Selling products and services to other companies is easy, right? Well, no; it never has been. Among other challenges, marketers often miss their target by trying to appeal to a faceless corporate entity, instead of the human beings who make up that entity.
Perhaps it’s time to let go of the Business-To-Business paradigm, and shift toward Human-to-Human marketing.
Look at the Person Behind the Job Title
And recognize that she or he is a complex creature trying to juggle a range of logical, and not-so-logical, considerations. As you list the benefits and features of your product or service, they’re asking themselves questions that you likely hadn’t addressed.
Will the benefits of your product make them look good to their colleagues and supervisor? Will making the right purchase decision help them feel good about themselves? For an efficient bean counter, a purchase that saves their company money down the line has both a logical and an emotional component.
Consider Their Risks
Might they be concerned that your service will just create additional work for them? Or even worse, will its automated features somehow make their job obsolete? What will happen if they buy from a vendor who isn’t well known, and things go south?
Think through all the opportunities and risks from their perspective, not yours. The key to H2H marketing is to somehow position your product or service as their own means to their own ends. Sure, it’s a pain to think about all that when you’re just trying to make your sales numbers. But if your competitors know the category’s business buyers better than you do, guess who’s going to prevail?
Try a Little Empathy
What challenges are those decision makers facing every day, and what pressures are they under? If you show them you truly understand their everyday work frustrations, they’re more likely to extend their trust. That’s just how humans are wired.
Yes, the purchase price is an additional initial cost for a company that’s trying to cut expenses. But it will save money down the line, and that’ll make the manager feel pretty good when they submit their monthly reports to the CFO.
Doing Double Duty
H2H Marketing doesn’t mean you no longer have to support the goals and agenda of the company you’re trying to sell to. It means that you also have to support the goals and agenda of the person who is making or influencing the decision.
The H2H approach doesn’t mean abandoning the logical benefits of a company’s purchase. It means also subtly folding in emotional considerations into your messaging. Did we mention that B2B selling is hard? Those who succeed are typically those who go the extra mile.
Those who do succeed in B2B know that this is key. And the best way to establish promising relationships with prospects is to start by helping, not selling.
A series of helpful, objective e-books that helps the prospect reach their goals is going to gain their emotional trust more than a one-time marketing piece. A series of cordial ‘touches’ via phone or social media will create a far better H2H connection than a one-time cold call.
Even when a prospect calls you, it’s smart to make a human-to-human connection before going on about all your company’s experience and expertise.
H2H Marketing on Your Website
It’s not a bad idea to include a brief section on your company’s Home page with a photo of, and an insightful quote from, the person at your firm who the interested prospect will be initially working with.
On your Contact page, it’s also smart to mention that person’s name, so they have someone to ask for when they call.
Your site’s About page also offers a virtual opportunity to create a H2H connection. How? By telling an origin story that describes the CEO’s struggles before they hit on the right approach to solve their market’s problems. There’s nothing more human than a good story.
H2H Marketing realizes that ‘companies’ don’t make buying decisions. People do. So start there.