Dec 16, 2016 7:29:50 AM
IT companies are facing some tough marketing challenges these days.
The problem isn’t increased competition or waning demand, but the dizzying pace of change affecting the industry as it grows.Just a few short years ago, business IT needs were driven mostly by security and maintenance. IT had a critical, yet limited role to play in most companies, with predictable outcomes. Now, in addition to managing these tasks, tech is a major force behind innovation, providing end-to-end architectural support and facilitating organizational growth.
Enterprise knows that competing in today’s world depends on increased connectivity, sharing, and mobility, and a small in-house team cannot satisfy these needs on their own. All signs point toward growth for IT Service Providers this year, but sales will depend on how they adapt their communication strategy with buyers.
Communication between IT and the C-suite has never been easy, but we have to get past this challenge.
You've heard this before, but it needs repeating. Executives aren’t interested in how things work. They want more leads for the sales team, easier ways to share reports and data sets, and an integrated CRM that allows customer-facing employees to collaborate efficiently.
When providers spend too much time talking about tools they often leave potential buyers with a murky recollection of value. It’s far better to stay focused on problems the customer is facing, and how your services help people overcome them.
Microsoft partners have a great resource for this. The Customer Immersion Experience allows them to give people an interactive test-drive with tools that remove hurdles from everyday tasks. After interviewing stakeholders about challenges they face with collaboration, communication, workflows, and data management, you can guide them through functionality in Office 365 that overcomes these problems.
That’s a powerful way to sell, and it doesn’t matter whether you have access to immersion tools like CIE or not – it’s the principle that’s important. We need to show customers how you will help them achieve success, and skip the long-winded explanation of the tech behind the curtain.
One of the most critical considerations in every tech purchase is the transition.
Companies often dread change, and with good reason. This presents a huge opportunity for your company to stand out from the rest. How can your teams simplify the conversion from legacy programs to your solution, and ensure high employee adoption rates? Offering a program that smooths the implementation and helps businesses get to their objectives quicker will make a big impression on potential buyers.
Every organization wants ROI, and sales people do backflips trying to prove they can deliver it. This is not always a good idea.
Even though some metrics can be linked to cost-savings – especially cloud migrations – many are speculative and unconvincing to executives. Remember, making and saving money is important, but those are not the only factors driving the decision.
Instead of trying to bend metrics toward proof of ROI, sales people should emphasize credible benefits. If someone is about to make a big investment in digital transformation, they will want to know what the adoption and utilization history is. They want to know their employees will actually use, and benefit from, the plans you put in place.
Selling is good communication. Pure and simple.
When marketing people know the critical factors influencing buying decisions, they can develop content that speaks to these concerns your potential customers have and attract quality leads for the sales team.
Publishing helpful, informative content is one of the most effective lead generation strategies you can implement today, but it is a collaborative process. Marketers can't do it on their own. They need real insights to guide their efforts:
These are just a few aspects of the buying process that will help Marketing do its job, and sales teams can provide some information to them. This is why many organizations are encouraging more collaboration between the two departments. Sales relies on Marketing for leads, and Marketing relies on Sales for customer insights that will help them create better content.
It’s important to note, though, that sales people cannot provide all the information Marketing needs to do its job well. Due to the nature of their work, sales people treat every prospect and transaction as unique, customizing service plans to meet the needs of individual clients. Getting the sale closed one at a time – that’s their job. They can’t easily share patterns in the decision-making process among a large group of buyers. In addition, sales teams are only privy to what the customer shares with them. A lot of important discussions play out behind the scenes, and you will never know what they are unless your company interviews buyers for these insights.
Despite the limitations, sales people have close personal contact with prospects and they need to share this information on a regular basis with marketers.
Selling IT boils down to conveying simple solutions to complex problems. It’s about good communication, and that is the result of careful listening. It doesn’t matter what we think customers should find important; it matters what they think is important. By researching the success factors they desire, the transitional process they need, and the criteria they use to eliminate contenders from buying decisions – you will have a goldmine of valuable insights into what motivates your customers.
Put them to good use. Publish content that answers customer questions, and soon, you will see a change in the number and quality of leads your website pulls in.