Tag Archives: buying process

A big mistake your B2B sales team is likely making…

Focusing on the Decision Maker vs. the Decision Making Process

A single decision maker for b2b purchases is increasingly a myth. Focusing on trying to convince a decision maker vs. focusing on understanding the decision making process is a mistake even experienced sales professionals make. In today’s b2b world, most businesses have some process of prioritizing projects and internal resources in addition to budgets. Rare is the case that someone wants to 100% own the responsibility of signing an agreement, spending budget money and owning a project when it’s likely other projects were seeking those same funds and resources.

A caveat here, if the firm you are selling to is very small or your product is transactional (e.g. non-subscription) and relatively inexpensive (e.g. less than $5,000) the below may only loosely apply  – but even President / Owner / CEO’s seek other’s opinions before signing on the line that is dotted.

Asking whether or not someone has the authority to make a decision is a pretty standard 101 question that will rarely give you enough information or insights to either accurately forecast the sale or even move the sale towards closing. This self-identified “decision maker” likely can make a decision, but that decision is usually whether or not they want to pursue the deal internally vs. actually making the final decision on the go/ no-go.

No matter what you are selling, every business has a list of projects in a queue waiting priority and you are competing with the attention bandwidth applied to those items; whether they are related to your offering or not. A better course of action is to seek clarity how decisions are made within the organization; including the financial decision as well as the project priority process.

How do you do that?

Ask better questions related to the process itself once you’ve earned the right to do so. Below are some very simple examples that you can adjust to your specific situation:

  • Mr. Prospect, based on my experience working with other clients, there are often other individuals at the business that like to be aware of what my company will be providing to your business; if only to avoid any confusion once you’ve made a decision. When your business has made similar purchase decisions – how did that process work? Do you typically involve others in the evaluation process as well? How do you recommend we work them into this process to make this as smooth as possible?
  • Mr. Prospect, I have to imagine there are other projects looking for budget or resources that might be unrelated to this; where do you think this project would fit into those priorities at the executive level and how do we best work together to help you navigate that?

TIP: Don’t fall easy victim to the false positive of your proposal going to executive committee / management meeting or board meeting for review. Always clarify that your proposal is on the agenda and a priority. All too often I’ve heard a deal forecasted because it was going to committee for final signoff only to learn that the board never got around to discussing the proposal and it’s pushed off to the next meeting.  Make sure your sales executives ask the question “are we formally on the agenda for the meeting as a priority?” It might feel uncomfortable to a sales rep to ask that (which I don’t get) but without confirmation, you are flying blind.

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Eyeblaster Research: You Need To Reach Beyond the Keyword…

Eyeblaster published a “research note” back in February that I just had an opportunity to read and I thought it was a great reinforcement to my frequent mention of the importance of “Full Buy Cycle” marketing.

In particular I thought this “commentary” on search (pull) vs. display (push) advertising was crisp and to the point:

“…search does not bring new prospects into the funnel, but rather moves existing ones through. This raises the question of scalability – the reach of search is limited to prospects that are already in the funnel. Furthermore, the number of those lucrative prospective customers with intent to purchase is limited. The question that arises is how to get more people into the funnel.

One way to increase the overall number of conversions is to extend the number of keywords. While it makes sense to explore other related keywords, at some point, keywords may lose relevance. Once the keywords purchased are extended too far, it would be the equivalent of buying an ad for taxis in the restaurant section of the yellow pages, since someone may need a lift…..The difference between search and display is that in search, only prospects who have shown an active interest in the product by typing a keyword are shown the ad, while in display, the ad is pushed to all of the target demographic….”

Link to Report (Registration Required): http://www.eyeblaster.com/data/uploads/ResourceLibrary/Eyeblaster_Research_Note_Search_and_Display.pdf

 

 

 

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Filed under B2B Marketing, online marketing

“Last Click Syndrome” Simplified

A brief story illustrating the dangers of relying on the “last click” to measure the effectiveness of online marketing expenditures using a simple “offline”  analogy to bring the point home.

To understand how the credit for the sale is “unfairly” being attributed to Google; consider this “offline” analogy:

Let’s say it’s the morning of Super Bowl Sunday and you decide you want to throw a couple burgers on the grill for the game – so in your head you already plan on hitting the grocery store for burgers. This is what we would call “pre-existing interest”…but first you’re scanning the paper – catching up on all the pre-game hype…while doing so; you notice an ad for a store you don’t typically frequent. This ‘gourmet’ store is advertising a sale on buffalo burgers for $5.99 a pound – bingo!

