Six reasons why marketing to executives fails
By Rod Griffith
May 19, 2017
“Upreaching” to higher level decision makers is important. Don’t make these common mistakes.
Why is upreaching an important strategy?
But implementing such a strategy is rife with challenges and mistakes that can thwart the success of these upreaching initiatives.
Why marketing efforts to executives can often fail
1. You’re relying too much on traditional “wide-net” marketing approaches.
While these tactics may occasionally reach executives, you’re likely going to be more effective in your upreaching efforts if you use a person-to-person (P2P) approach: identify a smaller number of executive contacts, and seek to establish and incubate a personal, trusted relationship at the strategic level. [See my blog article on the person-to-person marketing approach here: https://www.mreach.com/insights/post/todays-b2b-marketing-really-p2p-marketing]
2. You're pitching product features and benefits—and not your strategic value.
So much of marketing has for years been focused on enabling sales organizations to better pitch product features and benefits. Sales guides, sales training, product brochures, sales battle cards, and data sheets are very often aimed at helping salespeople communicate the superiority of products and services, their robust features, and the benefits of those features.
But when reaching business executives at higher levels, you need to focus your initial approach on communicating your strategic value to the organization—and to the executive. You won’t get the opportunity to discuss your products or services until you first convince the executive that you have strategic value that the organization (and the executive) may benefit from. You need to understand the filtering that your target executives use to decide if you’re worth talking to. For more on this, see my blog article on upreaching to executive decision makers here: https://www.mreach.com/insights/post/upreaching-executive-level-decision-makers
3. Your approach doesn’t match their buying journey.
Today more than ever, executive decision makers have easy access to detailed information, recommendations, and purchase advice on just about every product and service their organization may need. At the touch of a finger, they can access industry reports, white papers, analyst recommendations, customer success stories and testimonials, competitive profiles and comparisons, benchmark data and other test results, video demonstrations, and free trials.
But the real issue isn’t necessarily that you’re reaching customers too early—it’s often because you’re taking the wrong approach. Decision makers will want to hear from you if (and only if) what you offer them is of value to the specific stage of their buyer’s journey. That means, in most cases, you need to stop trying to sell products and services in the early stages of their journey—and instead, provide information that helps inform them in a manner that assists their journey.
Reaching your true decision makers early in the buyer’s journey with the right approach can pay off. According to InsideSales.com, approximately 50% of sales go to the first person who calls on the prospect. And in a recent survey by SiriusDecisions of over 1,000 buyers, roughly 60% indicated that they or someone from their organization received information from the winning vendor to help inform them in the earliest educational stages of their buying journey.
4. The value that you're communicating isn't focused on strategic outcomes—or isn't clearly relevant to a current vital problem or challenge.
To do this, you need to focus your messaging on the true strategic value that you offer and its ability to directly help their company (and the executive) drive a strategic outcome.
5. You're not communicating your value upfront.
This is a very common mistake—and, fortunately, one that is very easy to fix. Most customers—especially executives—have very little interest in knowing those things about you until they believe you potentially have strategic value relevant to the critical needs of their company. If your presentations and sales tools don’t focus on establishing your strategic value right up front, you need to seriously consider revamping those sales tools.
6. You're telling them something they can readily hear from their current trusted relationships.
- Becoming the invisible marketer—Discusses the need to build marketing initiatives that blend seamlessly into (versus interrupting) the customer’s normal conversation path, encouraging an engagement that feels more natural and organic—and less processed through the marketing machinery.
- Joining the customer conversation - Instead of simply focusing on interruptive marketing efforts to gain customer attention, you need to understand how to join them in these ongoing conversations—in essence, to merge smoothly with the “conversation highway” so your engagements with prospective customers are organic and don’t feel forced.