Influencing IT: Keeping Pace to Make Sales
Posted by Erica Bell on September 23, 2013 in Sales 2.0 [ 0 Comments ]
Are you selling software designed to make a website run and load faster? What about a content management system that helps small and medium-sized businesses better manage all their site content, including copy, images and videos? If you’re selling a technical product, you better be paying attention to who exactly you are selling to. Selling to tech-savvy business buyers isn’t easy. Often times, they are well aware of the features and tech specs they need to fully utilize a product. Where some businesses fall short in reach technical buyers is not providing these managers and team members with the information they’re after or when they need. We hear and read about content marketing to consumers on a regular basis, but what about content marketing for technical buyers?
The Technical Timeline
Reaching buyers when they’re beginning to evaluate and research products for purchase is must. While many marketing cycles are geared towards a 12 month process, technical buyers have actually shortened their buying cycle. Over the last two years, TechTarget has observed that the length of time IT buyers are identifying a problem, researching competitive solutions and providers, and making their final decision has shrunk from 12 to 6 months. If you haven’t already, you need to refine your sales-marketing funnel to meet these timeline constraints.
Not only do many sellers need to shorten their cycle to match that of buyers, they need to be ready to meet buyers at multiple stages and multiple times. Study findings have shown that IT buyers need to have as many as six interactions during the buy cycle with vendor-content and messaging to consider that vendor for their short-list. This stresses the need to provide the best and most helpful content quickly and often.
Do you actually know who is making the decisions? You may have insight into one or two decision-makers within a company, but the truth is that 96% of decision-making teams feature more than 1 person and 51% with more than 4 people. Do you know who these 4 people are? Senior IT managers may have the final say and be responsible for budget setting, but the majority (65%) of decision-making for specific products or services is done at the IT manager and staff level. When producing content, don’t just focus on developing marketing materials for the CTO, deliver content that will resonate with managers and staff as well. Remember, it isn’t just the senior-level technical managers that will be using a product so they often aim to gain insight from those on the front-lines before making a purchase.
Sources and Types of IT Information
We all know by now that buyers want information that will help aid them in their decision. This can include pricing information, a comprehensive list of product specifications and face-to-face discussions. Where buyers are searching for information often depends on where they are in the purchase process.
- Discovery: When IT buyers are in the discovery phase, they’ll often turn to their peers, IT publisher sites and even IT vendor sites.
- Education: Similar to those in the discovery phase, buyers who are looking to educate themselves further will turn to their peers. They’ll also tune into tech-related communities.
- Purchase: Again, peer advice is a key source for information. Face-to-face interactions and IT vendor sites are other ways in which buyers will seek information as they near a purchase.
Now that you know where to deliver information, what about the types of content that IT buyers want most at each stage?
- Discovery: Those just beginning to become aware of what’s available want whitepapers, product literature, case studies and vendor comparisons as they narrow down providers for consideration.
- Education: When aiming to learn more about something they are well aware of, buyers turn to vendor comparison information more heavily as well as case studies, whitepapers and product trials.
- Purchase: When a decision is coming to a close, IT buyers want product trials and more information about the differences in providers and products.
Making sales to a technical buyer isn’t easy. However, by aligning your marketing and sales efforts with the purchase process of this audience can help aid your team in their ability to close sales. Deliver the content the buyers want during each stage to where they look to find it at that same stage. Not only that, focus on driving the decision to a close by delivering content and information to all members of a technical team, not just the CTO or IT Team Manager.