How to really upset your buyers

We live in a world where customer service and satisfaction is everything. Marketers build programs to reward regular customers and to make them feel special, and invest in satisfaction surveys to measure their success. So why are we saying you should upset your customers?

We all know that our salespeople are constantly looking for ways to delight their customers

Both the sales department and the marketing experts guard the happiness of the buyer jealously, promoting only positive and uplifting messages.

They say:

  • Good news travels fast

  • It takes 100 happy customers to overcome the effect of one disappointed one

  • “If you’re happy with our service, tell the world; if you’re not, tell us”

And so it goes. We’re conditioned to look for good news. We want to satisfy customer needs, and to have them pleased about their choices. We want to tell prospects about the benefits of buying our product, or the great outcomes others have achieved by using our services.

But here’s the catch – few businesses will buy if there are no negative consequences of not buying.

In other words, if they believe that the pain of inaction is less than the pain of action, then they won’t act. The pain of action includes your price, implementation time, disruption and risk. The pain of inaction – the “do nothing” option – is likely to be less clear. Your job is to make it clear.

In short, a buyer who has a need, but not a problem, won’t act. While they may need your product and want your services, if they don’t feel the pain of future inactivity, there’s no sale!

It gets worse. If your potential buyers can see the need but not the problem, they will take up your time, receive your solicitations, attend your seminars, download your white papers, accept your meeting requests – and do nothing. You get to wear all the costs and none of the revenue.

Marketing’s role is not to tell the world about your products and services, but to create a market keen to hear about them.

The role of salespeople has to change. They should not be talking about the products or their benefits until it’s clear what problem they are solving for the business they are seeking as a customer.

Your new success strategy

How do we move the sale along? The answer is surprisingly simple. Many of the tactics B2B marketers are familiar with still make sense; it’s just the content that changes:

  • Seminars – don’t use these to tell buyers about your products, but about why they need products like yours. If you present the virtues of your product, you risk giving them enough information to obviate the role of your salespeople. The role of a seminar should be to trouble your buyers about the problem you solve so that they want to talk to a salesperson – not to replace them. Build the case for action and spell out clearly how and why they should act.

  • Case studies – explain first the pain the buyer faced (or risked facing) that prompted them to act, and then describe how you helped them avoid that pain.

  • Letters, emails and articles – these should describe the gap, not the solution.

Leave the selling of the solution to Sales and Presales, once they know how the problem plays out in their buyer’s business.

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