Competitive_Small copyKnowing your buyers is essential for building a persuasive case to purchase your solution instead of your competitor’s. But if your understanding of buyers is based solely on information gathered from your sales team, product marketing or other internal stakeholders, then you only know part of their story.

Sixty percent (60%) of the B2B buying decision is made before consulting with a vendor. That means your internal stakeholders only engage with buyers at the later stages in their buying journey and have only captured part of the information you need to effectively market and sell to them. Moreover, buyers are usually reluctant to share all the factors that went into their purchasing decision with your teams.

That’s why interviewing buyers who bought your solution, buyers who considered your solution but chose your competitor, and buyers who never considered your solution at all -  is so powerful. You’ll gain new insights about how all buyers – both known and unknown to you – move from status quo to making a purchasing decision, and why.

Here are five things you can learn about your buyers that will give you a true competitive advantage. It’s based on 5 Rings of Buying Insight™ – a proven methodology used by three out of the five largest software companies in the world.

1. Why do some buyers make your solution category a strategic priority, while others choose the status quo?

Buyers don’t just wake up one morning and make your solution category a priority for their organization. Something triggers their decision to do something about the problem your solution addresses and investigate options. This can be an internal trigger, like a new member of the executive team coming on board or not hitting revenue targets, or it can be an external trigger, like changes to industry regulations or a competitor who has just launched a disruptive new technology.

When you know what the exact triggers are for your solution category, you’ll know when buyers will be most receptive to engaging with your content or hearing from your sales team. What’s more, you can use this insight to target organizations even before they have an identified need with a provocative insight aimed at moving them away from status quo. “You may not have experienced this yet, but it’s coming. This is what others have done about it.”

By demonstrating your subject matter expertise in this manner, you’ll position your company as a trusted advisor and get ahead of the RFP process.

2. What do buyers expect to change in their organization after implementing your solution and why?

Buyers have very specific ideas of what they expect to change after implementing your solution and the benefits they will see. However, if you’ve reverse-engineered your value proposition based on your solution’s features and functionality, instead of what’s most important to buyers, you’ll have a much more difficult time getting buyers’ attention – or your value proposition may not resonate with them at all.

However, when you hear buyers express how they expect their world to change for the better as a result of implementing your solution and why, you’ll know how to communicate the value of your solution from their perspective using language that they can understand and relate to, instead of using marketing jargon and sales-speak.

This insight will enable you to demonstrate to buyers that you truly understand their pain points and needs, so you’ll earn buyers’ trust before your competitors.

3. What causes some buyers to eliminate your solution from consideration, and why?

Buyers often hold biased views about a topic related to your solution category or false notions about your company or solution that would cause them to eliminate you from consideration. Your sales team may be aware of the objections that buyers known to your organization have. But what about buyers who never contacted your organization in the first place?

When you know what real or perceived barriers would prevent buyers  - both known and unknown to you – from short-listing you for evaluation and why, you can then be more proactive. You can publish thought leadership pieces aimed at correcting misconceptions that buyers have or explaining why your particular approach to solving a problem is worth investigating.

Moreover, you have an opportunity to change the biases that would buyers to favor your competitor’s solution.

4. What criteria do buyers use to evaluate and compare your solution with your competitors’ and why?

A  Harvard Business Review article said it best: “The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don’t need you the way they used to.” Like it or not, buyers are self-serving on the web. They’re identifying their requirements, determining the criteria they’ll use to select a vendor, and short-listing vendors and comparing solutions – all without speaking to a sales representative. “It’s turning many of our sales conversations into fulfillment conversations,” says one chief sales officer at a high tech company.

When you know the precise criteria that buyers use to make a purchasing decision, you can create a product web page on your website that makes it easy for buyers to determine that you have all the capabilities needed to ensure a successful implementation, thereby ensuring you make it on the buyer’s short-list.

The insights will also help your sales team to be better prepared for meetings with buyers, and create a more persuasive case for purchasing your solution instead of your competitor’s.

5. How do buyers learn about solution options and what resources do they trust to guide their decision and why? 

Many organizations focus their marketing and sales efforts on reaching the most senior-level executives from departments that would benefit most from their solutions. While these are the right stakeholders to persuade to make your solution a strategic priority, once they’ve committed to change and secured a budget, they are usually hands-off until the end of the buying process when they have to sign off on the final recommendation.  The bulk of the work is assigned to another more junior person. This is the person you should be trying to influence and focusing your efforts on.

When you interview the person who was responsible for researching solution options and making the final recommendation to the senior management team, you’ll discover what they did to learn about what solutions are available on the market and what resources they trusted to help them identify product requirements. You’ll also learn how they short-listed and eliminated vendors along the way, and why they recommended the solution that they did to their senior management team.

 These buyers will also tell you which other stakeholders were involved, what hurdles they had to overcome, and how you could have made their buying experience easier.

The bottom line: these insights will help you to make more confident decisions on how to reach and message buyers

When you interview buyers, you’ll know when and who to reach within the organization; what information they need to make their purchasing decision; how to persuade them to purchase your solution instead of your competition’s; and why your marketing and sales plan is the best course of action.

 To learn more about how you can capture these insights and be one step ahead of your competitors, click here

5 Rings of Buying Insight is a trademark of Buyer Persona Institute