The simple truth is that human beings make purchases, using emotions such as instinct and fit. We do it whether we are in the supermarket buying the weekly shopping and we do it when finding a provider to help solve our complex business problems. So why isn’t this simple truth better reflected in how service companies go to market? And does it even matter?
Given that my blog is entitled ‘Humans Buy Services. Honest’ let’s start with questioning why b2B marketers need to adapt their approaches. But first, I wonder why so many service providers don’t go the human route, but instead hide behind ‘corporate speak’ and impose their inconsequential structures on their buyers. Why do marketers join a company, and then loose the ability to behave and express themselves in an approachable, clear way and convince the board to do likewise. Is it because of bad habits, or that few people lead and most follow like sheep? Or it is simply that we don’t stand back and make the connection that the most powerful way to connect with our buyers is to focus on them and that although they have buying processes, a good part of why they choose us is irrational. It is about fit, feel, do they talk my language, can I access them easily. And will they make me look good?
I feel passionately that business customers deserve to be treated as human beings, and that means recognising bad habits of hiding behind old ways – using boring language, corporate attitudes and imposing structures – rather than tailoring to client needs. Instead it seems to me (especially in these days of smart technology and the power shifting to the buyer away from us) that we need to develop our programmes to reflect that business purchases are emotionally driven. Sure, there are differences between consumer and business sales, in that service sales are complex and buying often takes time, but the buyers themselves use their regular life skills, something that is something often forgotten in a business environment. This means adapting our marketing techniques and plans to reflect that people deal with people and want to do business with those who give them confidence in their skills to help.
So let’s consider why the concept of humans buying services matters now more than ever before. There are three reasons why we need to raise our game:
1. Competition – it is so tough to stand out especially in this social media world of messages bombarding us 24/7 and the advent of smart technology. Those who speak to buyers where they are and in a way that helps, really stand out. Everyone else does not
2. Buyers are increasingly tired of being treated like a machine, being sold the same stuff by everyone, in a way that is indistinct and imposed
3. The models often do not recognise me, my tastes, my wants, my psychology, my needs to be treated as an individual. They reflect the way the business is organised to provide services
The simple truth is that we are simple souls looking to find out what is on offer, from whom, how the service will help and how it compares with the service provided (unappealingly) from Mr Corporate Multinational Plc. As a buyer I want to converse with someone who shows they relate to me, who draws out the subtleties of my needs, who understands my business objectives and who can take what is on offer and tailor it to fit my psychology and my business objective. People who do this stand out from the crowd, so why aren’t there more of us doing it this way?
So what is the secret? I don’t have all the answers but am keen to have a conversation that helps b2b marketers figure out where next with business marketing. We need to learn how not to get bogged down in the complexity of our amazing businesses, or tempted to show off all that we know. Why is it more difficult to present an authentic human face to service businesses? Why do we fail to connect one on one? Is it because things get done by committee? So where do we go from here? In a future post we will look at some techniques of making an emotional connection in business relationships by signposting, using language and expressing personality.