where your ideal buyer hangs out online so you can target them specifically.

2) Use words I understand.

The best B2B marketers I know have a knack for explaining things in very easy-to-understand terms. I admire these people greatly because it is much more difficult to explain things simply than it is to use big, academic words.I relate best to someone who can explain something to me using terms I understand, and your prospect does, too.

As I covered in a previous post, avoid "gobbldygook" which is a term coined by David Meerman Scott that refers to words that are so overused that they have little meaning. (Check out the post for a link of gobbledygook words and a link to a grader that can tell you if your text uses these words.)

3) Tell me what's in it for me.

Truthfully, people don't care what your products or services do; they want to understand how those products and services can help them solve their problems. Yes, this is something you hear all the time, but company-focused content is so rampant that this is a point worth repeating.

4) Understand where I am in the buying process and customize your follow up.

In a Savvy B2B post last week, Stephanie made a great point: "The way a prospective buyer approaches an issue doesn't neatly align with the way companies think of the buying process." I couldn't agree more.

Here's a great example of what not to do: I registered for a white paper a couple of weeks ago, and yesterday I received my first follow up email from the company. It was from an "inside sales coordinator" asking to set up a 30 - 45 minute demo with me. Seriously?! They have no idea why I downloaded the white paper, if I have any need for their solution of if I am in a position to buy, and they suggest that I invest 30 minutes of my time with them? While every company has a unique buying process, it typically does not progress from a white paper download to a live demo.

Here's a much better approach: In an interview of Ardath Albee (CRM guru) on the Marketbright blog, Albee recommends creating a buyer synopsis. She explains that the buyer synopsis is a "combination of a persona plus a problem-to-solution scenario. In other words, how would this type of buyer go about solving a specific problem your products can help them with? What are the questions they'd ask at each stage and what answers can you provide that propels them forward in that buying process?" Great idea! How many B2B marketers actually take the time to do this?

(See the related posts at the end of this article for some other great resources on a sample "buying process map" and ideas to get started with buyer personas.)

5) Don't wait too long to contact me once we've established a connection.

Yesterday I received an email from a local grocery store that stated I had expressed interest in getting email from them, and they were asking that I confirm my email address. I think this email stemmed from one of those frequent-shopper cards I registered for - about four months ago! Needless to say, I deleted the email as it is apparent they don't have a great email system in place. Granted, this is a B2C example, but the applications are the same.

6) I probably don't want to talk to you - at least not immediately.

According to the TechTarget 2008 Media Consumption Benchmark Report, the best way to follow up with IT buyers after they've downloaded content is with online collateral (88% consider this favorable); the worst way is with a call from telemarketing (95.4% consider this unfavorable). The survey was specific to IT buyers, but it is noteworthy that the vast majority of respondents didn't want a phone call. Most of us hate phone calls (I never even provide my phone number), but it's common practice for telemarketers to follow up via a phone call after just one download.

7) But when I decide I want to make contact, make it easy for me.

You never know how prospects are going to find or reengage with you. It could be through a planned email or any page on your website. They could also be re-reading a white paper, watching a webinar or rediscovering a piece of direct mail you sent. You get the picture. Whatever you have that is prospect-facing, always make it easy for them to contact you for more information. This seems like another simple one, but it is amazing how often this doesn't happen.

8) Help me understand how you are different.

Several weeks ago, a colleague and I were researching email solutions. After we narrowed the list, we really wanted to understand how two of the competitors compared. While you would think this information should be somewhat easy-to-find, we really had to dig. Even when I was engaged on an online chat with one of the company reps and asked the pointed question, "How are you better than xyz competitor," this company didn't have a solid answer. After some searching, our best info was found on forums and blogs. Every company needs a quick and concise answer to this question.

As a B2B marketer, how do you make sure you are addressing your prospects' needs? And, as a buyer, what do you wish companies would do differently to make your experience more pleasant?

Related posts:

Comments: 32


1. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Apr 29, 2009 @ 06:25AM

While these points seem obvious, it's far too easy for marketers to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle and overlook the basics. I'm sure many marketers will appreciate these important reminders. One addition - "remind me where I first heard of/came across you." Many prospects are exploring a variety of websites, attending multiple webinars, downloading numerous white papers...you shouldn't expect them to know who you are when you get in touch.


2. Michele Linn   |   Wed Apr 29, 2009 @ 09:23AM


Great addition. Every contact with a prospect should remind them how they initially contacted you. I download so much stuff that I can easily forget when I am contacted. I also agree that a lot of these points are really basic, but it is amazing to see how often content or promotion are developed without these simple things in mind.

3. Stephanie Tilton  |  my website   |   Wed Apr 29, 2009 @ 09:54AM

I hope you realize that by "basic" I didn't mean not worth talking about. Rather, I meant that it's shocking that marketers can overlook these points. These things should be at the foundation of any marketing initiative. Thanks for sharing them here!

4. Ardath Albee  |  my website   |   Wed Apr 29, 2009 @ 10:04AM

Michele -
Thanks for including an excerpt from my interview! This is a great blog post and nicely written from the buyer's perspective. More marketers need to start thinking from within that frame.

Stephanie also made a great point. Like you, I download a lot of research. It's amazing how many follow-up emails I get that expect me to remember whatever it was that prompted them to try to pitch me after one download.

One suggestion I make is to put yourself through the process before you expose your prospects to it. Or even as a check on how things are working. Go download a white paper from your company's website. Use an email that isn't your corporate one. See what happens. And while you're experiencing it, make sure you put yourself in your customers' shoes. It can be an eyeopening experience!

Thanks for the great post!

5. Michele Linn   |   Wed Apr 29, 2009 @ 10:31AM

Stephanie: I absolutely understood what you meant, but thanks for the clarification! Personally, I think more marketers should have the basics down before thinking social media, Web 2.0, etc. (I think Jennifer Spencer made a similar comment in her interview with us last week.)

Ardath: I appreciate the positive feedback! I happened upon your blog, Marketing Interactions, a few weeks ago and have really enjoyed it. And great suggestion to put yourself through the same process your buyer would. Coincidentally, I had a similar conversation with some marketers yesterday about doing this very thing. It can be quite enlightening!

6. Tim Sandford  |  my website   |   Wed May 13, 2009 @ 01:04AM

Good article and sound pointers. My only comment is that is both sad and actually quite scary that this article had to be written in the first place. We find that a lot of our clients do not have a sound grasp of the basics either which results in marketing as a business function both significantly underperforming and being seen as a waste of time. Once we get them organised and help them to position themselves and their products more effectively using just the basics, they are always pleased and surprised in the 'sudden' uplift in sales.

7. Neetish  |  my website   |   Tue Jan 19, 2010 @ 05:16PM

Great post,
Interesting to notice that all the points look very-very obvious once youve read them....still most are missed by B2B marketers.

Thanks for the post

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