The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 5 years ago

Bret Rachlin on How and Why B2B Buyers Buy


The number of people talking about how B2B buyers have changed and are more informed today are legion. The question now becomes how do you understand them, how do you connect with them, and what do you need to know in order to connect with them effectively to drive revenue growth and results.

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Today on the be tob revenue executive experience, we're talking about B to be buyers, what motivates them, how you can connect to them and how your organization, by understanding them, can drive greater returns. You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two one. Hello, everyone, I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today. Before we get started, I just want to remind everybody that we're looking for your feedback. If you could go to be tob REV exccom, you'll find a link to a feedback form. It says five dollar starbucks Gift Card. We'd like to collect your feedback on the show get a better idea of how it's going for you guys, what value you're getting from it, so we can continue to evolve the the show, in the episodes and the guests make sure that it's providing value for you. In exchange for your time, again, we'll send you a five dollar starbucks gift card. So just fill that out put your email in there. We're not going to use the email anything. We just want the feedback and your perspective, so I'll thank you in advance for taking the time to do that. Today we have the opportunity to speak with Brett Racklin. He is the CRRO chief revenue officer at KPI target and the topic today is how be to be buyers by there's a lot of conversation going on out there in the market place about why companies are struggling to connect to their buyers. You know, what's the key to selling value? What is it that makes it difficult for sales reps and organizations to truly understand what be tob buyers want and, more importantly, what can they do to get a better understanding to drive their sales and marketing initiatives? Brett was kind of enough to come on the show. We want to thank him for his time today to great conversation. Hope you guys enjoy it. Brett, thank you for taking the time and coming on the show today. Looking forward to introducing you to our listeners and I think the best place to start is probably just a little bit of a boy, your background and what's going on at KPI target, what you guys do, and then from there we'll roll into and talk about B to be buying share. Chad. Thanks, I'm really happy to be here and look forward to a very entertaining conversation. This is certainly one of my one of my favorite topics talking about kind of how buyers by. I Love I love discussing this. But little background about me. You know, I've spent the majority of my career, really to pass a little over two decades, focused primarily on working with be tob and tech companies and helping them grow. Start off my career more on the public relations side and did a lot of media relations and annalyster relations, working with the gardeners and the forests of the world in the late s when the tech boom really kicked off in earnest. Unfortunately, obviously, therever some challenges with thecom implosion around two thou two thousand and one, I guess. Fortunately for me, I had then moved on to a software company where I did product marketing and then ultimately led that led me to run marketing for a video surmounts and access control to Company for eight years. And my role really focused more on lead generation, much more than the market awareness that I've been doing prior to that. And so for the past few years I've been consulting and recently joined with KPI target, which is run by microw and to really help our clients do the deliver marketing qualified leads and help them convert that to opportunities to close business. Mike had been a partner of mine where we were doing a lot of digital marketing activities like Seo and paper click, as well as email marketing and social selling, and I was kind of heading up to strategy and for those those clients and that are combined efforts focused around how buyers, by developing the messaging and positioning it's going to resonate and then helping them go to market with the right marketing sales approach that's going to engage their prospects and... close more business. We found was more powerful together to a part well in the concept of BB buyers and understanding your buyers. It's one that any any of us to do this for a living. We see companies struggle with it consistently. Sometimes they're large enough that they're getting in their own way because I think because they can't seem to kind of step outside of themselves. But it's this constant how do I better understand in my you know, my buyers. So I'm really curious to hear can your perspective on that and what approaches you found to be the most effective? Well, you know, it's it's interesting is is that back in back in the S, when we used to do a lot of messaging sessions, we would get together with our clients and we would do some research around their know their target market and we would listen to them. But we really at that time, and maybe this was due to budgets, we didn't spend a lot of time actually talking directly to the customers or the bought target buyers or the or the influencers in the in the deals, and it was just generally accepted it. That's the way things were done. And it's sometime in the in the mid two thousands certainly, the trend started the focus around really talking with your buyers and having these kind of qualitative conversations. You could always do, I think we always recommend doing some quantitative commerce research to but the qualitative