For our July Webinar, Mark Stiving, PhD, Chief Pricing Educator at Impact Pricing, shared insights into the buyer’s value discovery journey and how winning B2B sales organization use this to customize their sales approach in a way that buyers perceive more value and are more likely to purchase. After the session, he answered questions from the webinar audience. In this blog, we share part one of his live answers.
You’re the fish-tail drill bit sales guy – what do you do?
Let’s say that somebody has called and said, “hey, we’re looking at your fishtail bit. Can you come talk to us about it?” The number one thing to do is figure out what they’re trying to get accomplished. What is the problem they are trying to solve? How is it that we could help? What kind of results you think you might have? Now, we’re actually starting that value conversation, even though we haven’t called it out and said that we’re going do a value conversation. We’re just capturing the most important things that they’re trying to do.
The key here is in no way do I ever talk about my competition. That’s the key. I’m having a conversation with someone. They’re loving what I’m demonstrating, they’re saying, “oh my gosh, you can go this fast? This is really awesome.” Then, and this is a magic sentence if you want to know if your buyer looking at a competitive alternative or not, ask the following question: “If you don’t buy from me, what will you do?”
You certainly don’t say, who else are you looking at? What else are you going to consider? The implication is, if you don’t buy from me, you’re not going to do anything. So that’s my favorite question at that point [in the conversation].
What role can marketing play in impacting a buyer’s value journey before interacting with sales?
Fascinating question, because if you look at the buyer’s value journey map, what you’ll find is that the whole top row is without salespeople involved. It doesn’t say this, but it really could suggest that it’s marketing’s responsibility, right? Marketing is driving everything that is on that row that says, “without sales help.”
So now the question becomes: what should marketing be talking about? If I were in marketing’s shoes, I would be talking about the value of solving the problem, hoping that I can find people that are going down the “will I?” path going down either the trust journey or the relationship journey. Essentially what we’re doing is bringing people into the market that didn’t necessarily know that they were going to solve this problem, or that they wanted to solve this problem. If we spend our time saying, “hey, let me tell you how we’re better than the competition,” then what we’re doing is we’re assuming our customers are going to go on that analytical journey. We’re starting out by telling them, “hey, there’s the competition. Go look at that.”
I would say most car dealers could do an analytical marketing campaign and say, “here’s why we’re best.” Kia has an ad that says, “we’re just as good as a Mercedes, only half the price.” I know you’re going to go look at other cars, so I might as well tell you why you want mine instead of someone else’s car. But if we’re in a business where it isn’t obvious, or there’s a bunch of solutions, we should only be talking about the solutions to the problems we solve and not talking about any competitive alternatives.
Now, I’m talking about marketing, I’m not talking about sales. One of our jobs in marketing is to fill the funnel. Who are you going to fill the funnel with? People who want to do an analytical journey? Or people who want to trust or relationship journey?
How would you approach a value conversation centered on more intangible value drivers? Is there a way to quantify?
Oh, those are really fun. So we’re going to have a value conversation, and I go into a client and I say, “what’s the problem you’re trying to solve?” And they go, “employee satisfaction – our employees are not satisfied.” And how the heck do you measure employee satisfaction? What the heck does that have to do with anything? What you have to do is you have to do is peel back the onion. We’ll ask the question, “so if we could get employee satisfaction better, what do you think that would do? What do you think that would cause?” And then they might say, “we think that would reduce turnover.”
So now I’ve got something that’s measurable that I could use, but what if they say instead, “we think there will be less arguments in the company.” Okay, so what if we could solve the less arguments problem? What do you think that would cost? We’re going to keep peeling the onion back until they get someplace that’s quantifiable. The thing I love about B2B is in almost every case, you can make a profit argument for any product a customer’s going to buy. And we just have to get to the point that they’re thinking that way.