Why B2B Buyers Don’t Buy – it has nothing to do with their need, your solution or your relationship.

Why B2B Buyers Don’t Buy – it has nothing to do with their need, your solution or your relationship.

I speak with sales reps and their customers every day about what prevented buyers from investing in solutions that perfectly matched their needs. The answers I hear from buyers always astound the sales team and are a complete mismatch (100% of the time) with why they believe they lost a deal AND in many cases, why they won. Think about that for a minute?

Buying is a change management problem not a solution choice problem.

A decision not to purchase a product or service has very little to do with the seller, the solution, the relationship or the need. It has everything to do with the buyer’s inability to manage internal change and the fact that:

  • there are people in the company that don’t see a need for anything new or any reason why they need to fix the problem now.
  • the tech guys have priority to do all new systems changes and enhancements themselves.
  • they don’t have buy-in to look for an external solution.
  • they’re not willing to give up the workarounds that they have in place and that contain the problem well-enough.
  • anything new will enter the company’s core systems and processes and force them to replace or reconsider what’s already working.
  • adjacent departments, processes and people will be displaced and the disruption will leave a mess.
  • the president has other more pressing issues and has not informed the rest of the company on these priorities yet.

The company systems and processes are sacrosanct.

A purchase is the very last thing a buyer wants and until everyone and everything that created the problem and would touch the new solution understands, plans for and agrees to the disruption it will cause, no purchase will take place. The smooth operation of the company systems and processes is essential and more important to them than fixing a problem that’s already baked into the operation of the business.

You better believe buyers “Get it”

Make no mistake, buyers know they have a problem that’s why they’ve built, funded, staffed and maintain workarounds to “manage” the problem. The external solution will impact all of this (the status quo) and they’re not sure how deep and embedded the status quo even is in their own company and it’s likely been there for years with lots of historical precedence and political supporters. So even though you may have exactly the right solution, if buyers can’t make sense of their own situation your marketing content, sales pitch, presentation and script won’t matter.

The problem gap between buyers and sellers

Sales reps have been trained to probe for needs, ask questions to inspire agreement and admit need, prove a need/solution match and enter into relationships based on what their selling.

Marketing is expected to create content that delivers the right campaign to the right buyer with the right solution, messaged the right way at the right time.

Buyers need to understand how they got to where they are now, what’s missing and how the problem is being maintained. They need to conclude that they cannot resolve the problem on their own or with known resources, they need to fully understand any negative consequences of change and they need buy-in from everyone that created the problem and will ultimately touch the solution.

Do you see the problem gap – different goals, different behaviors, different communication and thinking patterns?

It doesn’t matter what your product is or how you sell and market it, if the buyer doesn’t know how to align all of the pieces of their internal systems so everyone will be happy to change, they will do nothing. It’s not just a decision about the problem your product solves, it’s about understanding and managing the entire internal environment that contains and maintains the problem.

Closing the problem gap

Buying is not sales or selling/purchase-based, it’s all about managing change. Buyers need to get their ducks lined up and both sales and marketing can help them do exactly that and be on board and accepted as a provider when they go through their vendor selection process.

I understand this is not how sales and marketing are supposed to think or act but I can tell you that the best sales people that I’ve worked with actively manage and work the buyers decision making process right from that initial contact or 1st call response on a marketing lead and they’re firmly influencing buyer opinions and selection criteria and in most cases, they’re part of the buyers decision team. Try competing against that!

Best B2B buyer insights come from the deals you lost.

Best B2B buyer insights come from the deals you lost.

Of course, you talk to your customers. And it should be no surprise that they’re happy to talk to you. They’ve just spent time and money selecting your company and solution and they want this relationship to work. They’re happy to follow along with your line of questioning, confirm your product features and capabilities and tell you what you want to hear. It’s in their best interest.

It’s always smart to talk to your customers but it’s highly unlikely they will reveal any features or capabilities that were lacking in your solution or tell you that several committee members had concerns with the negative feedback about your company (accurate or not). Nor would they tell you why you didn’t make the shortlist or why your company was eliminated after the demo. These insights can only come from the deals you’ve lost.

The Good News.

These are the kind of insights that can really shape marketing’s perspective of what buyers are thinking about as they research and evaluate options early in their decision and arm your sales reps with the selection criteria they need to focus on in order to influence a prospective buyer’s purchase decision.

The Bad News.

These buyers have moved-on and don’t want to talk to you for fear that you will try to re-engage with them and your own sales organization doesn’t want you to talk to them either, in case you uncover failures in their sales strategy.

You’re on your own, to sell the buyer on why they should speak with you.

You’ll need to master an unscripted conversation that’s free from bias and encourages people that don’t want to talk to you, to share their true stories and buying experiences openly and freely. And you’ll need a background in sales and sales management to follow the purchase process and know exactly where and when to probe for deeper insights.

You can do this!

Our clients have used the information from our insight interviews to uncover the factors that trigger a search for a solution like theirs and all of the attributes of their company, product and service that recent buyers evaluated and said influenced their opinions and final buying decision.

We interview recent buyers (lost deals, won deals, no decision deals and deals that went down without your involvement) and look for the patterns and commonality across these interviews to determine which criteria consistently influences a buyer’s purchase decision.

Speaking the buyer’s language

We record these interviews and our clients use the buyer’s verbatim quotes to provide genuine, authentic messages that prospects can actually relate to, that speaks their language and connects with them on such a level that they call your reps earlier in their process.

This is a big one. The buyer quotes remove all the guesswork and assumptions, so our clients can provide answers to what buyers say really matters to them rather than using the same jargon and approach that their competitors are using.

