In last week’s Data Byte, we talked about how customers make large purchases for their personal use. This week, we explore how customers research, engage with salespeople, and make the final decision when it comes to business purchases.
As you may imagine, there are some strong parallels between the way salespeople in B2B and B2C fields should go about engaging with customers. Customers want to converse over phone and email without the frustrations of being constant upselling.
That said, interesting things happen when you start looking at the data based on the customer’s age and job title. When it comes to what kind of information is most persuasive to potential buyers, Millennials and top level executives want the same things: videos and professional, third party reviews.
Let’s dive in.
Using Phone and Email to Reach Your B2B Customers
The popular narrative about Millennials and Generation Y spins yarns about how it is this age group that does not want to communicate with other people. They text message their friends and families, send email invitations, and use the self-check out line at the grocery store.
And yet, based on our data, it is the youngest age group that prefers picking up the phone to any other demographic.
In short, don’t rely on what clickbait think pieces tell you. If your salespeople find themselves interacting often with younger people at a company, try scheduling a phone call. It may just seal the deal.
For every other demographic, email is by far the preferred method of contact. There’s good reason for this. Email is simply more convenient and, often, a more efficient way for busy business people to connect with your sales team, especially if there are only a few questions.
We also suspect that email exchanges cut down on extraneous up-selling, which was the number one pet peeve customers reported.
Of course, your customers may buck these trends. It’s always best to ask your audience directly to see what they prefer. This way, you can design the most effective sales methods for your particular audience and products. By communicating with customers the way they want, you’ll be able to connect and sell faster and more efficiently.
When it Comes to Persuasion, CEOs Look a Lot Like Millennials
As salespeople and marketers ourself, we’re always trying to stay one step ahead of our customers’ needs by providing them with the documentation and sales collateral they need to make an informed decisions about their purchase. We want our prospective customers to find exactly the product that fits their needs and budget – so that they’re just as happy as we are when the final sale is made.
But, we can’t help but wonder. What do our prospective customers really want from companies? What kind of things do they find the most helpful? So, we asked: When making a major business purchase, what kind of materials do you find most helpful?
We gave respondents the ability to choose up to three of the following options: Professional Product Review Sites, Video Product Reviews & Product Demos, Company Blogs & Infographics, Company Downloadable Content, and Individual Influencers/Reviews.
Responses varied widely when the data was segmented by age and again by professional level, which we expected. What we didn’t expect were the similarities between the responses from Millennials aged 25 to 34 and Top Level Executives. Take a look:
Professional product review sites take top marks for both of these demographics, and with the prevalence of respected third party reviewers and especially industry-specific review sites, it’s certainly no surprise.
The more interesting bite of data is the popularity of video for both of these demographics. Video reviews and taped product demos could be the missing ingredient in your sales team’s secret sauce.
It makes sense. Video is a way for people to take a tour of your product or service and really get a feel for features and quality without having to schedule a time consuming one-on-one, face-to-face demo with a sales person.
Don’t have a dedicated production team? Don’t panic yet. Video doesn’t have to be scary.
How to Start Making Quality Videos for Your Sales and Marketing Teams
To start working with video, all you really need is a camera, a microphone, editing software, and a well lit space. Oh, and someone who is willing to do a lot of Googling as they learn how best to use the hardware and software.
Technically, if you’re showing off a software application, you don’t even need a camera; in that case, all you need is recording software that allows you to video your screen as you navigate through the app.
Don’t have a fancy camera? Don’t worry. The quality of smartphone cameras has improved exponentially over the last few years. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Our Product Feedback Data Byte video was recorded with two cameras. One of which was an iPhone 6s.
Can you tell the difference?
Our videographer spent extra time color correcting the two different cameras, but when he was done, the color quality is almost seamless.
Slowly, we’ve been adding to and updating our video production equipment as we dial in what works for us. Currently, we use a Canon 7D and a Zoom audio recorder. Our set is a roll of blue or gray paper with a single bulb backlight and a beautiful (and incredibly bright) ring light.
Stock video and audio come from Videoblocks and Audioblocks, respectively.
And our feature videos that don’t include live action? We use Keynote.
If you look at some of our older videos, we definitely did not have as nice of things. That said, I’m sure that six months from now, our videos will look different, too, as we keep experimenting with what our customers respond to.
Telephones and Video Are the Future of Sales Success
Everything old is new again. We thought email and live chat would kill the telephone for good, but it turns out that for many customers, even millennials, nothing replaces picking up the phone and talking to a sales rep.
In between phone calls, however, video has become increasingly popular for busy top executives who want to get the feel for a product or service before they sign on the dotted line.
While this doesn’t mean that we’ll be replacing company blogs, white papers, and in-person demos anytime soon, diversifying your sales collateral will only help your sales team bring exactly the right resources to each potential customer.
Our advice is to experiment, test, and survey your audience regularly to keep on top of their needs. Your sales will only benefit.