The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 4 months ago

Why Marketers Fail at Thinking Like Buyers w/ Mike Pastore

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Let’s speed up time a bit: It’s summer 2022. You’re headed to your first in-person B2B Marketing conference since way back when — and you’re a bit rusty at navigating event complexes. As a result, you’ve gotten yourself good and lost.

The first person you ask for directions starts screaming something that sounds like trigonometry at you. He’s soon joined by another helpful human who bellows calculus at you. Then, an opera singer with a bullhorn offers her assistance in a piercing Bavarian falsetto. Suddenly, you realize: These must be B2B marketers and you must be in the right place after all.

Today, I’m joined by Mike Pastore, Director of Custom Content at Technology Advice and host of the B2B Nation podcast, who shares how marketers can better understand the B2B buyers’ journey and help guide buyers along the way — without merely trying to shout over the noise.

Join us as we discuss:

  • The nonlinear nature of the buyers’ journey
  • Why reaching buyers is about simplifying complexity
  • The power of storytelling and thinking like a buyer

Now that you know how to navigate the B2B buyers’ journey, are you ready to use data to prevent revenue leaks in your business or learn how to build trust and confidence with your content strategy? Check out the full list of episodes: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

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. Welcome everyone to the be toby revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about the BEDB buyers journey, how it's changed, the way that impacts marketing and why it's so difficult for be to be marketing organizations to think like buyers. To help us, we have with this Mike Pasttor, content strategist, a technology advice and host of the Beeb Nation podcast. Mike, Thank you for your time and welcome to the show. Oh thanks, Chad. I'm excited to be here. So we always like to start with kind of a random question for the audience to get to know you, and I'm always curious to know something that you may be passionate about that those that only know you through work might be surprised to learn about you. Oh, let's see. So I mean I've got a woodworking hobby. I'm on the Board of a nonprofit that supports our local elementary school. I've got a couple of elementary school kids. But the thing that I bring up from time to time if people that really gets them interested is that my wife and I and our kids as they get older, make our own maple syrup. And most of my team and colleagues actually know this. But technology advice has grown quickly and growing from the US and internationally in the past year and our us, our headquarters is in Nashville, Tennessee, we got a lot of people moving Kentucky, both great cities but not hot beds of Maple Syrup production. No Ice Breaking Events and I'm get to know you calls over the past couple of years. I bring up the Maple Syrup thing and people go I love Maple Syrup. How exactly do you make it? That's got to be a great pastime for the family. Though it is it's a it's a great thing to do in winter.

I'm in New England. Winters can be a little long, little dark and it's a good way to kill a Saturday or a Sunday when the temps are called outside, is watch the maple syrup boil. So my challenge that I'm giving myself today's to see if I can work Maple Syrup into our discussion somehow. All right, well, let's see if we can do it, and let's start with talking about the buyers journey and why it's so important for organizations to really understand it and get inside it. Yeah, so you're the buyers journey, of course, is the steps that people take to make a purchase with your organization. And there are some things about the bee to be buyers journey, especially be to be tech, that we need to dispel right away. One is there is no monolithic be to be buyers journey. People talk about it like it's something you can go and see, like it's in a museum or at Disney world. To be buyers journey perfect example that take an application like zoom. Over the past year and a half or so, thousands and thousands of people have gone to zoom and paid fifteen dollars and gotten the one that lets you have longer meetings with more people. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have a BB buyers journey for like these complicated cloud infrastructure things like multinational financial services with a lot of compliance regulations and Geo fencing and all the stuff they need to take into consideration. Both of those purchases come at the end of a be tob buyers journey, but they are radically, radically different. And the other thing I think we need to think about is that it's not linear. We see funnels and journey maps and paths on slides and things like that, and it's this fairly straight line. It's also it's not just one person doing it, of course too, so we got to think about that. Gardner tried to depict this in something that became called the spaghetti chart and it had a kind of this chart remember every possible thing that could go wrong and clog up a BB buying process, and it looked like one of those mazes my kids like to do where you have to get the mouse to the cheese. I think a lot of marketers understand that it's more complex than we can dry. I think work it's tricky is that...

