B2B, Fear, Marketing, Product Management, Sales, Trust

In every relationship TRUST is a very big factor.

In a B2B situation , its an even bigger issue ,because the person who’s going to be your sponsor for whatever your product or service that you sell, cannot afford to fail.

The fear of failure in B2B environments is even bigger than when you deal with consumers. Any B2B environment whether corporate, government or semi government, all have multiple hierarchies involved.

So the person you deal with can’t afford to fail in front of her peers, in front of her boss and her boss can’t fail in front of her (the boss’) peers. The larger the organization the bigger the problem.

That’s one key reason why there’s so much inertia in making decisions in organizations. This inertia causes large organizations to fail in the long run, which is another story.

For a product manager or marketing manager or sales person, its not about how good your product or service is, its more about how much does the prospect TRUST you. Fear falls only when Trust increases.

If you can’t build the Trust, the prospect will go with the incumbent vendor or technology or partner because then at least people will not directly blame her for failure. There used to be a saying in IT circles ” No CIO got fired for choosing IBM” . IBM was the default standard at one time for information technology. They were more expensive than most, but still picked up business because they were trusted.

As a product or marketing person, your primary responsibility therefore is to figure out, how you can build trust around what you “sell”, that will ease the process of getting traction in the market. If you see some of my earlier posts, I have spoken about how education is one of the best forms of building trust.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Marketing versus Sales

B2B, Marketing, Sales, Trust

In a lot of companies there’s always a tug-of-war between sales and marketing. They are considered to be two independent functions.

My way of looking at it, is a little different. I have always considered marketing and sales as one consolidated function. Maybe this has to do with my predominant background in B2B rather than consumer.

As I look at it , the job of both the functions is to get a client for whatever you make. If that be the case, then a sales person’s job is to sell face to face and close a deal. Are you still with me. However a sales person has limited bandwidth.

Whenever you’re entering a new account, that customer will do business with you only when they trust you.

This where marketing comes in. It helps you build trust and creates the environment, so that the sales person is able to close more deals faster. So its like “canning” whatever the sales person does on a mass scale, without getting in front of the customer.

With marketing the advantage you get is that you can automate a lot of the tasks, which would not be possible with sales. This allows you to create non-linear growth for your company.

Now I am not sure, if large companies would look at it this way or consumer focused companies would look at it like this. However if you’re an emerging company in the B2B space, this kind of a model will give you both efficiency and effectiveness.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Branding – why it’s so important

B2B, Consistency, Trust

Today’s is going to be a short one. Most of my posts are generally less than a three minute read, but this one would be even shorter.

Today I had the opportunity to visit two luxury hotels in Delhi.

It is heartening to see that the travel and hospitality industry is coming back so strongly . This is one industry which employs so many people directly and indirectly.

What’s important to note is that both these hotels are 5 star properties. So they are not cheap by any standard, but still they are going full. One is an international brand, while the other is an Indian brand with an international presence.

My thinking is that people trust that these brands would be taking necessary precautions which unknown brands would not.

During tough times, the brands , that have built a strong relationship based on trust, get to grow their business. Brands are built by consistently delivering on what they promise.

Whether you are in B2B or B2C , consistently delivering on your promise gives long term dividends.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Making the customer a part of the solution

B2B, Customers, Trust

I read this statement many years back when I was starting out. I don’t remember who was the author. But he had given so many examples that I believed him and thought of trying it out.

Since then, one of the reasons for whatever success I have had in the B2B space, is because I always take the customer into confidence about the challenges that we have and then ask how we can find a solution.

In case of a delivery problem I tell the truth about where or how we are going to fail . After hearing the truth, the customer may initially fire me because the job is not done. But because she is a partner in the solution she then figures a way out.

Similarly if the customer trusts you because you have provided exceptional service in your earlier deals then you can use him to figure out a solution. This is especially useful when there are cost constraints. If you can have the customer advice you in building the solution which ensures that the key challenges are met, while non essential items are reduced to keep costs in control, gets you to win the deal.

In both the above cases , this is only feasible if the customer trusts you. When they trust you and then give you advice, they feel obligated to make your solution successful. The downside is, if you screw up then she will help you only till it does not impact her own reputation in the organization. If her reputation is put at stake because of the fact that you did not deliver, then she will drop you like a hot potato and ensure that she never ever works with you.

Robert Cialdini calls this the concept of Co-Creation. He even cites various data points from research, even from non B2B situations . So this is a universally applicable advice.

Try this and let me know your success or failure when using this idea, in the comments section below.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!