“We have to change the language we’re using to speak to decision-makers,” says Simon Walker. “The tech buyer has changed. For the last thirty years, the technology industry predominantly sold hardware to technical people. But that paradigm has shifted with the prevalence of SaaS and technology moving from hardware to the cloud, which means that everyone in a business can now be a technology buyer.”
Walker, the CEO and founder of Proposition, an integrated marketing agency based in Auckland, New Zealand, thinks many tech companies still haven’t caught up with that change, and, as a result, their marketing and sales teams aren’t speaking the language of the new buyer in their marketing campaigns.
“Often tech companies still want to talk about their products in terms of how they work and all of the whiz-bang features to an audience who doesn’t really care about how the technology works,” he says—they’re interested in how your product is going to make their work easier and solve their problems. “You need to appeal to their emotions; the problems they have, and make sure they’re comfortable they're being understood and the brand speaks to them."
Understanding the changing technology buyer
The changing buyer is reflected in the changing buying process, says Walker—the majority of which now takes place before a prospect even engages with a salesperson. Walker cites a study of enterprise technology buyers and the buying process by Gartner.
“They found that there's absolutely no linearity between the stages of the process that people take. So while we love at a sales and marketing level to create lovely linear flow charts that every prospect follows, but that’s just not accurate anymore. Every buying journey is different now—it’s more of a ‘choose your own adventure’.”
Marketing and sales teams must understand and accept that, nowadays, they ultimately have no control over the journey their prospects take. Instead, says Walker, “you have to really work on understanding your buyer, what they want, how they want to engage with you, and being comfortable with them controlling the process.”
Crafting messaging that resonates beyond the technology
Ultimately, this has placed increased emphasis on messaging and driving awareness, and finding a way to resonate with buyers before they engage with you and "connect with the new buyer," says Walker.
Mapping out the customer journey is one way that marketers can identify areas in which they can incorporate messaging throughout their marketing campaigns that appeal to their prospects' emotions. Ultimately, adapting their messaging throughout the customer journey is the only way that businesses will be able to be competitive in an increasingly competitive operating environment, says Walker. "We have to build messages that resonate beyond the technology, otherwise buying just becomes a price procurement decision.”
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