Connecting with the buyer: it’s the ultimate goal for both marketing and sales, but what does it really entail? How do you ensure every connection is meaningful and instrumental in moving your buyer towards a purchase decision?
These days, the term ‘connecting with your buyer’ can refer to about a hundred different channels and modes of communication, but one thing’s for certain: shooting off an unsolicited and impersonal sales email is not considered effectively connecting with your buyer.
In fact, effectively connecting with your buyer means personalizing interactions as much as possible, and that requires that you understand your buyer on several levels. Let’s dive in.
Understand buyer mentality.
Yes, we all know that the buyer has changed, but do you have a thorough understanding of how?
If I asked you how long, on average, it takes organizations to make a major purchase decision, what would you say?
What if I asked you what top factors influence this decision?
These are important questions to know the answers to — ones that ultimately should impact your entire strategy for marketing your product. For instance, with the information below (from International Data Corporation’s 2015 report), you may rethink the way you currently use LinkedIn to promote your content, or start building an influencer marketing strategy.
Luckily, there’s plenty of research out there that can provide the answers to the questions above and many more. Start by checking out Selling to the Information-Driven Business, a 2015 InfoBrief from IDC, and then conduct some research of your own to familiarize yourself with the modern buyer and start changing how you connect.
Know your buyer — before you pick up the phone.
It’s one thing to understand industry-wide trends in buyer behavior; it’s another to understand the needs of the buyer you’re about to call in five minutes for a product demo.
You can’t truly personalize your buyer’s experience until you understand the needs of their individual business, and answer questions like:
- What particular features of your product are of most interest to this buyer, and why?
- What are the greatest pain points they face currently?
- What processes do they currently have in place, and how can your product improve upon those processes?
- Who owns these processes, and what are their top concerns?
- When are they planning to implement a solution (if they currently have plans to)?
True, some of these questions will probably have to be answered with a direct conversation. But how much more effective can this conversation be if you go into it armed with an understanding of what the buyer is looking for, and the ability to direct the conversation towards the buyer’s needs?
Furthermore, if you wait for a direct conversation with the buyer, it may be too late. Going back to our industry research, when asked about their buying processes 65% of the respondents agreed that they usually engage a vendor sales professional only after they have made a purchase decision (IDC, 2015).
When asked about their buying processes 65% of the respondents agreed that “We usually engage a vendor sales professional only when we have made a purchase decision.” (IDC, 2015)
The answer to this problem is simple: data. Your buyer is already telling you a significant amount about their needs and interests through their activity on your website. Employing prospect tracking and progressive profiling can help you to really connect with your buyer when you start a conversation with them — rather than just giving them a generic sales pitch. To learn more about how marketing automation can help you use data to connect with your buyers, check out this presentation by Adam Blitzer, cofounder and GM of Pardot.
Know how to connect at every stage of the buyer’s journey.
It gets more complex; not only do you need insight into the modern buyer’s mentality and your individual buyer’s behavior, you also need to understand which stage of the purchase decision your individual buyer is in — and how you should connect with them accordingly.
It’s not as tough as it sounds; I promise. It’s all about understanding the three major stages of a buyer’s journey (research, consideration, and decision), determining what sorts of questions and concerns your buyer has at each stage, and finding the most concise and helpful way to address these questions and concerns every time you connect. That way, your interactions will be seen as helpful — not as sales-y interruptions to their work day.
For more information on stages of the buyer journey and examples of appropriate communication at each stage, check out our interactive infographic, Understanding the Buyer’s Journey. And be sure to share your own thoughts on connecting with the buyer effectively in our comments section — we’d love to hear from you!