ones are ones where you get all the anecdotes that really dig into how they buy. And you know, first off, in terms of how you go about it, everybody's really connected with their target buyers, companies, you know, especially sales people, but certainly the organizations themselves. They already have customers. There's a lot of people that they can go ask these questions to, but they're often afraid to have the conversations. They think that sometimes they won't engage, it's a waste of time. But what we found that really works is is that, first of all, you just asked them. Usually people are going to say yes. I mean that's, you know, the the first thing, but the second thing is is that is especially if you have a third party. Do it. It there. It takes away this is not a sales call, this is a this is a call or an interview where you are spending some time with someone to really understand their perspective. And when you make it about someone else, about themselves, people really like to talk about themselves and and it we really find that we attract individuals to be able to do that. And we're talking typically a thirty minute call. And even though I'm from Philadelphia and have grown up, you know, kind of being a little bit cynical. Coming from that area, you know, people are generally nice. It's a it's I we rarely get turned down for these interviews because it's positioned that ultimately, if they help us by giving us this information and telling us how they buy, our promises is we're not going to try and sell you on this call and our communications should really be better to you and the other buyers out there over time, because we should learn from what you're saying and they they tend to appreciate that. And so when you when you engage with those types of interviews, is it typically your clients asking you to go out and do that and they're setting you up with, you know, these accounts that we want or these accounts that we lost or these customers that we've had for a long time? Where are you suggesting? Here's kind of the spread of people, you know we really should go talk to so that we get a nice cross section to aggregate into some type of you know, buy our persona or something. Yep, well, more often it's it's our suggestion. I mean it's amazing. The clients really are not coming to us with this. Usually are coming to us with a different problem. We are either, you know, we're experiencing some challenges in with our marketing and sales efforts. We're not getting people to return our calls or emails. There's some sort of barrier that's going on. Or, on the positive side, we may be entering a new market, we may be launching a new product in a existing market or a new market. So there's there are but it's rare that we get it on the positive side. Usually there's a problem and they want to figure out they want to fix their messaging and and so if they're going to fix our messaging,...'s usually us who's recommending. Well, you know, tell us a little bit about your buyers. What are your buy our personas and and Bire percentage are often done at the surface level. You know, the typical buyer for a, you know, is a CFO who is often male, thirty five to fifty five, with this type of education, probably has an MBA. That's just baseline. We get it. We get into the kind of the and we can talk about this more on the call, but we get into really how do they make the decisions to buy these types of products or services? What triggers them to look for them in the first place. What information resources do they trust? So we're coming to them and recommending that, you know, we want to, you know, talk to really as many buyers as possible. Usually it starts off with a minimum of five, because they don't have a lot of time and they worry about it, and so we get them agree to do, let's do five interviews, and what we've done is to say we prepare a communication for them to use with their existing customers and prospects and we prefer, you know, to talk to prospects or companies that they've lost as well. At that has really note. Makes no difference to us. A buyer is a buyer. It doesn't matter if they want or lost to deal doing win loss analysis is a different, different set of questions, also highly valuable, but serves a different purpose. It's an interesting perspective, right, buyers a buyer, whether you get them or not, because a lot of customers, you know, and even when I was running, you know, sales and marketing groups and we had an outside firm doing the wind last I, as the as the guy who is responsible for the revenue, was much more interested to hear why we had lost. I wanted to understand the buyer and what their motivators were and the by. It's always interesting when you go to a buyer like a client that you've lost. You said, Hey, would you be willing to jump on the phone with with Brett for me for thirty minutes and just be honest? There's this there's this pregnant pause and they're like, are you trying to trap me? But once they get on the phone with you know, guys like you, then they definitely open up some of the most valuable information I've ever seen. I just don't understand why more companies don't embrace that as kind of a standard practice. I think it's I think there's some a bit of fear and but it's also, I think, somewhat have an accountability issue to marketing, for example, is being held accountable more and more, and rightfully so, for contribution to revenue. You and marketing. In fact, one of my favorite sales people I work with used to constantly joke with me about how marketing was only about, you know, making pretty pictures and this is yeah, well after, well after, he should have been doing that, but but it was. But it's true. I mean that's the way marketing was perceived for a long time and marketing