Our clients have built case studies that focus on business and personal outcomes that they know buyers are trying to achieve, dealt with the perceived risks and barriers that sales reps are likely to encounter and focused on the selection criteria that recent buyers prioritized in order to win new deals.

And their sales people have continued this theme, sharing the details and capabilities that influenced the selection process in recent purchase decisions to guide prospective buyers through their own decisions.

Connecting with self-educating buyers

Most of the technology buyers that we speak with tell us that they disqualify a lot of vendors and abandon deals early in their search simply because there is so much information available that they just can’t seem to make sense of it all or that they just can’t translate all the jargon and technology speak well enough to be able to match their specific requirements.

But the really interesting feedback that we hear over and over again, is that the winners ARE getting called earlier in the process; they just seem to speak the buyer’s language and understand their problems better than anyone else.

More choice has led to more in-depth research. And many of these same technology buyers are turning to online resources to discover their options, research pricing and gather expert and peer recommendations. Before they ever pick up the phone and call a rep, they’ve formed strong opinions, evaluated and eliminated vendors and made dozens of decisions about their purchase.

If you’re able to speak their language and understand their problems better than anyone else, you’re much more likely to get them to call, request more information and help them find your solution before they discover something else on their own.

We uncover actionable buyer insights that you and your staff have never heard before - or you pay us nothing!

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You have a great message – hidden under a steaming pile of marketing jargon, adjectives and fancy words!

You have a great message – hidden under a steaming pile of marketing jargon, adjectives and fancy words!

You see them everywhere; on buses, buildings, websites, social ads and even in the bottom of urinals, trendy technology babble that jargon-hurling and language-torturing marketers use to make a great competitive advantage sound irrelevant and unrecognizable to the real problems that real buyers are trying to solve.

And you wonder why buyers rely on their peers, consultants and the prior experiences of their employees to decide which options they should consider and largely ignore vendor provided information.

Is your marketing content eroding or developing trust?

According to Hank Barnes at Gartner, 68% of the buying process has no direct involvement with the vendor, their partners or the vendors specific content and information. He stresses that buyers “have access to all this stuff from vendors, but making sense of it, interpreting it, understanding that they have the right stuff is where they’re really struggling.” Maybe the buyers just can’t translate the jargon laden generic marketing content, regardless of how good marketers think it is, to their specific requirements.

The lack of interaction with prospective buyers makes your website, marketing content and customer success stories all the more critical. And if your salespeople are only getting engaged at the tail end of a buyer’s decision process, your reps are unlikely to know anything about how the buyer navigated the earliest stages of the buying decision, a troubling limitation when this is the part of the buyer’s decision that marketing needs to influence the most.

Did the buyer say it matters or are you guessing?

Before your marketing team and/or agency create any new content, the first thing you should do is ask yourself “did the buyer say it matters” or are you making assumptions and guesses about what you think is important to them. If you’re guessing about what triggers their search, what outcomes they’re trying to achieve and the selection criteria that they believe will match their specific requirements, then your content isn’t likely to resonate with what prospective buyers are looking for.

The smart marketers understand this limitation and realize that the only way to influence the purchase decisions of a “silent” self-educated buyer is to anticipate their specific requirements, uncover the questions that they’re going to ask and provide answers that you know they’ll want to hear.

The best way to uncover this information is to ask recent buyers who just spent time and money on a solution like yours, to tell you everything they did and thought about as they evaluated their options and made a decision. Whatever they tell you is something that was very important to them or they would have forgotten it by now. The insight is pure gold!

Unfortunately, the best insights come from the deals that you’ve lost. These buyers have moved-on and don’t want to talk to you for fear that you will try to re-engage with them and your own sales organization doesn’t want you to talk to them either, in case you uncover failures in their sales strategy.

You’re on your own, to sell the buyer on why they should speak with you. You’ll need to master an unscripted conversation that’s free from bias and encourages people that don’t want to talk to you, to share their true stories and buying experiences openly and freely. And you’ll need a background in sales and sales management to follow the purchase process and know exactly where and when to probe for deeper insights.

YOU CAN DO THIS. LET US HELP!

Our clients have used the information from our insight interviews to capture the questions that buyers are asking about their solutions and used the verbatim quotes to create compelling, genuine and authentic messages that provide the answers that buyers want to hear and trigger a prospective buyer’s search.

They’ve built case studies that focus on business and personal outcomes that they know buyers are trying to achieve, dealt with the perceived risks and barriers that they’re likely to be concerned with and addressed the selection criteria that recent buyers have prioritized in order to win new deals. And their sales people have continued this theme, sharing the details and capabilities that influenced the selection process in recent purchase decisions to guide prospective buyers through their own decisions.

How do you know if these insights will be any better than what you already know?

Before we take a dime of our client’s money, we conduct an interview with one of their lost deals at our expense. As we share the results from that interview, prospective clients can understand exactly what they’re paying for and we can determine how difficult the job is going to be. In every case, this single interview has uncovered an insight or two that the client was unaware of or had neglected to consider as important.

Know Your Buyer

More choice has led to more in-depth research. Self-educated buyers are turning to online resources to discover their options, research pricing and gather expert and peer recommendations. Before buyers ever pick up the phone and call a rep, they’ve formed strong opinions, evaluated and eliminated vendors and made dozens of decisions about their purchase.

If you’re able to speak their language and understand their problems better than anyone else, you’re much more likely to get them to call, request more information and help them find your solution before they discover another one on their own.