We know what buyers don’t want from sales and marketing. They don’t want hard sales pitches. They don’t want long presentations that have no value. They don’t want to talk to a salesperson unless it’s on their terms. They don’t want impersonal marketing emails.
What do buyers want? Here’s a look at a few things at the top of their list:
1. Buyers Want Knowledgeable Salespeople
For the most part, buyers are independent and like to self-educate, says Josiane Feigon, author of Smart Sales Manager. They want to conduct their own research, learning about an issue and possible solutions on their own time and in their own manner. They don’t need salespeople or professionals to pitch their services; they need people who can answer their questions, analyze the situation, and offer advice.
Buyers “are desperate for salespeople who are bright, are smart, are intelligent, [and] are doing their homework. They want a virtual relationship or even a social relationship with those types of salespeople,” Feigon says in her podcast interview, “Buyers Don’t Need Traditional Salespeople Anymore.” “So, really the message is salespeople must become a lot smarter, a lot leaner, [and] much more equipped to meet this customer on their terms.”
Andrew Sobel goes further and says buyers want advisors. They want people who will collaborate with them as well as educate them, he writes in his article, “Is the Trusted Advisor Still Trusted?”
That means you must:
- Be empathetic
- Put buyers’ needs first (even if it means saying no)
- Have big-picture thinking so you can see trends and connect them to their business
Advisors “go beyond ‘professional credibility’ and build deep personal trust with their clients. They have great integrity, put their client’s interests first, and are immensely reliable and consistent,” Sobel says.
Such trusted relationships reduce risk, he says. They reduce the risk of misunderstandings, delivery problems, and missed deadlines.
“Clients know this and value it because we live in a world that’s more fraught with risk than ever,” he says.
2. Buyers Want Multimedia Marketing Materials
Buyers’ preferences run the gamut when it comes to marketing materials. Some have fully moved into the online world where they want to see everything on their laptop or mobile device. While others like traditional print marketing, and others respond well to a mix of both.
So, if you think the traditional brochure has gone the way of the dinosaur, you are mistaken. It plays an essential role in a multi-faceted marketing strategy.
A brochure “has staying power and a readability that’s greater than a blog or social media site,” Bruce W. Marcus writes in his article, “Are Printed Brochures Obsolete?” ”And unlike a blog or a website, which can be read only on a computer or mobile device, a brochure can be read anywhere—no Internet connection needed.”
It can’t, however, be the keystone of a total marketing effort, Marcus warns. But when combined with other marketing activities, it can be powerful and offers a “strong overall impression of a firm.”
And when done well, a brochure “can demonstrate a firm’s most valuable asset—its skills and intellectual capital—and serve as a catalog that describe a firm’s capabilities, facilities, expertise, or point of view,” he says.
3. Buyers Want You to Make It Easy for Them to Make a Referral
A pleased buyer is happy to make a referral for you, but you have to make it easy for them to do so. They already have more than enough to do; don’t give them anything more.
That means staying away from questions such as “Do you know anyone who would be a good fit for our business?” or “Who can you introduce us to that would make a good client for us?”
“While those questions seem obvious, they’re useless because they’re too broad,” says Colleen Francis in her article, “A Pragmatic Way to Ask for a Referral.” “Almost always, the response you’ll get is, ‘I don’t know, but let me think about it.’”
Then usually they go back to what they were doing and forget about your request, she says. It isn’t intentional. They just have a lot of things going on, and they don’t have the time or energy for extra work.
“To successfully acquire referrals, you must fundamentally change your requests,” Francis says. “First, do the work for your client. The best thing to do is go to the client equipped with the names of people and their positions or the companies to which you want to be introduced. Then ask for that specific introduction.”
As Editor of RainToday, Michelle Davidson oversees all of the articles published on the website and produces the weekly newsletter, the Rainmaker Report. She also produces the site’s weekly podcast series, Marketing & Selling Professional Services, and the site’s webinars. Prior to joining RainToday, she worked for several years as Editor in Chief of various websites at TechTarget; she also worked as a copy editor at magazines and newspapers, as a book project editor, and as a reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @michedav.