was not held accountable, and so there are still a lot of organizations out there where marketing and even sometimes sales, depending on as and I'm sure you see this with your customers, that sales is not being held accountable either. And so when you think about having the conversations with your target buyers as well as your target influencers, especially these complex deals where you have multiple individuals in inside your prospect that are influencing and deciding how they're going to choose you or someone else, is either that or only win loss analysis side. Do they really want to know why they lost, because it could might be having to look in the mirror at some point and that's that's a tough thing to have happened. Yeah, we'd always when we get the win loss analysis, I'd always do a debrief with the rap or I'd have somebody else, if it was my account, have somebody sit down with me. And those can be painful, they can be really painful. But if you just have the you know, if you have the wherewithal to just take a moment, take a deep breath and realize is an opportunity to get better. I've seen people make serious strides and companies make serious strides in taking that feedback, internalizing and changing their behaviors into something that has ten to see the generate more results. Now at the corporate level we're talking about if you were doing a, you know, a large scale kind of campaign, that's one thing, but if a company's not doing that, how do you recommend the individual sales...

...reps that want to understand their buyers? How would you recommend they go about it if it's not something that organizations already doing? So that's a that's a great question, Chad, and the there's the best opportunity in from my standpoint on that, for a salesperson to be able to do it is oftentimes after day win a deal, and they could obviously do it after they lose a deal as well, but I think it's more likely when a salesperson wins there's obviously there's a sense of enjoyment, I think, on both sides. They've gotten this deal done. The customers ready to move forward. There might be a you know, a transfer from the salesperson to a customer success person, some strong on boarding that may go on. So before that transfer happens. Why not have the salesperson take some time and say hey, can we take thirty minutes? And you know, it means just go through some questions with you, because I want to, you know, I want to validate some of the things that maybe I learned through this process, but I also want to get some feedback from you about what did I do right and what? What? What? What could I have done better in the deail? So it's it would probably be structured a little bit differently from the questions we typically ask up front, but in terms of thinking about yeah, one of the things that's really important to me, I is market the terms marketing and sales. Marketing and sales are vendor terms. They are not buyer or customer terms. Buyers do not care about whether you're talking to a marketing or salesperson. They're looking to somebody to help them and usually that is some sort of communications. I prefer the term communications and if I think vendors start to think about how do we communicate with our target customers, are target buyers? How do we deliver value in those interactions, the conversation changes greatly and I think if a sales rep can get that kind of feedback from a bout, from their their customer. After, after a deal has been done, they're going to learn a lot more and how to go forward. Yeah, I agree it completely. I don't understand why. I mean, everybody's talking about value these days, right, but so few people seem to understand that it's not me, as a rep, showing up saying hey, these features and benefits and this part of my product is what's going to provide value. The concept of value isn't isn't yours, it's the buyers and if you can't figure out how to get there, you're not going to be able to connect to it. And one of the ways I've seen some reps do it. I see very I'll be honest, I've see very few do it, but I have seen some reps ask the customers where they've won, to kind of give them that feedback. Then you have to apply the happiness filter to it, right, they are, like you said, they all just one. They came up with a great deal, so you got to temper it a little bit. But those that have a tendency to seek that feedback or the most effective and again, it's one of those things that I wish I had a silver bullet, I probabably could retire if we came up with it, and actually a few and I come up with it on the show, then we'll both retire. But how do you write right reps? figure out like it's not to me. It's not a tough concept that and I'm wondering, and it work way off topic here, but I'm wondering. We've talked about fear a couple of times. I'm wondering the fear that I see in some sales reps around rejection or around really wanting to hear the truth. I'm just curious. Do you think that is inherent in the sales and marketing profession, like the fear that I don't get the message right or I don't I get rejected, or are our sales absolutely more exposing themselves more at I think I think that fear really does exist. I think right if you look at Linkedin with any regularity or twitter, but this is comes out on Linkedin, you've seen some of the shaming that goes on right away where people, which I'm actually working with a client right now where I'm kind of actually helping them do some business development as and and so I'm actually sending some emails to some contacts at kind of large health insurance companies and I'm trying to sort of navigate through and one of the questions I'm asking is is kind of can you, can you introduce me to the right person? I'm pretty sure the person I'm talking to is not...

