In a new study from OpenView Venture Partners (available here for the price of your contact information), 39% of IT buyers said they rejected outreach from an IT vendor sales person simply because they were not interested in the product or service.  The following chart shows buyer opinion on six other reasons and how buyers’ answers compare to those of sales people.

 

Why-Buyers-Reject-Sales-Outreach

“Not interested” means we are either targeting the wrong market or we haven’t done a good job of telling our story.

Why are we so off base?

The report suggests that vendor messaging misses the mark because sales and marketing people don’t really understand how sales opportunities originate. According to OpenView, this leads to misinterpreting other issues in the buying process and we end up developing value propositions that do not resonate with buyers’ needs or pain points.

For example, the study suggests that buyers are not quite as driven by key corporate objectives and management mandates as conventional wisdom indicates. Instead, they are more interested in replacing a solution that isn’t working well, researching a market or bringing about major change in their organization.

Why-Buyers-Reach-Out-to-Sales

OpenView concludes that “creating highly relevant content for each stage in a buyer’s journey – rather than focusing on a buyer’s corporate objectives – is the real key to a more effective and efficient sales process”. And to do this “… you must invest time to truly understanding how and why a buying process starts, as well as other factors that actually move buyers through their journey”.

Fine. But how do we do that?

Let buyers tell you on LinkedIn

Not only is LinkedIn the largest B2B networking site on the planet, it’s bursting with IT buyers – including your buyers. And 75% of them are willing to connect with vendors on LinkedIn. If you’re doing things right you won’t find it hard to get their honest input.

LinkedIn offers you several good ways to test messaging – and other assumptions – fast and inexpensively, even free. There are two ways to approach it. Here’s a quick look at those:

  • Ask. Send a message to your relevant connections asking what they’re struggling with or if a certain problem is on their radar. Post a discussion in appropriate groups. If you need to, you can expand your reach via InMail; but beyond a handful you’ll have to pay for these. (Technically, you can post a poll in a group, but we haven’t found these to be very useful. UPDATE – As of May 2014, LinkedIn is discontinuing polls in groups.)
  • Test. See if your current or considered message gets prospects to take action. You can do this by sending messages and posting in groups. You can also run a quick ad campaign and test a few ideas to see what response you get.

You can gain even more insight with the use of social media management platform Oktopost, which is what we use for our clients. Use Oktopost to post discussions in various groups and it will tell you which topics are of greatest interest to the members. This not only helps you refine your messaging, it helps you plan and develop content your buyers want to see.

I don’t know of any other network or marketing tactic that will get you so much good information so quickly as you can get via LinkedIn. Just another reason the most successful software and IT marketers are taking LinkedIn so seriously.