You had just read an article a few days before in your favorite health magazine courtesy of a friend’s facebook post about the benefits of buffalo meat and just like that – you shifted from buffalo curiosity a few days earlier to buffalo interest because that ad triggered your memory of something that had previously caught your attention – so off you head to the gourmet supermarket to buy your burgers.

You park your car and on your way into the store you happen to notice a big sign in the window advertising Buffalo Burgers for $5.99 a pound – good to confirm you’re in the right place…a contextually placed relevant ad as you enter the store..so you walk back to the meat department wondering where the buffalo burgers might be…and lo and behold there’s a  bright neon-colored sign advertising the $5.99 buffalo burgers with an arrow to a special section of the meat cooler.

This bright neon-colored sign is the last ad you see before selecting the burgers and heading to the checkout.

Under the last-ad-seen model, the article you read earlier touting the benefits of buffalo burgers over traditional beef burgers, the newspaper ad you read in the morning advertising the buffalo burger sale and the sign hanging in the window viewable from the park lot were all worth nothing and did not contribute in any fashion to your ultimate purchase. Instead, the reason you bought the buffalo burger was because of the neon sign pointing to the meat in the meat section.

Ludicrous if not idiotic right?

But using this analogy; you can see the danger of relying on counting only the last ad seen as not all advertising is intended to be immediate direct response and transaction driven.

Now tell this story, or a similar one, using online vehicles as the same can be said for online advertising in the b2b space…guess what the “last ad seen” tends to always be…a search engine link driven from Google…leading unfortunately to them unfairly getting too much credit for the sale happening vs. contributing to a later stage of the buying process…

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Filed under B2B Marketing, lead generation, online marketing

Google Testing Full-Contact Lead Capture

Google AdWords is testing a type of full contact lead capture for Adwords; the below link has more details but looks like “PPC Hero” was the first to roll out details on this beta, named contact form extensions.

Contact form extensions provides a contact form directly in the search ad, which a searcher can fill out and the advertiser can then use in the future to contact that lead. It is very similar to a lead acquisition form, but this one is found directly in an expanded Google AdWords ad.

Link to article from Searchengineland; which contains links to th PPC Hero content as well.

http://searchengineland.com/google-adwords-testing-lead-capture-forms-contact-form-extensions-32971

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B2B Buying Process Simplified

Many of my posts allude to the “buy cycle” and I have a series of posts on this blog that cover the various phases of the buy-cycle in pretty deep detail; but I was recently asked to summarize my thoughts as part of an executive presentation.

I thought my simplified version was worthy of a post – so here you go:

“As someone involved in the Industrial Marketplace – when researching or reading or searching online – are you doing this with a mouse in one hand and a credit card or purchase order in the other hand just itching to buy?

Chances are – probably not; and neither is anyone else online.

 There is currently over 150 years of research on HOW and WHY consumers of all kinds make decisions about WHICH and WHAT products to buy and well over 10 years of this research dedicated to just online “buying” behavior.

The results of this vast amount of research consistently reveal that there is a process or “buying cycle” to how people behave…

1. People become aware of, or INTERESTED-IN a particular product or service
2. As a next step, they CHECK IT OUT by doing some kind of RESEARCH
3. They then COMPARE & DECIDE which to buy; if any

 This simple buying process reveals two big things:

  •  Not every visitor is ready to buy all the time
  •  “Impulse Buying” does not generally exist in the Industrial B2B space

Of course this isn’t meant to imply that these people have no value; in fact the opposite.

Potential B2B buyers spend a lot of time online and see a lot of ads. Their purchases are therefore generally the outcome of multiple influences over time. We know that the impressions and results from the first few exposures and searches by a potential customer create the baseline used to compare all options under consideration as final selection nears.

As a result, a marketer needs to build awareness, consideration and purchase intent before the purchase is made.

If you aren’t marketing to all aspects of the realities of the buy cycle; your marketing plans and media campaigns will fail to reach their full potential.

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Positive News and Trends for Manufacturing – ISM Report

Some fantastic positive news was published yesterday by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) on trends within the Manufacturing Sector. If you aren’t familiar with ISM – it’s a not-for-profit US based association with more than 40,000 members. The ISM serves purchasing and supply management professionals.

