There seems to be a long held tradition in B2B marketing, especially in the Telecom and IT space, to be as boring as possible. What I see most frequently in the market is a very stiff, feature-advantage-benefit oriented approach to messaging. I think it’s byproduct of so many years of selling on features, “speeds and feeds”, and “bits and bytes”. When you’re engaging with a customer in the sales process, they are comparing the technical specifications of your solutions to others because that’s the behavior we have trained them to have. In fact, the fundamental business model of a partner is often to prepare multiple quotes and show a comparison to the customer and, aside from price, that comparison often boils down to features, functionality, and specs. Maybe that’s been working fine for you, why approach your brand message any differently?
Because your customers have changed, and so has your market. Your usual buyers like CIOs and CTOs have become responsible for a suite of applications and services that are the very lifeblood of the organization, more than ever in history. Their internal stakeholders are more educated on tech and they demand network design and performance that keeps them connected and enables their business activities. Everything is mission critical. It’s nearly impossible for these decision makers to stay ahead of the technology curve and have a mastery of the increasingly wider breadth of technology.
And that’s just when you’re still dealing with the IT department. More and more partners find themselves coming into deals via Line of Business (LoB) stakeholders who are trying to solve a problem for their department with technology. These LoB stakeholders can often be be less concerned about the kind of specs you are used to selling on and more concerned about how well your solution will solve their problem. And, more often than not, the problem they want to solve is a very human-centered one. For example, a Finance department buying a SaaS based invoice management tool may be more concerned about how the usability, user experience, and ability to customize their workflows of your solutions meets their specific wants and needs more than they are interested in comparing the full list of features and functionality to that of your competitors.
Allow me to state the obvious; there are humans making these purchase decisions that have responsibilities and stakeholders to answer to. There are a whole range of human emotions tied to their ability to meet their stakeholders’ expectations. Tapping into and addressing those emotions can not only differentiate you but make it easier to get in the door and close the deal. This should be natural to you, because I’m willing to bet when you’re face-to-face selling you almost always tie your solution back to a benefit that has is human-centered. For example:
- You’re not selling a telecom audit and inventory management; you’re cleaning up a time consuming and frustrating mess.
- You’re not selling a WAN to a hospital network; you’re improving patient care by enabling access to important resources.
- You’re not selling CCaaS to a business; you’re creating customer loyalty by enabling a better experience when customers need to interact with them.
- You’re not selling AWS spot instances on servers in the cloud; you’re empowering software developers to innovate on their own time and schedule.
- You’re not selling collaboration tools; you’re giving parents the ability work from home so they can be there for their kids.
- You’re not selling backup cable circuits to retail; you’re making sure that the network manager doesn’t have to worry about getting fired because a location couldn’t ring sales on Black Friday.
These are just some examples of the human side of what we sell. When developing your brand, be sure to focus on that human side and relate what you do and how you do it in terms that will connect your customers with you emotionally and make them feel like they can count on you to make them feel great about their decision to work with you.
If you want to learn how to inject some emotion into your brand and other tips about branding for partners, join us for our session at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas!
The Transformational Power of a Compelling Brand
Tuesday, 17 April 2018
2:50 PM – 3:50 PM
Level 4 | Conference Room Lando 4301A