In the world of B2B technology, it used to be that marketing and sales efforts were primarily targeted at the IT department. But now more than ever, business decision makers are involved. According to Forrester Research, 73% of North American B2B technology spending is business-led or heavily influenced by business leaders. IT purchase decision makers now include general managers, business development executives and heads of functions such as marketing, finance and human resources—and many of these roles have their own technology budgets. Technology sellers need an approach that also speaks to the business decision maker.
The roles of technology buyers are changing…make sure you’re reaching key decision makers with the right message.
The challenge is that many tech companies still use IT-focused messaging to engage the business audience, and it doesn’t resonate. While that new feature your engineering team spent so much time developing may be cool, how does it translate to make your B2B prospect’s business more successful? Business buyers are looking beyond the technical aspects of the offering and want to know how the solution will address their most pressing business needs. They want to understand the real value the product brings to their organization.
Messaging that engages the business audience on their terms can help speed the sales cycle and make the difference in winning the deal. Here are three simple steps to keep in mind to engage the business decision maker.
- Understand your prospects’ pain points. Start by understanding the key drivers for your audience and then look for alignment with what your solution can do. What are their top business priorities and challenges? For example, if you offer a mobile device management solution, business drivers may be around keeping data protected in a mobile work environment, or helping employees be more productive and efficient. Understanding your prospect’s specific needs up front will help you ensure you have success in breaking through with your message.
- Use storytelling to show them the value. Once you know what pressing issues your audience faces, define real world scenarios that will show how your technology can make life better. For example, if your prospect is concerned about protecting business data, you might show how sensitive customer information on an employee’s lost or stolen laptop can be remotely deleted from the machine so it isn’t compromised. There are a number of ways to bring stories like this to life in marketing and sales collateral—a short, animated video, an infographic or a sales presentation, for example.
- Prove it. Now that you’ve made it clear what outcomes your product can produce for your business audience, you need to give some credibility to your story. This is where you prove the ROI. If you can give quantitative data on business value that is, of course, ideal. Another way to accomplish this is through customer evidence. Show them that a third party achieved the results you described above. This is also where you can go a little deeper into how your product works, it’s capabilities and how it differentiates from what your competitors offer.
Be sure to understand your prospects’ pain points, as the foundation for messaging will resonate with them. It’s also critical to integrate storytelling into your sales process. Doing so will not only help your organization show real value to prospects, but will also improve your own organization’s bottom line by shortening your sales cycle.
Steve Heuring is a partner at Audienz, a company that specializes in delivering marketing campaigns and content for technology B2B sales and marketing professionals. Steve’s first language is technology; his other first language is storytelling. In his 20 years in product messaging and content creation, he’s consulted with startups as well as Fortune 50 companies.