...the right person to be having the the real conversation we're looking to have, but we've connected with them and I think that's a fair question to ask. But as I've been doing this, I've seen the fact that, you know, some people will shame that question out there, saying that, well, you should know, you should know who the right person is already. Well, that's not always easy, easy to do. And I'm a human being and they're human being and if we've connected in some way, why is it off limits to ask a question like that? And you you have to be willing to put yourself out there and I think that they're often is a lot of fear. It's just like a lot of ways it's about, you know, some much stage fright. If you're about to go you know, do your performance and you're an actor, you you're nervous before that performance as well. As you've been doing it all your career. It's the same thing if you're siming a new product or you're reaching out to a new prospect, you feel you risk that initial rejection and you have to test things out and you're not going to bat a thousand. So it's I think there's a lot of fear there and I think there's more risk in terms of our social media efforts, that you could be exposed for potentially making a, quote unquote, mistake when in reality that's fairly innocent. Remember when they used to say there's no such thing as a dumb question? I don't know the necessarily true anymore. Well, and then. And then you are expected, I agree. I mean you are expected to know a lot more about your target customer than you were. I mean the discovery you can ask the same discovery questions that you asked even two years ago. I do. I certainly things evolved, but but there are times where you do need to be able to ask questions. You need to be able to feel comfortable with that. This idea. Clearly, buyers have a lot more control in these complex be to be deals, but to say that buyers and buyers may do a lot more research on our own, but that doesn't mean that they are going through the buying cycle without interacting with a salesperson. They may be doing some research, but that doesn't mean they're going through the entire process without interacting with sales and that's why sales and marketing folks really need to think about how they're aligned from a communications perspective, because it doesn't matter who it's coming from, but as long as they're delivering the right content to that buyer at the right time in the buying cycle, that's all that matters. And you have to have a certain amount of humility and sharing of the turf among marketing and salespeople, and that adjust over time. So when you start with one thing, you have to recognize that it could change every time, which is why interviewing your buyers on a regular basis really should be a best practice. Now we haven't gotten there to convince everybody to usually we do it up front and then they don't do it as a regular practice. They probably should be. Do Imagine your board sets a target of twenty percent revenue growth in eighteen months, so something will have to change with your sales team. How do you beat your target? Value Prime solutions can help ensure your managers and reps are leveraging a sales framework that focuses on value, not price. Don't assume you have it all figured out. Don't wait until it's too late. Visit Value Prime Solutionscom and let them help. So we've talked about buying at at the company level and looked at the sales sideline, how the sales goes those talk about marketing for a second, the content that they produce. As we were prepping for the show, you mentioned that, you know, your big fan of content to differentiates and resonates when I've loved you to unpack that a little bit for our audience. Sure. So, first of all, be to be content, especially at the you know, especially at the beginning of the buying cycles, which, when you're trying to tract prospects to you, is is still too boring. Is the bottom line. It's I mean, companies are amazingly conservative, you know, when they when companies often will build a website. You know. I mean obviously all websites are responsive. Of course they're going to be responsive. They have to be because everybody we live in a mobile world. But they also all look the exact same too, and so you know everybody when you're...

