First of all, I want to send my sincere condolences to the people of the Ukraine who have lost loved ones, because of the fighting and needless killings, in their struggle for democracy.
And I condemn what Putin has done in the Crimea, sending in troops to occupy a part of a sovereign nation.
I commend the USA for taking the lead on this crisis. But there have been some interesting parallels come out of the negotiations between Russia and the USA. And I believe some of the tactics and blustering of both parties have some lessons to be learned.
Have you noticed that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, has stated that Putin is living in the 20th Century, not the 21st Century?
And that his negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have gotten nowhere.
So what are the parallels here with B2B marketing?
Number 1 – Kerry is not listening to what Russia is doing and saying.
It doesn’t matter what Kerry thinks and believes, he needs to figure out what Putin and Lavrov are thinking and why. He needs to get into their mind, and try and understand where they are coming from.
I’m not saying that the USA should give into Russia, by any means. I believe the free world needs to stand up to naked aggression.
But Obama and Kerry have to listen to what the Russians are saying and doing, just like we, as business people, need to listen to what our prospects and customers are saying and doing.
Number 2 – The USA needs to also understand what their allies are thinking, and why they might not be behind some of the US initiatives. For instance; most European countries, for example, get much of their oil and natural gas from Russia. They cannot afford to alienate Russia completely.
Lessons for B2B Marketers & Sales
It’s OK to think that perhaps our prospects are wrong, but we have to point out why – IN TERMS AND LANGUAGE THEY UNDERSTAND AND THAT MEET THEIR VIEW OF THE SITUATION – before we will ever sell them anything.
If they are living in the 20th Century, and many B2B businesses still are, especially with their websites, then we must understand why they are doing this first, and then move into our explanation of why they should change.
And in particular, why they should change with your solution!
You need to use questioning techniques that also do not belong in the 20th Century. Stop asking BANT type questions off the bat. Find out what they want to achieve first. Then you can find out if you have a solution for them.
There is also another side of the coin that is hurting B2B companies’ business growth.
As just pointed out about B2B buyers, many B2B sellers are still living in the 20th Century also, with their own websites.
When was the last time you upgraded your company website? If it wasn’t in the past two years, then you are missing a lot of business.
Because the first place B2B buyers go is to your website. They want to know if you can help them and solve their problems for them.
And you need to engage them with great content, and try to get their contact information, to keep the process moving forward.
If your website looks outdated or, more importantly, if it doesn’t give them what they want, then they are gone within 5 seconds.
That’s right – 5 seconds, and many times less.
So, understand all of the people you must deal with in a B2B sale. And understand their point of view. Until you do that, you will keep asking; “Why is it taking so long for them to make up their mind?”
Just like Obama and Kerry must get their allies on their side, which isn’t proving to be an easy step in this peace process, you need to get all of the people, who influence the sale, on your side. And there could be up to five influencers in any B2B sale.
Now Obama and Kerry don’t have to agree with what the Russians are doing, but they still have to find common ground before anything will move the situation forward.
You too need to understand who the people in your prospect companies are, how they think, and then how you can meet their thinking, and consequently change their ideas and attitudes with your questioning techniques.
You need to show them why they should buy your products and services, instead of your competitors. Show them why they should listen to you!
And you can only do this with thorough research, and the right questioning techniques.
Only then will you be able to sell them your products and services.
Learn from the world around you, and you will become much better at your job.
And the best way to learn is from people who already know. So get training, and especially ongoing coaching, to get better at you job.