Thursday, October 13, 2011

The B2B Summit Recap Part II: Do You Cultivate a Customer Mindset?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about “mindfulness” lately - more related to my personal life than professional.  But in fact, mindfulness has a place in business-to-business marketing.

At its most fundamental, mindfulness involves paying attention “on purpose” with a conscious direction of awareness.  Significantly different than simply being aware, a mindful mentality has purpose and focus.

A Mindful Focus on the Prospect
Last month’s MarketingSherpa B2B Summit offered a wonderful chance to meet and listen to Kristin Zhivago, a powerhouse marketing guru and author of several excellent books including “Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy.”

Zhivago advocates cultivating and maintaining a “customer mindset” or in other words, developing a mindful focus on the prospect.

Zhivago delivered an inspiring keynote on day two of the conference, which stressed the importance of aligning sales and marketing to the buying process. Essentially, she suggests a company reverse-engineer their recent successful sales, in order to manufacture new sales in quantity.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive
The process involves in-depth Interviews of customers and prospects to find out what their needs are, and the promises they want a company to keep. She then helps a company make and keep those promises with products, people, and processes.

Zhivago’s premise is powerful:  only a company’s customers can tell a company how they want to buy what the company sells.

There’s a lot more to her message, but the bottom-line is the importance of putting a mindful focus and awareness on the customer.

Roadmap to Revenue
The bulk of the book “Roadmap to Revenue” analyzes a customer’s buying stages, not a company’s selling stages (like that typical “sales funnel” everybody uses).  Zhivago  provides an overview of the buying cycle organized by levels of scrutiny a buyer gives a product or service (light; medium; heavy; intense).  She then delves into the marketing methods effective for each one.

It might be tempting to only read the buying process that applies to a particular scrutiny level, but be advised:  there are universal truths in each level.  

Scrutinizing Scrutiny
For example, a medium scrutiny seller can learn from light scrutiny techniques, and vice versa.  It is quite informative to read through each level and understand the marketing mix that applies to each one.

For those in the “intense scrutiny” buying cycle, Zhivago notes that referrals play a more significant role than in other categories.  The buyer decision is so important, with so much at stake, that the credibility of the referrer plays a greater part in the buyer’s decision to pursue a relationship with a specific vendor or company.

Zhivago then links this finding to an action:  she suggests building a database of satisfied customers who don’t mind being contacted by prospective customers, and keep track of how often their names are given out as a reference, so they don’t get “reference fatigue.”

The Power of Insight
Both Zhivago’s presentation at the conference, and her book, are a powerful reminder of the power and knowledge companies can glean from their happy customers.

In all, Zhivago has much to offer business-to-business marketers who are caught within their own four walls, guessing at what might motivate and inspired their prospects to buy.

Instead, she advocates paying attention “on purpose” to customers and prospects. A conscious "customer/prospect mindfulness' leads to positive business outcomes.

Learn More

No comments:

Post a Comment