...marketing isn't done in a vacuum. You've got CEOS and CFOs, maybe old school, and their thoughts on marketing. Maybe their KPI's aren't something people are using a lot today. Maybe they've invested in real time analytics and want real time results. So realistically, some of these journeys take some time. So there's a disconnect right off the bat for a lot of people that the reality of B tob buying today and what some of their leaders expect might be a little out of whack. And so when we look at it today, I mean now we're talking about a journey, you know, wildly different journeys, as you mentioned. Has It changed or has it evolved from what it was, say, ten years ago, and has it even gotten more complex because of covid and the things that we've seen like are there's some areas we could point out where we could highlight from marketers and sales people. Hey, this is this may be what you're used to with. This is the reality today. Yeah, it's a good question. Over the past ten years I'd say it's gotten incredibly complex. If you look at the work that Scott brinker has done. Scott Brinker, if you don't know, it's kind of the godfather of MARTEC, the marketing applications that marketers use, a lot of the SASS based APPS. So Scott does a census every now and then of the MARTEC landscape from two thousand and nineteen to two thousand and twenty. His count went from six thousand products to eight thousand products. Now you don't need all of them. If you're shopping for email marketing software, that's a subset of the eight thousand. It's still a lot of shopping to do and a lot of research to do. Going hand in hand with the complexity is risk. Okay, you see that. It went from six thousand eight thousand. Added two thousand vendors in a year, but at that same year six hundred vendors disappeared from the MARKTECH space entirely, from going out of business to being acquired. Somebody once said the difference between be tob and btcs people are ending other people's money. So when you screw up with your money, it affects you. You're out two thousand dollars and you think, you know, gee, maybe that guy wasn't a prince from Nigeria after all. So it's a noisy market.

It's a there's risk involved. Buyers are getting bombarded with messages pretty much everywhere they go on the web, email, social media, bb marketing is become, in some ways, kind of this crazy open air market with sellers just hawking their wares everywhere. So it's gotten complicated, it's gotten risky, it's gotten noisy. HAS COVID impacted it? I don't I don't know. It disrupted a lot of buyers journeys because what they bought changed. You saw a lot of people suddenly buying remote access tools, online event platforms, collaboration tools. One of the I think the most memorable conversation that I had related to the pandemic was with a guy who let a sales team at a big, big it vendor, household name, and they spent a lot of other time selling what you might think of as the plumbing of it, servers, cables, power and cooling stuff for data centers. And one day that just stopped because no one's going to go into the data center and no manager was going to tell you get to other people and go into the data center where it's tightly spaced and you can't social distance and change these cables. And instead he told me what we were selling his carts. We can't keep carts and stock. I'm like, carts. Hospitals were using carts to move equipment from room to room, schools were using carts. At my kids school, the art teacher didn't have a room anymore that he hadn't shed an art cart so that they could keep the kids in one place, not mixed kids, and she could bring the lesson to them. And so these guys went from selling servers and power and cooling and cables and all this other stuff to carts. Interesting. And so when when you have those types of changes, and we can focus on the evolution over the last ten years or on Covid or just anything in between, but when you have those changes, because it is a rapidly changing market and you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, let alone and three or four weeks or a month, how does marketing have to compensate...

...or how should they better think about staying in touch with that buyers journey and understanding that it is fluid? Like how are they supposed to set up there their processes, in their their approaches or their metrics, you know, the things that we can help marketing and sales people understand about the new fluidity. Let's say. Yeah, it's a good question. In short, when it comes to marketing, you can't scream what everyone else is screaming and it's unwanted trying out scream everyone else, because then you add to the noise and complexity. You're probably in a lot of cases better search by helping buyers navigate the complexity. And there's this concept of buyer enablement out there. I think maybe carry Cunningham brought this up and he was on your show, but it kind of came out of like Gartner and forester, and it says that people know what to buy. Their problem is like how to buy it, and that's where they get stuck. More than three quarters of buyers told Gardner their last be to be purchase decision, which just to darn complex. So I think the first thing you have to do is ask yourself, are you helping these people out and providing value, or are you adding to that noise and complexity we just discussed? And there's another part of the equation here that really gets discussed, but it's important to a content person like me, and that's how and where you meet your buyers. Just like we said, there's no monolithic buyers journey, there's no monolithic buyer. So right, you talk about buying committees. That's somewhere in the area of six to ten people, depending on the company and what they're thinking about buying. They all have different preferences around the type of content they consume and how they consume it. So you need to think about that and be thoughtful about your message, because how do you convey your information to somebody who just flat out doesn't read pdf papers or doesn't attend webinars? And if you don't take steps to make sure your message is hitting all those people and taking all their preferences into account, you're really leaving people behind. So maybe that person who won't attend to Webinar would listen to...