...building a website. Our clients are always saying here the sites I like, here to sites I don't like, and that's fine to do, but you do it is important probably to think through how do I want to be portrayed out in the world? How can I be bolder with my message, with my communications, and to get somebody to turn their heads, because I think most vendors don't realize just how noisy it is. Vendors get very much tunnel vision around themselves and their immediate competition. What they feel to realize is that you are not competing just with your direct competition, you're competing with all the priorities that your buyer, target buyer, has. So if you're are ahead of all your competition, but you're the fourth priority, what are you going to do the raise urgency to become the first or second priority, to get them to turn their heads toward you? That's where you need to be a little bit more creative with your content. So and it does need to be a little bit more entertaining, and you're seeing a trend where more be to be content is becoming more be Toc like, because it's not company to company, it's person the person, and people respond to things that are interesting to them. So obviously you know a ton about your buyers. Within linkedin you can get obviously, things about where people went to school, what their interests are, what their charities are. You can use that information to create, you know, content that's inner personal directly to them. You can also create some more general content from a marketing perspective that relates to the issues that are available. That raising the issue of in certain with certain buyers that's going to be compelling to them is critical to be able to get their attention and it's just takes it takes some research and remembering that people, people are still people, even your even your buyers. Right. I had a conversation that day with Brian Kramer about his age to h book and we were talking and it's like be Toc and all of the changes that have been made in B Toc in the expectations of experience, and you know when the iphone came out and kind of changes the dynamic. All that's made its way into be to be. Not Because Bob's been looking for but because Bob is still people. So the bring that desire for that customer experise, that frictionless experience into the BB buying arena. And what I see a lot of is, you know, I spent the last tenors doing digital, digital interfaces, right. We did a lot of customer interviews, CX, all of that kind of stuff. I see sales reps just their eyes get really big. They're not there. Wait, wait, you want me to put personality in it, like like how much is how much is too much personality? Like how much of myself do I really let shine through? And I think it's a line that a lot of these sales and marketers and companies are struggling with. So, just out of curiosity, if you could give somebody guidance on, you know, making it more personal and how far? How far would you suggest they go? Or can you give us an example? Well, I do think you need to read the room and h each company is different in terms of you have to know your market. So, for example, you wouldn't show up to a client meeting or a prospect meeting wearing a certain type of clothing if it wasn't appropriate for that particular client. Now, some clients it would be appropriate to wear a suit. Okay, other clients that it's in itself. Wearing a suit could be offensive to them because they have a different brand and that's not what they would want to see from their sales rep coming in to meet with them. So you do have to read the room. I fall on the side that you need to insert your personality as much as possible. In fact, there's a woman named Sally Hogshead who has a company around called how to Fascinate, which is kind of the flip of the Myers Briggs. Myers breaks is how you see the world. How to fast sinate is how people see you and she has come up with this Uri a unique approach of how she identifies what fascinates people about you. And so her point is that we all have certain amount of strengths. We should be using those strengths and part of that strength is our personality. So from a sales perspective, our...

