Charles crouch marketing_technical_product_to_my_mother
Marketing Your Technical Product/Service
... to my Mother .
Charles E. Crouch
Companies selling a technology-based product or service frequently promote their offerings based on technical features and
speciﬁcations, but these may not be the main decision criteria used by their customers. Potential customers will also be
looking for business beneﬁts to justify the purchase, but these beneﬁts are often neglected n the marketing message.
Having a technology-based product or service makes marketing even more challenging because:
• Few people understand complex technologies.
• The beneﬁts of one technology over another are not clear.
• Since people cannot easily differentiate between technologies, all technology is seen as equal.
Consequently, a big danger is having your technology seen as a commodity which everyone uses. Then the only
differentiator left for competing is price, which is a race to the bottom.
B2B is Different from B2C
Many technology-based businesses sell into the business-to-business (B2B)
market, which is signiﬁcantly different from the business-to-consumer (B2C)
The marketplace is more complex. The products and services on offer
are more complex, and customers are often quite sophisticated, especially in
their own areas of expertise.
Order values are larger. In the B2C world processing many small orders to
achieve signiﬁcant turnover is common. A single B2B order can be a
thousand times larger, but they occur less frequently.
Sales cycle is longer. B2C orders are often made on impulse. A B2B order
may have a sales cycle lasting months, requiring multiple steps and contacts.
Processes and procedures are more complex. Detailed proposal
requests, submission dates, review committees and formal contract signings
are common parts of the B2B buying process.
Your Potential Customers
To successfully market and sell, you must understand your customers. Three Key Questions to ask about your potential
B2B customers are:
• Who needs to be persuaded?
• What actions must they take to select you?
• How can you encourage them to do this?
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You will typically encounter three types of customers when selling technical products and services, and all can be part of
their customer decision process.
Decision makers have the power to authorize the buying decision. They are often not technically oriented, and they are at
higher levels in the organization. They are looking for reasons to validate the buying decision, to make sure it is the right
choice for their organization.
Inﬂuencers are people who have an impact on the ﬁnal buying decision. They are attracted to:
• Speciﬁc information, often technical
• Solutions to problems they encounter
• Calls-to-action telling them what to do next
Tire Kickers are people who are still early in the buying process. They are still important because they may become future
The Customer Decision Process
The Customer Decision Process is the set of steps a typical customer takes in order to decide to
make a purchase. This process has been illustrated using many different forms and titles, such as a
customer decision journey, but all describe a set of steps which customers go through. Since these
steps form a process, you should guide potential customers through this process to reach your
The Internet has affected these customer decision processes by changing the relationship between
seller and buyer. For example in the past sellers would qualify potential buyers, then approach them
with sales proposals. Now buyers actively conduct their own search for potential suppliers, visiting
websites and pre-qualifying sellers using on the material they ﬁnd. Based on this evaluation, buyers
will decide who to approach for an offer. As a result, ﬁrms may never know they have even been
considered as a supplier and then disqualiﬁed!
Your challenge, especially as a technical supplier, is to effectively persuade potential customers to select you at the early
stages of their customer decision process. However many people who start the customer decision process through a
website never complete it, so your website must be designed to help visitors ﬁnish the process.
If you look at your website as a series of steps customers take to select you,
then you can see why this failure rate is so high. At each stage of the process,
anything that hinders customers will encourage them to leave. Making changes
to your website and marketing message can help move potential customers
along the customer decision process to reach your desired goal. Even a small
improvement can have big results because the abandonment rate is so high.
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