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Ardath Albee

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Why B2B Marketers Must Address Status Quo

When I do stategic planning workshops with my clients, we get into a lot of discussions about buying stages. Anyone who's followed me for a while or read my book knows that I always start very early in the process with the stage of Status Quo.

My definition of status quo is the buyer's current situation. We get to that by answering questions such as:

  • How are they doing what your product enables today?
  • What workarounds may be in place that could be escalating pain?
  • Why should they care about what you're talking about?
  • What would get their attention?
  • What would they need to learn to become motivated to change?

In a recent conversation, a client voiced concern that we were starting too early in the process. Comments such as "this is a mature market, they know they need to change" came up as I probed deeper.

My response was, "If that's true, then why aren't they actively pursuing change?"

There's a big difference in knowing change is available and actually agreeing that change is needed and taking steps to do something about it.

Regardless of what you think your prospects and customers already know, they still have a status quo. If you can't motivate them to move from that position, you can't sell them anything. Period. End of discussion.

Heck, I "know" a lot of stuff, but I don't necessarily act on it. Even if I "know" it will be good for me.

But addressing status quo goes much deeper than determining their current position. It means you have to figure out why they aren't changing and what might make them reconsider their stance that status quo is good enough.

When looking for an approache to dislodge status quo, try applying some of these questions:

  • What trigger event would cause them to pursue change?

  • Is the way they've been offered the idea of change not aligned with their perspective?

  • What business objective might they miss achieving if they don't change?

  • What future opportunity might they miss if they don't start changing now?

  • Is there a cultural "elephant in the room?"

  • What move by a competitor might get them out of the gate?

  • Is an industry development moving their market right while they're still going left?

  • Is a regulatory or compliance change coming that they will need help addressing?

  • Are they losing market share even while growing revenues?

  • Are they meeting their KPIs, but still leaving revenue on the table they don't see?

  • Will a looming merger threaten their market position?

  • Is there a new market opportunity that they're missing due to their status quo?

  • Who is an obstacle? (In B2B, there's nearly always a consensus that must be reached)

  • What is an obstacle blocking change (process, legacy equipment, TCO, etc.)

Those are just a few ways to look at how you might position marketing content to catch your buyers' attention and arouse their curiosity about the costs of status quo. Just make sure you're creating a business-relevant dialogue, not a treatise about why your product is the best choice.

The goal in this stage is not to get them to choose a product, it's to get them to choose to pursue change. Big difference.

In today's market environment, good enough isn't a strategic growth plan, it's a recipe for obsolescence.

What will it take for you to reach buyers and make them reconsider their adherrence to status quo?

What other questions would you add to the list?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.