• How IT Buyers Want to Engage With You

    After spending several years engaging with 1.6 Million IT buyers, I sometimes think I have them figured out. Yet, I’m still amazed at what I still have to learn after all these years. Instead of me voicing my opinions, I decided to ask 1.6 Million IT technology buyers what these folks actually want from IT vendors in 2011 and onwards. Here is what they told me:

    What is the worst thing an IT vendor can do to earn your business? 

    • Cold call
    • Lie about their products
    • Not Listen
    • Slam the competition
    • Know nothing about my business
    • Assume IT decision makers have linear buying stages
    • Advertise and market generically and/or poorly
    • Not respond
    • Not be open about pricing
    • Pretend they have a relationship with my company when they don’t
    • Refuse to leave a voicemail with the receptionist
    • Argue
    • Think because I downloaded a whitepaper, I’m ready to buy
    • Not provide easy access to technical information on the company’s website
    • Think that the IT department has no influence on the buying process and only sell to the C-level guys

    So what is the best thing an IT vendor can do to earn our business? (No particular order)

    • Support the products that you sell
    • Provide a knowledgeable representative (I’ll buy through the channel partner,but I want to have a connection with the vendor as well)
    • Engage us on our terms, where we choose to live and work
    • Answer the phone when I call looking for information or respond to an email
    • Don’t read from a script, talk to me in your own voice
    • Keep promises
    • Listen
    • Be honest
    • Respect the value of my time
    • Don’t sell a product if it’s not ready to be used
    • Don’t always be selling, listen to me and understand my business
    • Don’t force me to register for white papers, e-books, etc.
    • Have resources on your web site where I can learn technical details, implementation plans, caveats and general pricing etc.

    A few recommendations to IT marketers from IT buyers:

    It is clear IT decision makers are overwhelmed with vendors following the old model of get a name, make a call, set a follow up, call back, make a pitch, keep calling and looking for the lucky strike. The ironic thing is this approach is expensive. You have to run a campaign to get leads, and then sort, categorize and finally follow up. The bad part is most of these are cold leads and the sales close rate is very low.

    Instead of spending time churning through business cards and registration lists, look for ways to have conversations with potential customers, find out where your buyers are online/offline and engage them on their terms. By simply talking to people informally at events or in online communities, an IT vendor can see who is interested in what they are doing right now, who are potential prospects, and who is not interested in what you are doing at this time.

    Net-net:  Show competence, build trust and engage. Form a true partnership, one in which the vendor and partner have a mutually beneficial relationship based on trust and working effectively together. And the first step is to get involved.

    People are seeking out solutions all the time. You need to get in front of them with marketing before sales will be effective. Get the word out through traditional marketing, social media and other passive models. Always have sales ready people available for us to reach out. In fact, social media gives a good chance for marketing and sales to mingle into a transparent single entity. Sales can respond rapidly to direct conversations both in and out of communities in a congruent permission based way.

    Kenny Madden works in market development at Austin based Spiceworks, the fastest growing IT social business network. By combining free IT management software with a Facebook-like community, Spiceworks helps over 1.6 million IT professionals to discover, buy and manage $260 billion worth of technology products and services each year.  Kenny can be reached at kenny@spiceworks.com.

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    How IT Buyers Want to Engage With You, 4.7 out of 5 based on 3 ratings
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