Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Two Sure Ways for B2B Marketers to Blow the First Date

As promised, today's post is a guest blog by Josh Duncan.  Josh leads Product Marketing and Social Media efforts at Zenoss, an enterprise software startup.  You can find Josh writing online at the Random Jog blog or on Twitter @Joshua_d.  Josh is a fellow crusader in the battle to rid the world of MABUSHI.

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I am trying to read Simon Sinek’s latest book, Start with the Why, but haven’t been making much progress. Whenever I sit down to spend some time with it, I only make it a few page before I inevitably run into something that I need to write down and think about.

For example, on the subject of building trust with you customer Simon writes,
Like on a date, it is exceedingly difficult to start building a relationship with
a potential customer or client by trying to convince them of all the rational
features and benefits. Those are important, but they server only to give
credibility to a sales pitch and allow buyers to rationalize their purchase
B2B marketers must find a way to get the attention of the customer to get in the door but that’s just the start. There’re usually multiple stakeholders and influencers that have different goals and agendas that must be addressed before the final sale.

One sure fire way to not get a “second date” is to over-position the product. It’s when marketing wants to please everyone and tries to cover every angle with the product positioning.  What usually happens is that the product promises to do more than it’s capable of delivering. If it sounds too good to be true, people assume that it is. Additionally, the last thing you want to do is raise your customer’s expectations only to crush them into pieces when the product fails to live up to the hype.

Another mistake is trying to position your product in a hot category when clearly it is not.  Look no further than Microsoft’s “To the Cloud” commercials for a perfect example.

It’s not really clear what product they are talking about here but it’s definitely not Cloud Computing.
Were they hoping that by sticking Cloud in the positioning people would assume the product is new and cool?

So how do you reach your customers without over-promising and over-hyping? It’s about finding out what they value and their pain points and engaging with them at a level that shows you get their challenges. Most importantly, you have to realize that buliding trust is a process and it takes time.

Trying to shortcut the process will leave you dateless, sitting at home alone, waiting for the phone to ring.

Next up: Another guest Blogger giving tips on slide presentations.


  1. This is a great post.

    Job seekers tend to make the same mistake. They list everything in their resume and wonder why no one calls them.

    Like a date, you only want to show a little bit about yourself and get your date to want to know more.

    You also need to take the time to listen, this is the first step in the selling process.


  2. Bertrand,

    Agreed. There are so many ways to do it wrong on the first try that the mind boggles. But it doesn't stop people from trying! :-)

    How many times have you seen it where they told everything and anything - and one of the minor points turned you off? Or you thought, they don't have a clue what I need or want? Etc.

    There's a difference between reporting (also known as a core dump) and a conversation. A conversation requires input and engagement from both parties. A core dump just says, go away I just told you everything I know you need to know.

  3. Tim,

    Thanks for the opportunity to guest post.

    Love the Core Dump analogy!


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