...it in a podcast format, if it was audio that they could just listen to. So are you doing that as something marketer should be asking? Are you making sure that your content, in your message is available to all these people, however, as they like to consume information? And so how difficult? Why, I'd say why? Why is it so difficult for companies to think like buyers? But I remember, you know, ten men as a ten years ago, when I was working for a digital agencies, we were doing, you know, by our journey maps and friction point analysis and and all that kind of stuff. But as I as I think through it. I don't know that we were ever truly thinking about it like a buyer and I'm curious why that is so difficult. Maybe what companies can do to become more focused on that. Yeah, this is the big question. I put this question into a marketer named Paul Fifield on our BEATYB nation podcast and I really liked his answer, so I've been basically using it while crediting him. A lot of baby tech companies are very product in tech focused and a lot of the founders are engineers, and he kind of get into that left brain right brain stuff like this is how they think. They want to tell you what their tech does and how it does it and how they made it. So what I have learned from Maple Syrup is that there are people out there who enjoy maple syrup and who don't care one bit about how it's made. So increasingly the number of tech buyers out there aren't tech people at all. Somewhere in the area of forty two fifty percent are what Gardner calls business technologists and their baseline tech understanding is higher than, say, the previous generation, because their digital natives. But you've got a noisy market where everybody's yelling about features and how products work, and you can't hang your head on that because then you sound like everybody else. So this is where I think your business storytelling comes in Handy, George Hammer used to be the chief content officer at IBM and I heard a podcast with George and I thought he's sum this up beautifully, and he said you have to make people care, and I think...

...you do that by combining your storytelling and thinking like a buyer, because if people don't care, you can't sell them anything. Yeah, and that's got to be a difficult challenge, especially when you're talking about the myriad of content channels, the myriad of voices you have to use. I mean it can create a bit of a challenge. If you had to, if you had to give marketers and organizations that are focused on that, like two things, two things that you think would be the most important for them to really embrace or do to make them be more buyer focused, more by aware, think like buyers. What would those two things be? So the first of the exactly what we just said, thinking like a buyer. Would you do the steps that you're asking people to do before they make a purchase and whether that's sign up for this or that, devote an hour to a Webinar, given all of these people have going on. I mean, is that how you buy like are? At what point do you do that? Right, your first touch from the vendor ass like twelve or thirteen questions and gets all this information. That's moving kind of quickly. Right. If you think about marketing, is building relationships. It's sort of like business dating and and I've been moving really fast. If you were doing that. The number one complain about dating and I haven't had the date in a long time, but it's always been like that. Person Talk Too much about themselves. So right, some lessons you can bring to marketing from dating. The second thing I would say is recognize that the buyer is in control now and that's not going to change. I think when Carrie Cunningham was on he had kind of mentioned that the buyer hasn't changed. I might challenge that assertion just a little bit. Think about it this way. In the consumer world, the way that we buy music has changed like three times in my lifetime. We bought it in various formats and brought it home, we downloaded it and now we stream it and I know people who don't remember at least one of those methods of procuring music. And these are the same people that are making bb purchase decisions now. The buyers took control of that market, that process for buying music, and...

...now they're doing it and be tob and that means that if you're not giving people what they want in terms of information and content and your interactions, they've got a whole list of alternatives they can go and explore. All right, so let's Pivo here a little bit and let's talk about technology advice. What does it come to do and how was your journey to wind up there? Yeah, so technology advice the full service be Tob Media Company and our focus is really on helping those bb tech buyers. We've been talking about that seventy percent that people say of the journey that's sort of done digitally without the help of salespeople, is done with us. Basically welish some of the most storied brands and BB tech media. That includes EEEK, Dada Nation and Tech Republic. We've got an award winning content team that I'm proud to be part of that this spence is trusted advice for these tech buyers, basically helping them make informed decisions like, out of the noise, what do I need to know before I make this investment? So we help them cut through that complexity and noise that we talked about. We do it in three main channels, which is phone, email and web, and then we take what we learn and the data that we collect from all these interactions and we use it to facilitate connections between beb tech vendors and the buyers. And so that helps us do is it helps us focus on getting vendors messages in front of people at the right place at the right time. So what you won't see, for example, on a technology device sight is a ton of flashing display ads and popups for our web properties right because we're focused on targeting the right message to the right person and not that sort of spray and pray type of marketing that's really not good for anybody. And I got here about two years ago, almost two years ago, when Ta acquired the bdb business of company called Quinn Street, and since then, like I said earlier, we've grown domestically and internationally, expanding internationally just in this past year. And the exciting thing is we're really just scratching the surface of what we can do with all of the information and data that we get from all these various engagements with buyers. Love it...

