How Intimately You Know Your Prospective Customer Is Everything
No product is perfect for every purpose. The trick is to make your product excellent for a specific purpose, and make sure that the people who have this specific purpose know about what you can offer, and prefer it to the way they are already doing it, and prefer it to all the other ways that that could be doing it
If it turns out that your product isn’t the best in a category you have a couple of choices, either improve your product or redefine the category. Most companies look internally and play the blame game between departments to force change in a product. This can be immensely expensive, time consuming and often ineffectual. While you are trying to change a product to make it competitive, the competition are not standing still, but are also improving their product, and they have a head start (if they already have a better fit to the market).
The other choice is to redefine the market. This may sound crazy but it really isn’t. In your mind you have decided that your product fixes a specific problem, but if you haven’t got the best product to fix that specific problem, maybe you really have a product that is better a fixing a slightly different problem. And it could be that by aiming more clearly where you already have competitive strength you can win much more with you existing product.
Ask your current customers why they chose you; don’t be afraid of hearing the truth from the people that have already invested in you. It may not always be a purely positive answer, but you need to hear it. Sucking less than your competitor is all it takes to win a market, if you are willing to be honest with that market.
Change is always a risk, so if you are asking your prospects to change what they are doing, you have to help them understand that without this change bad things will continue to happen or start to happen. No one goes through the pain of change without a clear understanding of the benefit.
You have to know whom you are dealing with. Often the person that signs a deal is not the one who makes the decision. Who actually has the responsibility for using the very thing you sell? What do you know about them, their work life, their home life, their hobbies, their families, their education, their background. It can be really surprising to find out that the very people who are your prospective customers come very a very similar series of backgrounds. Knowing this can allow you to truly engage with them, and identify what truly influences their buying decisions. Maybe they look very different than you expected, and maybe they act very differently than the ways you expected. People like to buy from people they like and trust. The more you can understand about the people you are marketing and selling too, then the more likely they will believe you are the right partner for them.
Marketing to businesses is not easy and it’s not fast, but the more you respect your prospective customers then the more likely they will respect you.
About the Author
David Liff is a thirty-year veteran of global technology B2B, B2C marketing is the founding partner of the B2B Marketing agency B2B³ (www.b2b3.org). B2B3 is focused on helping companies dramatically improve their marketing efficiency and effectiveness, driving down costs and driving up the volume and value of closed won business through tried and tested methods and execution discipline.