...personality should clearly be involved. I think from a marketing perspective you would probably be using more of that personality again to attract people. I think you can be a little bit more businesslike once you're in the deal engaging with them. I think that where the personality comes in later in the deal when you're further through the buying cycle. Is when you have to re engage and get them to come back. I mean, as you know, marketing qualified leads are often handed the salespeople and sometimes they'll call them and they'll they won't get a return to call and they'll say, oh, that's it, that wasn't really a marketing qualified lead. The lead will kind of get lost, they won't go back in the nurture and that in the wipe their hands of it. Well, that marketing qualified lead is based on criteria that you've kind of defined as this is the criteria that defines that that lead stage. And just because you define it that way doesn't mean that the salesperson isn't going to have to work to get them to engage. And that's where personality comes in. You have to be able to differentiate and you have to find a way to relate to them and people again, I think, I think the risk is much smaller than people think it is in terms of showing that personality. Now, that doesn't mean you're never going to offend somebody, you're never going to upset someone, but I'd rather I'd rather do that thing, have crickets and not have anybody responding to me? Well, you know, it's that is if you if you don't put your personality is, let's say it's a beautby sale, it's a long sale cycle and then you have an engagement that's longer and you're going to be involved with this client at some point your personality is going to come out. And if you don't, if you don't include it up front, do you really want to? I mean if you offend them, do you really want to be spending the next two years working with that client? Right, it's for you, is going to be horrible a and for them. That's right, that's right. Yeah, she have to wait. You have to really weigh your options on that and really again have to figure out how much you can use. But it you've but you can definitely take some chances there. I think too, if, depending on how it's set up. Like, I'm a very transparent person, so I especially when I'm selling, even to my clients, I they know that I'm being straight with them from the beginning. So when you get into the engagement and there could be problems, they know they can come back to me and they are going to get a straight answer of how we're going to fix it and and I think that's really important. Now sometimes that transparency can come back to, you know, the bite me, because sometimes that's not appreciate it at certain times of communications. And have I probably lost opportunities or had negative interactions even with my own team members because that transparency. Probably, but you know that I'd rather be I'd rather overcommunicate than have someone expect think that I am keeping something from them. Yeah, without a doubt, I'm very much the same way. I would rather know where I'm at with somebody. I think it makes it better for them too write. I mean it's just everybody knows where you're at. There's none of this wasted energy on well, what did he really mean, or what happens if I go to him? It just creates too much wasted energy. In my opinion. It's better if everybody is just not it's an overused word and I'm a little it's probably almost a little bit too touchy feeling for me, quite frankly, but that authenticity. Everybody's talking about that authenticity. If you can't be authentic in the sales cycle now people buy from people you know, and the marketing people have to understand that too. And if you just can't do that and understand that, sometimes you're going to be looked at and said, yeah, I don't I don't want to do business with you the first time that happens. Well, man, that's painful. Oh wait, you don't like me, it's like. Now, just be realistic, you don't. Not Everybody's a match. Right, that's right, but it's that. But if you're a public speaker, if you're trying to create a speaking business, you are not going to be liked by everybody. If you try to be liked by everybody, will not have a successible, a successful speaking career because you are trying to be all things to all people and that means you stand for nothing. You have to stand for something, even if it's a not a divisive topic, but if it's it could be about something in terms of leaders it could be about leadership. And if you stand for a specific type of progressive leadership in terms of how your approach...

...and that goes against what's been done traditionally, you you are probably going to offend traditional people from that perspective, but that doesn't mean you're not going to be successful. Exactly excellent will perfect breath. This has been an absolute joy to have you on the show. If a listeners interested in talking more about these topics we touched on today, what's the best way to get in contact with you? Well, I have a couple ways. Obviously anyone can always call me. Yeah, I mind a few people because maybe because I'm to the will not to that own I do. I do. I think it's because I was used to do pr and I used to always appreciate when people answered my call. So I ninety nine percent of the time we'll answer the phone if I can. And my numbers, you know, six, seven eight, seven, seven, seven, three, one hundred and eighty seven. And then also people can certainly get ahold of me by email, which is Brett, which is b our et at KPI target. All One wordcom excellent. Again, I can't thank you enough for having you on the show. It's been great. I really appreciate it. Well, thanks so much, Chad. It's been it's been a pleasure and enjoyed it immensely excellent. All right, everyone that does it for this episode, please check out be to be REV exaccom show the episode with friends, families, Co workers and, if you like, what you've heard. Please do his favorite wrie a review on itunes. We do look at those reviews to make sure we're bringing on people that you guys want to hear from. Until next time, we have valued prime solutions with you all, nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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