The Trust Imperative
Research from Forrester last year reveals that B2B buyers are frustrated by what they perceive from vendors as an utter lack of understanding regarding their business context. Instead, buyers lament that vendor communications are too narrowly focused on their own solution, without first gaining an understanding and appreciation of buyer needs and challenges. In light of these perceived deficiencies, savvy marketers can create a valuable differentiation by crafting buyer-centric, trust-building content which conveys a clear understanding of who the buyer is and what their needs are. So, too, can marketers engage in valuable sales enablement by working with their counterparts in sales to help them better articulate a buyer-centric message.
And the need for a buyer-centric understanding and appeal is clear. Forrester’s research reveals that buyers only give a marginal grade of “C” to vendors regarding the vendor’s knowledge of their own products, while flunking them in all of the following buyer-context categories:[i]
- Knowledgeable about my industry.
- Knowledgeable about my specific business
- Can relate to my role and responsibilities in the organization
- Understands my issues and where they can help
- Prepared for the questions I ask
- Has relevant examples or case studies to share with me
Clearly, in order to begin building that vital element of trust, what is needed is a deeper understanding of the complete buyer context from the buyer’s perspective. Such an approach allows marketers to build trust through understanding and insight, by crafting content that reflect these through their relevance and credibility.
In part 1 of our 3-part series on the buyer-centric formula for creating trust-building content, we address those vital issues of relevance and credibility (read the full market brief here):
Know your buyer’s context – relevance & credibility
To enrich our understanding of our buyer’s context, we must consider it in both the generic and specific senses. The generic context informs our knowledge of the language and issues pertaining to our target buyers’ industry, market(s), and personas, while the specific context addresses the individual’s particular needs and challenges. And nothing quite replaces the value of learning directly from the source – leading both market research and the sales conversation with questions that dig deep to first flesh out the buyer’s specific context, not only informs that understanding, but also conveys a sympathetic willingness to place listening to the buyer over speaking to the buyer
Active, ongoing research to identify relevant drivers and challenges
Creating relevance requires current, accurate information that paints a complete picture. To this end, carefully select robust, credible, and varied sources. Fleshing out the generic context will help you see beyond the obvious to provide unique insights. Look to industry news, blogs, and analysts for industry insights, but also look to social media to gain the popular perspective. Pay attention to the questions being asked and the content being shared. And also seek to understand overlapping industries and contexts, in an effort to see around the corner to issues that could affect your target market. A well-crafted survey can be a great tool for both customized market research, as well as a vehicle for driving customer engagement.
Own the role of trusted advisor.
Being diligent in amassing a deep understanding of your buyer’s context, including what motivates their behavior, provides a wealth of valuable intelligence. Use this resource to craft insightful and unique messaging that will see your organization well positioned as a thought leader. From here, sales can speak intelligently regarding your buyer’s full context, from the generic to the granular specific. Coupled with a sympathetic, buyer-centric approach, marketing and sales can both engender confidence in prospective buyers, creating bankable trust and goodwill.
To learn how prospect surveys are exceedingly effective and efficient at gaining the buyer context, read here – or download our market brief “The Buyer-Centric Formula for Creating Trust-Building Content”
[i] Forrester presentation, Feb 2014 “Improving content and conversation for B2B sales success.” http://www.slideshare.net/poneill1956/improving-content-and-conversation-for-b2b-sales-success