B2B buying is scary. For your prospects, the stakes are high—after all, their time, money, and job could be on the line. There are many unknowns to confront—like pricing, support, and showing ROI—before they finally reach a decision.
The problem is, if these hidden buyer fears aren’t addressed by your sales and marketing teams, they could sneak up and kill your chances of turning leads into new customers. So the things that scare your prospects should really scare you, too.
Luckily, you’ve already got the best resource to quell your buyers’ fears: your customer advocates. You just need to know how and when to deploy them in the buying process.
In this post, we’re spelling out what makes your prospects shake in their boots, and how to show them that the buying process doesn’t have to be a nightmare, with tips from some of our own trusty advocates! (They’re basically the B2B version of the Mystery Machine gang from Scooby Doo.)
Buyer Fear #1: Deal-breaker details lurking in the shadows
Everyone is a afraid of what they don’t know. Even after presenting your best sales pitch, your prospects will likely worry that they’re not getting the full story. After all, merely 9% of B2B buyers trust vendor content. That leaves a lot of buyers who don’t trust you at all.
How to overcome the fear of the unknown
Step aside and hand over the reigns to someone your buyers actually trust: their peers.
- Ask your advocates to provide referrals. A cold call from you can totally spook buyers who don’t know you. But when prospects hear about you from a peer first, the introduction is bound to go much smoother—in fact, referrals are more successful at converting leads than website traffic and social media combined!
- When fear of the unknown is giving her the creeps, Jessica Mitchell, Customer Marketing Manager at Hero K12, likes to hear from real customers: “I look for testimonials, references and reviews in order to find others who have been in a similar situation to see if the product/service is a fit.” So, give the people what they want! Call in the references and provide the testimonials that will put your buyer at ease.
- It’s also crucial to constantly encourage your customers to leave reviews of your product or service online. These reviews will serve as reliable material that your prospects can believe in when they take to the web (as they undoubtedly will!) to cross-reference what you’ve told them about yourself.
Buyer Fear #2: The budget vampire
Buyers are afraid that you and your product will suck their resources dry, leaving them completely unable to defend their purchase decision to their management teams. (In their eyes, you might as well be a modern day Dracula.)
How to overcome the budget bind
To cast off this fear, you need to explain how your buyer will get back what they put into your product (and more).
- Diana Wong, Director of Customer Marketing and Advocacy at RES Software, says she looks at vendor case studies to justify spend. Make sure you have stories from customers who have achieved success while facing budget constraints. ROI calculators are another way to prove expected payoff. Ensure your prospects have easy access to these resources.
- Ask your current customers how they overcame their budget fears to buy your solution so you can get smarter about how to help future customers combat their worries. (We created a whole ebook featuring our advocate’s responses to this question!)
- Don’t just focus on dollar value returns in your customer stories. Emotions often play a bigger role in B2B sales than you think. Make sure you infuse real emotion into your case studies and explain all the benefits your advocates enjoy after they purchased your solution (i.e. did customers save time and effort?). To gather these stories, you’ll need to get to know your customers better and reach out personally for a one-to-one conversation.
Buyer Fear #3: The failure phantom
For B2B buyers, the fear of failure is the ultimate nightmare. If you can’t get to the heart of why your prospects think your solution may not work, and provide them with comfort, you don’t stand a chance of closing new business.
How to overcome the fear of failure
Your buyers are willing to put in the work to prepare themselves for purchasing. Your job is to make it easy for them to plan for success.
- Jeff Gabel, Customer Community Specialist at Crimson Hexagon says he likes “mapping out a game plan for success” when making a new purchase. Provide your prospects with internal planning tools, like success metrics, best practices guides, and budgeting tools so they feel confident. An internal pitch deck they can use to show their management team the value of your product will also make their success more likely.
- Expose your buyers to lively community discussions between your advocates, where they can see how customers continue to make your product work for them.
- Don’t just focus on making prospects successful with your product—help them become more successful in their careers. Create content that educates prospects about how they can elevate themselves in their role or industry, through ebooks, blogs, webinars and more. The key is to feature your advocates in these resources. Advocates are experts who can teach your prospects valuable information about their industry, not just your product. When you commit to your buyers’ overall learning, you’ll earn trust and show your commitment to their success.
Buyer Fear #4: Taking the final plunge
Even after a strong introduction, the right references, and tons of research, there will likely be some final doubts before completing the purchase—especially if there is a large buying committee that needs to sign off on the solution.
How to overcome the final spook
- Account-based marketing (ABM) can help you provide target accounts with evidence that is relevant to their company, industry or role. But you can go beyond creating targeted content or personalized landing pages. Get your advocates to surround your accounts with social proof for your product! For instance, ask advocates who have contacts at your target accounts to proactively reach out and talk about their success with your product or make an introduction. You can also encourage your advocates to share your content on social media so their peers will be reassured everywhere they look that you’re a safe bet.
- Nam Nguyen, Director of Sales and Marketing Operations at CAKE, suggests highlighting the other post-purchase value buyers will get from you. “A good support team is key!” he says. Make sure the whole buying committee knows they’ll be supported once they sign on the dotted line. Your advocate community can also be a great support network for your prospective buyers.
- Although you can’t control your buyer’s gut feelings, you are in control of the experience you give them. Throughout every step of the purchase process, show buyers you’re invested in their success. Show them the love, and treat them right, and they could become a new loyal advocate, who will help you dispel the fears of other future buyers. Establish a strategy for creating a delightful experience and recognizing advocates that help you out to create a continuous cycle.
Afraid you’ll forget something? Use this handy checklist:
- Create and maintain a strong referral program
- Continuously uncover a wide pool of references across all verticals and industries
- Encourage your advocates to share their experience and knowledge with your product on review websites
- Provide case studies to prove your product ROI on a logistical level
- Ask customers about your value prop and how they justified the spend for your product
- Invest time in uncovering emotional customer success stories
- Give prospects planning tools, best practices and success metric/benchmarks for your product
- Have a robust community of public discussions for prospects to learn more from
- Help them develop as professionals as a whole (with advocate-driven content)
- Use AMB practices to surround buying committees with social proof for your product
- Highlight other value drivers aside from your product, like your support team and advocate network
- Establish a customer advocacy strategy to uncover and mobilize your advocates at every stage of the sales funnel
Follow this list, and your buyers will be able to kiss their fears goodbye!