We are finally getting to the heart of the matter in terms of why vendors are seeing increasingly difficulty in targeting buyers in the market. Almost embarrassing how simple a concept, but given how long it took for us to identify is probably how indicative of how difficult it is to actually execute, let alone do it systemically and predictably.
In short, buyers are entering a marketplace trying to solve a problem. Vendors are in the market looking to sell their solution. The language differences are on par with “Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus.” Or so my wife tells me. (Joking - I really read the book)
Buyers have a different process that they go through to understand which problem they have, what solutions are avaiable to solve this problem, and what vendors provide the best “fit” for their problem. They are travelling from left to right.
Vendors are trying to evangelize their solution (features, functionality, value proposition) to the market. The challenge is that for most vendors, they don’t understand what problem the buyer actually has. They know why they purchased, who purchased, and what value it provided; but if you ask most SVPs of Sales and Marketing “what singular problem do you solve for the market?”, you will get a questioning look. They are travelling from right to left.
The reason is that is has been historically very difficult to get sufficient market insight to reduce the market down to a singular strategic problem. You either had tremendous market research analysis or you had a very holistic market. BtoB companies have neither so they have had to rely on marketing for awareness, business development for leads, and sales to close.
But what if you have clarity into the breadth of buyers needs sufficient to get clarity into the underlying root problem to forms a marketplace? With social media, buyers are now self-selecting where and how they affiliate to communities of interest. In this relaization is the key. Buyers are affiliating to communities of people like them who have similar interests and needs. BtoB buyers are doing the same. They are going to these same communities to figure out how to get answers to their problems. For many, this is the primary reason to affiliate to a community of peers. Help with understanding how to perform their jobs better.
As a vendor, if you can understand their buyer behavior and their process of getting educated; you can target and cater to their needs. You can streamline the process for them. You can streamline the process for yourself as you can eliminate much of your marketing that is shot-gunning based upon market coverage theories. You can also streamline your approach and the sales cycle as you can focus on their buying decision support.
Marketing, business development, and sales should be measured not by how they did, but how streamlined they were while still hitting their targets. If I can hit my numbers with 25% the staff and associated costs, isn’t that the point?