Have an opinion and assert your expertise
Research published by Gartner in Harvard Business Review reveals that B2B buyers are increasingly overwhelmed by choice and confused by the difference between vendors. In reality, they want fewer options and a more prescriptive approach.
Positioning and purpose
How many times have you tried to convince a customer that your solutions are fast, secure, cheap, or complete? How many times do you think your competitors are saying exactly the same thing?
Instead of overloading customers with generic options, take the time to crystallize your positioning in an account. Positioning should be pertinent and never be seen in a vacuum. If you’re simply taking your corporate positioning then you’re not being sharp enough: context is everything. Show your customer – very specifically – why your business is uninterchangeable and why it is the best choice to solve their specific problem.
Closely related to your positioning is the concept of purpose. This is a higher, aspirational mission akin to Simon Sinek’s ‘Start with Why?’. It can connect on a level that’s much bigger than you, or even your client. It can inspire or inject moral authority into a relationship – and even disrupt a predictable procurement process.
Bain & Company articulate this well in their The Elements B2B of Value, arguing that vendors need to elevate both individual and inspirational value. Recognizing the full range of both rational and emotional factors behind purchases is critical to avoiding the commodity trap.
Every aspect of your customer communications should reflect your unique positioning – from sales decks and landing pages to brochures, direct mail and customer meetings. Businesses can flinch at the time and effort this takes. But the investment case for account-ready content is clear when set against recent findings from Forrester on budget wastage:
A typical large enterprise with $1 billion or more in revenue wastes approximately $1 million creating content that buyers don’t want and sellers won’t use.
Modern B2B Buying Experiences Require A Singular Content Strategy, Forrester, 2018
Imagine re-directing that $1million into content that would have impact. Two-thirds of sales teams already spend up to ten hours per week modifying marketing content – let’s ramp this up by getting sales and marketing working in step together.
Another way to reinforce positioning is to earn clients’ respect with an objective point of view. This shouldn’t be a thinly veiled excuse to promote a new product but a way of asserting your credibility as a trusted advisor.
Customers are looking to suppliers to challenge their thinking and teach them something they don’t know. Your products won’t win the day without quality of insight and ideas.
Be ready for this with a fresh view of the world that provokes debate and showcases your expertise in your clients’ worlds.
Try these ABM hacks:
- On your next client engagement, take with you a couple of ideas around a trend you think your client is overlooking.Practice the value-based conversation to uncover the true value of a stakeholder’s personal and business goals – then frame your positioning in this context.
- Set yourself apart from competitors by always been ready to share your insight and opinion on news that impacts your clients, their customers, or their markets.
- Ask one of your team members to summarize the best current business book and hold a 15-minute debrief with a client.
- Continually seek your client’s opinion. Don’t disappear for 6 weeks to work on a proposal – make this a two-way process with opportunity for debate and discussion.
- Make a client feel great by asking them to share a blog, podcast, or speaking event on a strategic theme.