As the power has increasingly shifted to B2B buyers, with their expanding ability to conduct significant research prior to even engaging with a salesperson, the role of marketing has expanded. A marketer’s job now must include a portion of what used to be a basic role of the sales team, namely to introduce and justify the value proposition in a complex B2B sale to prospects.
Price Isn’t a Top Factor in B2B Sales
We have been doing primary research for B2B clients for 20 years. One of the interesting things we have seen in every survey we have ever done is that the importance of price has never been a top-three factor. It rarely even scores in the top 10. Yet it remains a default assumption that price is a presumed driver, as this summary chart of 500 B2B companies from bigcommerce.com suggests.
It is important to recognize that the price of a product or service is always a result of benefits, features and perceived value. It is not a standalone, causal determinant. This realization will enable your content, advertising and related marketing to presell the value proposition in relation to what you actually know is important to the market. This also allows the sales process to pick up where the marketing left off, namely, to focus on the high-value importance factors that are most important to the prospect, rather than defaulting to price.
Selling on price alone is a failure. It means the intrinsic value proposition wasn’t effectively conveyed to justify a premium price to reflect the differentiated value in the product.
Research Reveals the Messages that Differentiate
The market will tell you what’s important to them and how your products specifically perform on those same importance criteria if you ask. But you have to ask and be open to listening to what is really important to them. It might not be what you think.
Too many companies focus on what they think they are good at, rather than what is important to prospects in their market. This marketing malpractice is surprisingly common and leads to the perception of product parity, which makes it very difficult to justify a premium price.
Marketing has an important obligation to communicate in a differentiated way, with a clear goal of both educating the prospect and engaging on a more human level. This will naturally make the prospect want to learn more—and be prepared to engage in conversation—sooner, rather than later with your sales reps. With more effective research, marketing can connect to the buyer with greater credibility.
This allows sales to get involved earlier in the process with a head start toward closing the sale at a premium price.
One of the key roles of marketing is to ease the selling process. Research can give you a major competitive advantage by removing unnecessary friction from your sales process.
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