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I recently attended an excellent IT marketing conference, called Engage, that was hosted by IDG Enterprise. Joining me were dozens of directors and VPs of several leading Silicon Valley tech firms. About a half-dozen of these companies were current or former clients of Aventi Group.
During the one-day event, IDG imparted recent compelling research related to tech purchases. For example, depending upon company size, there are five to sixteen individuals involved in a major tech purchase. Influencers, Evaluators and Decision Makers span a dozen different personas including IT, LOB, C-Level, steering committees, architects, liaisons, and more. Yet even though a small army is involved, IT departments only spend 2.14 hours per week meeting with prospective vendors. That’s why sales reps need to be VERY prepared.
What are the critical factors these firms use when selecting strategic vendors? The number one factor is customer service and response time, but a close second is the “ability to understand my business goals and objectives.” This requires extensive industry research and content personalization.
During the panel session, which featured four CIOs (or equivalent) across several industries, I heard them say that cold calls or emails to decision makers is “oh so nineties.” They can’t and won’t respond, and instead depend upon influencers on their team to filter vendors. This is true even for existing vendors with new offerings. Also, they are not interested in generic “one size fits all” content or the typical “dozen value propositions that everyone uses” such as “cost-effective” or “lowers risks.” Instead, they want unique, personalized “thought leadership information” that “teaches us something new.” Most importantly, what “keeps them awake at night” are worries over things they don’t know. This is where a vendor can add the most value, by imparting “unrecognized risks” they weren’t aware of based on recent events and research.
One decision maker said something extremely relevant, which was echoed by the others on the panel: “Before I buy anything, I take it to the general managers of the relevant business units for approval, as they often cover the cost.” In short, they are internally “selling” many of the sixteen individuals involved in the decision. This underscores the need for sales reps to impart “unrecognized risks,” but in a way that’s simple and easy to remember.
The above information is vital as we explore the content portion of this conference. In this area, IDG again wowed us with some great research. For example, marketing’s top challenges are producing engaging content and producing it consistently. The “Buyer’s Journey” is still king, especially in matching the right content to the right part of the journey.
From the customer’s point of view, they want “reliable and accurate content” that’s not vendor-biased and most importantly, that’s personalized to them. This a tall order for any marketer, but when this can be achieved, IDG research shows that IT pros will engage with the content for a much longer amount of time. By the way, Aberdeen research also validates that personalized content increases lead conversion rates by over 36%.
On the vendor panel were execs from five leading tech firms. Three of these are Aventi Group clients, and all of the panelists offered keen insights. All expressed concerns about creating and delivering just-in-time content customers want and sales enablement tools that will empower sales teams to close deals faster.
During lunch, I had the privilege of meeting with several marketing execs who raised at least one eyebrow when I explained what we’ve rolled out over the past year with several of our clients. After years of hearing clients ask for the above “Holy Grail,” we finally found created a silver bullet. Actually, several silver bullets neatly packaged in a single silver revolver. Over a four-year period, we’ve field tested every element of our Lead Nurturing and Sales Enablement System across dozens of campaigns involving thousands of customers, field teams, and partner reps. Many clients have enjoyed a 2 to 4X increase in Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) to pipeline Opportunity conversion rates, 33% shorter sales cycles, and 50% lower closed sale costs. The best news? Now that we have this science down to a science, it’s actually easy to implement and very affordable.
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