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“Most B2B buyers only care about the value you bring to their business. They really do not care about your products.”

When I read this line on LinkedIn, my first reaction was to reply back with the classical Little Feat line

“Don’t Bogart That Joint. Pass It On.”

I’ve no argument with the first sentence. It’s true that most buyers will resonate with a B2B technology vendor’s offering only when it’s packaged as Marketable Items that convey business value.

Marketable-Item-What-400w

My beef is with the second sentence.

There comes a time in every purchasing process when the buyer cares a lot about a vendor’s products / services. This happens between the middle and bottom of the sales / purchase funnel.

To understand why, let’s see what happens before prospects reach this stage.

At the top of the funnel, a buyer is interested in knowing about solutions that add business value, not so much about the features of a specific product. Prospects at this stage will bother to grant a meeting to a vendor only if its offerings create gain or solve pain in the overall context of their industry.

Once they enter a meeting – i.e. after becoming middle funnel prospects – buyers want to know very quickly how the vendor demonstrates business value for their specific company (not just industry).

Based on the interactions at top and middle funnel stages, prospects then draw up a shortlist of 2-3 vendors and contact them. At this stage, they become bottom funnel prospects. In my 25+ years in B2B technology sales and marketing, if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, it’s that prospects now DESPERATELY WANT to know a lot of things about their shortlisted vendors. These include features, differentiators, implementation / delivery methodology, governance model, people, reference customers, price, and so on.

Therefore, I find the buyers-don’t-care-about-your-products claim to be nonsense. They do care, just that the caring happens at a later stage of the purchase process.

Vendors will risk losing the deal if they fail to realize this and keep harping about business value all the time. And with the so-called Buyer 2.0 doing more research on their own, more and more of them are ascertaining business value on their own. Vendors should gear themselves up to understanding the stage at which prospects are when they contact them and moving forward the opportunity from that stage onwards – instead of going back to the top of the funnel and talking about business value.

In a follow-on post, I’ll describe my experience with a vendor that lost a deal because it failed to do this. Watch this space!

Ketharaman Swaminathan On February - 27 - 2015

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IT Marketing, Uncategorized

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