A big mistake that B2B marketers are making today is focusing solely on the “value” that their product or service has to prospects or clients, aka B2B buyers. I know, I know. You’re already questioning the validity of this write-up because you’ve been trained to always shove “the value you provide” down your audience’s throat. Stay with me here and I’ll walk you through why that is a bad approach.
We all know how hard it is to find differentiators of your products, services or company in a (mostly) commoditized B2B space. How is your commercial real estate company different or better at finding my business the next office space than your competitor? How much faster is your data server than the other 25 data centers that claim the same download speeds? Why is your office furniture company different when you sell the same brands as your competition? These are the challenges that most B2B companies have when they are engaging with prospects or developing new marketing material.
If it’s so difficult for B2B buyers to see a real difference between potential suppliers, then why do B2B marketers focus so hard on getting buyers to understand the value their company offers? B2B buyers are not stupid. They understand the value that suppliers offer. They understand it because it is rarely different from the competition, so they have consumed the same value proposition from five different suppliers.
So, if understanding the “value” a supplier offers isn’t the main reason that B2B buyers don’t buy your product, then what is?
The Fear of ChangeFear of changing from an existing supplier that you’ve worked with for years. Fear of changing internal processes to accommodate the new supplier. Fear of asking peers and coworkers to trust them with this big company change. Fear of the emotional weight of making a wrong decision for the entire company. Fear of the committed time that will need to be dedicated to changing suppliers.
“The fear of change” is where B2B marketers should shift their attention when thinking through competing on the B2B buyer’s user experience.
For example, if you are the head of the buying group and you’re considering a new project management platform for the entire organization, imagine all of the questions that the rest of the buying group will have about potential suppliers. Will our current files transfer seamlessly? How long will it take to implement? How much more efficient will this make our team? Will there be proper staff training on how to use the program?
When developing content and sales enablement material, B2B marketers must focus on providing tools that allow buying teams to get over the fear of change. Here is a high-level list of good tools that marketers can create to help ease the fear of change:
- Case studies from current clients focused only on the implementation or transition with your company/product/service, not on the entire engagement
- Online calculator that measures efficiency savings instead of cost savings
- A very detailed timeline for all steps that will be taken in order to fully transition to a new supplier
- Email templates that can be used by the buyer to internally communicate who the buyer is and what the engagement includes with a timeline
- Do’s and Don’ts infographic of how to prepare for the supplier transition
B2B Marketers Thinking Like B2B BuyersA good exercise is to take a holistic look at your marketplace as a potential buyer. Poke around on some competitor websites (as a potential buyer) and start making a list of all the fears of making a change to these suppliers. This will help you determine what tools your company needs to develop to help ease the fear of change your buyers are going through.
I hope you didn’t misunderstand this post and think that I am encouraging you to stay completely away from showing the value your company offers. I’m not saying that. My point is that communicating and having the buyer understand your value is only table stakes today. You have to go a level deeper and alleviate the fear of change.