Every month since 1998 they publish a report called the Manufacturing Report On Business; the information in the report is gathered from both surveys of their members and global economic facts / trends.

As part of this report – they provide a “Purchasing Manager’s Index” or PMI – The PMI is a composite index of five “sub-indicators” including:

  • Manufacturing Production Levels
  • New Orders (from customers)
  • Supplier Deliveries
  • Inventory
  • Employment Levels

The PMI figure can vary from 0 to 100; a PMI reading of 50 or higher generally indicates the industry is expanding and below 50 means it’s contracting. The rate of change of this reading over time is also important as a reading of 51 coming after a month with a reading of 56 would not be seen favorably – but a reading of 51 after a month <50; the opposite is true.

For August – the PMI was 52.9; the highest value since June 2007; in July the value was 48…a 4 percentage point increase and more importantly – the first greater than 50 rating in 18 months.

In short – it is saying that after a year and half decline in manufacturing – August is showing growth.

According to ISM – the growth was driven by significant strength in NEW ORDERS; which was up 9.6 points to 64.9 percent – the highest total since DECEMBER 2004.

Additionally; the growth appears sustainable as inventories have been reduced for 40 consecutive months and supply chains will have no choice but to re-stock to meet this new demand.

Some great news for us to leverage as marketers to make sure we are in front of what is expected to be a sustainable trend – new orders and increasing searching, sourcing and purchasing across the supply chain!

Link to the ISM report:

http://www.ism.ws/ismreport/mfgrob.cfm

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Is a lead with a public email address as valuable as a lead with a business email address?

Since a good portion of my dialog with marketing folks revolves around the topic of lead generation; I’m sometimes in situations where what I perceive to be a valuable lead is not necessarily what my clients perceives to be a valuable lead. As I’ve said in some prior posts – I’ve learned the hard way that the first thing I absolutely have to do is get on the same page as my client / prospect as to what their definition of lead is, and a quality lead at that. Simple common definition issues can really create problems or expectation issues down the road; or even kill the sale altogether without common understanding of each other’s perceptions and definitions of leads.

One lead generation issue that has recently come up is the perceived value of a lead when the individual opts to use a public email address, such as a yahoo, hotmail or gmail as opposed to their “business” email address. There were some questions as to whether a lead had value, or the same kind of value, if they weren’t explicitly using their business email address.

Before we answer this question – I think there is an opportunity to first ask – why would a legitimate potential client choose to utilize a public email address vs. their work provided email address?

Based on my experience – here are a few reasons why:

• Prioritization: Most folks have “dual” addresses – we all have a gmail or yahoo account. If we registered for everything using our business email we would likely get 2-3 times as many emails as we already receive – my business email is for urgent business from external clients and internal correspondence…my sourcing and business research takes place in my gmail or yahoo account, which doesn’t mean it’s not important – it’s just typically not as urgent.

• Comfort: Plain and simple, most folks are just not comfortable using work email for anything but internal correspondence or client correspondence

• Privacy: People use public email accounts to “screen” information simply to make sure the site or information they’ve requested lives up to what they were expecting it too. My company sees this all the time from existing clients requesting some of our whitepapers – they use their gmail address; even though we have their business email address already on file.

• Control: A public email address gives me one level of anonymity in the event I’m not ready to engage in further dialog yet. My research is important – but again, it may not be urgent yet.

• Accessibility: Public email accounts are accessible via any web browser – any where; without having to log into secure VPNs or remote desktops – just simpler to do for folks when traveling or away from work computer on evenings, weekends etc.

• Portability: Folks like a permanent address in addition to their current address – if / when they switch jobs – they can still access certain information without interruption.

• Spam Control: Public email services like yahoo, gmail etc. have invested heavily in spam control technology…in some cases better than my own corporate spam controls.

 • Restrictions: There are certain companies and industries that flat out restrict the use or even access of work email for external communication due to security issues. For example; I spent two years working for a defense contractor– I was unable to receive or send email outside of the defense contractor network – but there were designated computers for external communication – but I had to use a public service email address when using them.

As you scan the list above – they all seem like plausible / reasonable answers why someone might elect to use a public email services – but I don’t think any of them ‘detract’ from the value of the lead. Whether a prospect opts to use a public email service or a business email service, it does not mean the individual is not a legitimate, qualified prospect – it simply means they are willing to receive unsolicited email – but only on their terms.

Hope this helps.

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Filed under B2B Marketing, lead generation, online marketing