As any savvy marketer knows, growing business for the long term means creating enduring relationships with buyers.
At times, it’s possible to lose that simple truth when talking product specifications with IT buyers. There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to performance, security or compliance, and a technically sophisticated buyer will expect precision when it comes to these topics.
But marketing your brand to an organization means more than rattling off speeds and feeds. Any IT pro with the seniority to play a role in major purchase decisions is also deeply involved in the culture and politics of the organization they serve.
They’re aware of edicts, personalities, biases and other human elements that will influence their purchase decisions — and they’ll favor brands that make it easier to correct for these variables.
That means making yourself an active listener who can help your customers weather the good, bad and ugly of organizational decision-making.
It’s also easier said than done: Most customers are understandably cautious about the objectivity of someone who ultimately wants to sell you something!
But while proving authenticity doesn’t happen overnight, a little cultural consciousness goes a long way.
Here are some ways brands can become trusted partners.
Pick the right representative for your brand. Since winning trust requires more than product specifications, finding a cultural fit within your marketing team is as much art as science. Chemistry counts when cultivating lasting relationships with customers.
Get a feel for the ambitions that drive your customer’s business and the pain points that impede them. Then, make sure your brand rep has a feel for both and is prepared to spend at least as much time discussing those realities on the ground as the capabilities of your products and services.
Turn negative feedback into positive learnings. Sure, you’ve got a great product — but no product or service is going to check every box for every customer, especially when your IT buyer is subjecting your brand to the scrutiny of multiple stakeholders with different priorities.
It’s natural to avoid negativity — but if you do so, you’ll lose trust and miss an opportunity to gain insights into your customer’s challenges. Don’t hesitate to take responsibility when things don’t go right (either with your product or your message), and be open to learning precisely where the situation took a wrong turn.
This sort of openness to criticism and willingness to grow from it is a great way of learning about the organization’s pain points and engendering trust in your good intentions.
Balance brand messaging with your own personality. Authenticity is key when working with customers, but don’t lose track of your brand’s own style and standards. Even as you cultivate personal relationships within the organization, be sure to maintain a direct line to your own brand’s PR department and creative and product teams.
After all, you never want to learn news about your own company from a customer …
And while tracking the complexities of your customers’ organization, you never want to lose track of the brand that’s paying your bills!
Bottom line: Even when the product is technology, personal relationships are integral to your relationship with buyers. Help your customer navigate personalities and pain points — without compromising your brand in the process — and you’ll have the inside track on business for the long term.