Buyers and sellers don’t always see things the same way. B2B buyer turnoffs show where marketers are missing the mark.
Top B2B Buyer Turnoffs Show Where B2B Marketing is Missing the Mark
New data shows that for success in B2B marketing and sales it may be just as – if not more – important to understand B2B buyer turnoffs that are causing misalignment with seller marketing. A new book published by Hinge Marketing (free download) called, “Inside the Buyer’s Brain” reveals that B2B sellers don’t always know what is really most important to their buyers. These same factors could indicate where any B2B marketing approach might need to change.
B2B Buyer Turnoffs Stem from Biggest Business Challenges
In the study, B2B buyers of professional services were asked to indicate what their top business challenges were; here’s what they said:
- Tough economy / competitive marketplace
- Budget constraints or financial issues
- Attracting or developing new business
- Finding and keeping good people
- Keeping costs under control
- Maintaining quality and efficiency
- Responding to new regulations, requirements and mandates
- Leadership changes or other internal changes
- Technology related issues
- Issues with their vendors or partners
As if playing a round of the B2B Newlywed Game, B2B marketers were asked how well they knew buyers. When ranking what they thought their buyers top ten business challenges were, they agreed with the number one challenge as noted by B2B buyers of a tough economy and competitive marketplace. However, while sellers thought that technology issues should be number two on the list, buyers ranked this far down the list.
With the economy, budget constraints, financial issues and the need to keep costs under control within the top five on both lists, it’s important to note that B2B buyers are just as concerned as consumers in general about getting good value for their money.
It’s interesting to note that buyers say attracting new clients and attracting and keeping quality staff are among their top challenges. B2B marketers whose products or services can help client’s win in either or both of these two areas may be well-served by marketing campaigns that highlight and demonstrate their power to help buyer’s organizations better attract and retain both customers and quality employees.
B2B buyers are also far more concerned about maintaining quality and efficiency than sellers seem to recognize. Just as with developing new business and concerns about attracting and keeping top quality employees, B2B organizations need to that remember that their best selling points are going to be the marketing messages that point out how they advance – not just benefit – the businesses of their clients.
Do You Know What B2B Buyers Most Want to Avoid?
Understanding B2B buyer turnoffs and biggest challenges is just the beginning. Sometimes it’s not just about figuring out what the B2B buyer does want, but it’s also about knowing what they want to avoid. The Hinge Marketing study revealed this list of top ten things B2B buyers want to avoid when purchasing professional services:
- Broken promises and vendors that don’t do what they say they’ll do
- Service providers that turn out to be just like all the others
- Over-paying, cost overruns or billing surprises
- Conflicts of interest
- Poor quality work or a subpar deliverable
- Working with a firm that turns out to be a bad fit or has the wrong values
- Being overly involved in the process or ending up doing most of the work themselves
- Working with vendors who don’t understand the buyer’s industry
- Inexperience or incompetence
- When the job doesn’t get done and/or the problem doesn’t get solved
In this second of four categories we wanted to review, the disparity between what sellers believe to be true about B2B buyers and what they indicate as most important to themselves is even greater.
Sellers believe that buyers are most concerned about (and, by extension, their satisfaction will be most impacted by) cost overruns or billing surprises. In fact, buyers are far more likely to be disappointed in a professional service provider if they don’t meet expectations, break promises, or – in the end – end up being no better than the other vendors they might have selected.
Just as it applies in dealing with consumers in general, B2B marketers should follow the advice to “under promise and over deliver,” and find some way to exceed the expectations of their clients.
It should also be noted that while sellers did not think their clients would be concerned about conflicts of interests, it ranked fourth on the list of buyer concerns. B2B marketers should steer clear of situations where buyers might perceive a conflict of interest and inform buyers about policies which help to protect them in cases where they might be providing professional services to competitors.
Low cost cannot make up for a bad reputation or a bad fit when it comes to the top B2B buyer considerations. Find out what else influences the B2B buyer.
Marketers Often Fail to Correctly Identify Top B2B Buyer Considerations and Tipping Points
Understanding what really drives B2B buyer considerations during the buying process can help you refine and polish your marketing approach. What you learn can help you better-communicate how your organization and its products and services are a great match for your prospect’s needs. Now take a look at the disparities that exist between what B2B sellers believe to be true about their clients vs what their B2B buyers say is true about themselves when it comes to choosing professional services.
Top 10 Considerations of B2B Buyers When Choosing Professional Services
Even though the economy topped the list when it came to the top ten business challenges B2B buyers say they face, cost did not top the list when it came to B2B buyer considerations when choosing professional services. Here’s what B2B buyers said most influenced their decision-making process:
2. Cost and/or payment terms
3. Good fit and shared values
4. Team expertise and skills
5. Ongoing involvement of senior leadership
6. Being an approved vendor or being “on the list”
7. An existing personal relationship
8. Choosing a vendor whose scope, size, etc. put them “in the same league” (with buyer’s needs)
9. Referrals and recommendations
10. Flexibility and responsiveness
The disparity when it comes to sellers beliefs about what matters to buyers on this point is striking. Not only did sellers believe that price was the B2B buyer’s top consideration, nearly twice as many sellers believed it to be true. Though it did rank second among B2B buyer’s top considerations, the reputation of the professional services firm was far and away the most important consideration for buyers.
Other areas where B2B sellers also appear to vastly underrate buyer’s concerns include whether their company is a good fit in general and exhibits common values, and the on-going involvement of senior leadership (within the seller’s organization) after the sale is made.
This seems especially interesting in that buyer’s seem more impressed by professional service firms where they perceive that senior persons in the organization will maintain a watchful eye over their account or even be responsible for providing their services.
We think it’s also worth pointing out that sellers believe that flexibility and responsiveness is a more important selling point than buyers indicated. Many agents, consultants and professional service firms market their organizations with selling points of flexibility and responsiveness, follow through, etc.; however, there are other factors which are more important to buyers (and therefore more deserving of being included among marketing selling points).
What B2B Buyers Say Can Tip the Scales and Help You Land the Sale
Since you already know that B2B Buyers top consideration in selecting professional services is reputation, it should not surprise you that a good reputation heads up the list of factors B2B buyers say will tip the scales when it comes to their buying decision. But it may surprise you to see just how far down on the list cost is, and what factors rate as even more important to these buyers, including existing relationships, expertise and specialization, past performance, the perception of receiving a better value and the importance of having a good fit.
What is also striking is the importance sellers believe expertise and specialization has as compared to its importance to their actual buyers. Equally interesting when comparing both charts above is that while personal relationships aren’t among the top five considerations for B2B buyers when choosing a professional services firm, it’s second on the list of tipping points.
B2B marketers may want to rethink campaigns based solely on impressing buyers with their expertise, niche expertise or even past performance; or at least augment these marketing messages with reputational, social and other testimonial proof.
It’s clear that B2B sellers need to do more homework when it comes to the assumptions they are making about buyers. In addition, sellers must be more aware of their organization’s reputation in the marketplace as well as the characteristics buyers perceive to be true about them, such as their values and organizational culture.