3 tips for product launch marketing success (part 3)

The final article in the 3 tips for product launch marketing success series explores techniques you can use to discover the buying process without making the Sales team feel like you’re treading into their territory.

Successful marketing teams know that an understanding of the buying process is fundamental to product launch marketing success

Part 1 discussed the need to develop an empathetic understanding of buyers through the use of a tool called a buyer persona profile. In complex B2B sales we’re likely to encounter multiple buyers, each with their own set of problems and agendas. This requires multiple buyer persona profiles for each person that will influence a buying decision for your product or service.

Part 2 connected the buyer persona profile to the buying process, which is the missing component of many product launch marketing programs.

The sales team owns selling

Now I want to share some tips with you on how you can discover the buying process without freaking out the sales team. There’s a big turd you could step on without even realizing it. The selling process is the domain of the sales team. The moment you appear to be encroaching on that territory you are opening yourself up to a lot of unwanted attention from said sales team. They will be wary of your nosiness and could see it as a threat. And being that they are usually better connected to the CEO, they will win.

Buying process vs. selling process

Most likely you’ve been exposed to the concept of a company’s selling process. It’s the flow of steps that lead to a sale from the perspective of the salesperson. Sometimes the steps in a selling process are well defined and implemented in a sales force automation system (insert your favorite rant here). Other times it’s an informal process. Yet other times it’s completely ad hoc.

The buying process on the other hand represents the sequence of steps the buyer goes through to make a buying decision. It shows where each buyer persona gets involved in the process. If you think about how you buy a car for your family you’ll immediately connect that the way you want to buy a car isn’t in alignment with how the car salesman wants to sell it to you.

Discovering the buying process

There are three things you can do now to get you started on figuring out the buying process. These activities should be done together as part of an ongoing effort because buying processes change. Sometimes it’s because of a regulatory change and other times it’s because of the economy, for example.

Interview your top salespeople

Do this first. It’s a good way to get an understand of how your company sells and it gives you an opportunity to build bridges with the sales team. However, I want to leave you with a caveat shared by Mike Bosworth in his book CustomerCentric Selling. The top 10% of sales guys aren’t always capable of describing the selling process that makes them successful.

You are looking for patterns in the selling process across a number of interviews (avoid a single data point). When the pattern reveals itself you are ready to proceed to the next step.

Win/Loss analysis

At Pragmatic Institute we can’t say enough about the value of Win/Loss analysis as a tool to gain insights about what’s working and what’s not – products, buyers and marketing programs.

There are two important points about Win/Loss. The first is that the sales team shouldn’t do them. Period. They are too close to the sale and are not in a position to be objective. Second, it’s an open-ended interview, not a survey.

Win/Loss analysis reveals details about the buying process, which buyer personas are involved, and when they get engaged in the buying process.

Buyer persona research

In Part 1 you learned about the importance of building buyer persona profiles. As you conduct research on your buyer personas, you should regularly probe into how the buyer buys. What steps do they go through? Who approves the purchase? How long does this take in your company?

Connect marketing programs to the buying process

Now that you’ve developed your buyer persona profiles and have an understanding of the buying process, you have a blueprint for mapping marketing programs to each step in it. Instead of reacting to demands of the sales team for the sales tool du jour, you can systematically connect marketing programs to discrete steps in the buying process with a more focused approach that influences buyers at the right step at the right time.

Are you constantly reacting to the sales team’s request for one-off sales tools?

How much more power would your product launch marketing programs be if they were based on how the buyer buys?

David Daniels

David Daniels


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