The question on many of our minds is how do you change the discussion with your prospects in this challenging business environment?
In the March 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review, the article In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers takes a page out of the classic buyer persuasion playbook.
In the article by Philip Lay, Todd Hewlin, and Geoffrey Moore, the authors recommend developing a provocative point on a critical customer issue. In other words, they are starting by looking at the buyer's business.
We in marketing and sales ought to know a lot about our buyer's businesses. Like good consultants, we should be paying attention to the little things we learn about their business. If we are paying attention, we can take this intelligence and obtain insight into our buyer's business that even the buyer doesn't have.
In buyer persuasion, we take that insight and turn it into a secret weapon in our marketing and sales processes. We know that by satisfying the buyer's strongest motivations, we can more effectively direct the sale.
This article takes this one step further and suggests that we take this insight and create compelling products based on it. In the situations cited in the article, the company that recognized the provocation didn't leave the solution up to the buyer. They took the initiative and the risk and developed a response (think product) to the provocation. Then they sold it to the buyer.
So, what did the provocation do for the seller?
It created a unique, high-value opportunity to sell a solution for a costly strategic problem.
It compelled project investment outside of the buyer's existing budget.
And how did the seller do this?
By building a customized, persuasive business case that the buyer could not turn down, even in this tough business environment.
Two thoughts to consider:
What is the true value of the buyer intelligence we have floating around our organizations?
Why we aren't doing this provocative buyer persuasion all of the time?