...awesome, right. So we ask all of our guests come to standard questions towards the end of each interview, and the first is simply you know, you're a prospect for a lot of people out there trying to sell something. Everybody seems to be these days, and I'm always curious when you don't have a trusted referral into you, somebody's not saying, Hey, you should talk to this person. What is it that you find works best for you when someone's trying to capture your attention and earn the right to time on your calendar? Yeah, I think the brand folks are going to love this, but it's familiarity with you as a seller or with your brand. I am just much more likely to give someone my attention if I've heard of one of those two things. And I could be a sucker from good creative but it doesn't mean that I'll act on it. I might just admire it from afar and say, hey, those are together. Yeah, I've got a database full of the hey, those are cool but not responded to. It's like I've mentioned recently with somebody. Were talking about old beer commercials and I, like, I can't connect the brands to the commercials right, like I know the commercial air, I know the less filling taste. Great. Ask me which beer it was. I couldn't tell you. Yeah, the only one I can remember is the frogs, the Budweiser frogs. That's really the only one. That's the only one I got, though I'm not even a beer drinker, so I can totally understand. For me, for me, it has a tendency to be that you know, show me, you know me. Show me you don't talk about you. I don't care. No offense to those people, but I don't really care. Like, tell me you know my problems, like, help me figure out you know. Show me you know, you've done some homework. All right. So last question. We call it the acceleration in sight. If there was one thing you could tell marketers, just one thing, one piece of advice that, if they listen to you, believe would help them achieve or exceed their goals, what would it be and why? Yeah, so there's this idea out there and I don't know that I'm a hundred percent on board with this, but I find that intriguing. That says we overfocus on needs when we talk to buyers and...

...that the real challenge a lot of be to be tech buyers are facing is change. And we brought a change of management guru named rob bog on to be to be nation to talk about how, if you understood change management, you could be a better marketer. The idea is basically this. We all recognize our needs right you hear people say I need to eat better or a need to exercise more, I need to get the oil changed in the car, but we don't really act on them until we reach some sort of inflection point. When you think about in tech how everything is connected these days, replace that one APP and it impacts one hundred other things that are managed by two hundred different people. A lot of those people are uncomfortable with change and they don't want your change to disrupt what they're doing. So if you can get an idea from your prospects of what exactly they're facing and how you can help them navigate these change issues, then it could open up a lot of opportunities for you. It's I he clear that blockage and see what happens. So I think thinking about what you're trying to sell. One APP. What does it mean down the line is incredibly important these days because everything is interconnected. So I would explore that, proud that idea with prospects. What does this mean for your organization? Okay, you want to buy one APP, but how many people is this going to disrupt and what can we do to ease that? And whether that's another product or service or that's connecting with someone, a customer who is in a similar situation and how did they do it and it worked out for them? But I would explore that because everybody knows their needs and it doesn't mean they're in a rush to fix those needs and address them right away. I love it my cavile listeners interested talking more about these topics, are learning more about technology advices. There a specific place you'd like us to send them? Yeah, linkedin. You can always connect with me on Linkedin if you're, you know, in the text base marketing space and looking for a job. Technology advice is always hiring. You could check out our career of page and we could always think about these things and go off on them in person and maybe have a little conversation, but I would say linkedin and check out the technology advice careers page if you want to get...

...to know me better. I love it. Thank you so much for taking time to be on the show today. It's been a pleasure chat all right, everybody that does it for this episode. You know, the drill be to be REV exactcom share with friends, family, Co workers and until next time. We value selling associates, which we 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 in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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