In case you haven’t noticed, the way technology is being purchased is changing. Today, with the increase of technology, customers of all types and backgrounds are educating themselves about solutions using all the information available to them on the internet.
“According to Gartner, most customers have already researched the solution before they make the call to purchase and they largely ignore outbound marketing messages,” says Jennifer Anaya, VP of marketing for Ingram Micro North America. “Because your customers, and prospective customers, are learning long before they make a buying decision, your marketing approach needs to change to reflect this shift.”
One key change that Anaya recommends is to become part of the education process. “Your website needs to speak to what you do for those prospects in order to strategically attract the right customers. Solution providers and VARs need to ask, ‘Am I providing the content that helps educate customers and helps them make informed decisions?’ and if not, it’s time to make those changes,” she says.
SEO for IT Solutions Providers
For example, too many IT solution providers haven’t optimized their websites for searches that would bring them the customers they’re trying to reach. “Can your customers easily find you, or content about what you do to address what they’re looking for online?” asks Anaya. “Are you providing content that’s educational and informative? Does your content mention third-party research or non-biased sources that truly help your potential customers make an informed decision? Once they’ve found you and learned more about what you can offer on your website, your customers need to know that they can trust who they’re buying from,” she says. “Building trust through an educational and nurturing process online is really important. So, the key thing to do is to stop trying to sell products and services and to start selling you.”
Marketing Guru Seth Godin
The bottom line is, your customers need to know who you are. “What’s your story? What kind of clients do you serve? How does your story connect with what they need? Tell your story and do so consistently on your website, in your sales collateral, in the way you service your current customers and in the way you attract new ones” says Anaya. “Reflect your expertise in that story and share the kind of information they genuinely regard as valuable. Help them understand what their needs are and how you can help them achieve their business goals.”
As marketing guru Seth Godin has said, “In the connection economy, trust and relationships are the new currency.” This means it’s very important to establish who you serve, what you do best and what you can do to improve outcomes for your customers. “Pricing isn’t as big a factor as you may think for small businesses, or even midsized technology buyers anymore,” says Anaya. “What matters today is an ability to establish trust with your customers so they know that they’re buying the right solution from the right partner—they don’t want to make a mistake. Mistakes hold a much higher cost. Find out where they want their business to grow in the next five years. Show them how you can help them achieve the success they’re dreaming of.”
Practicing What It Preaches
Ingram Micro has implemented this policy internally as well, with great results. “Jim Baum, CEO of Networking Technologies, told me recently that he has started telling his sales people to never say ‘No’ again but to call Ingram Micro first,” she says. “We’ve also won some new business recently by sitting down to talk—not about pricing—but about how Ingram Micro can help our vendor partners be more successful in the future. It’s not only about solving their problems. It’s about taking time to listen first and find out where they want to go with their business, whether it’s advanced solutions or cloud or services, and then partnering together to achieve the desired results.”
All of this might seem overwhelming, but the good news is, with the internet anything is possible. “Take advantage of your strength, find your voice. Tell your customers who you are and do what you can to help them succeed,” says Anaya. “The key thing is to show customers why working with you makes complete sense for them.”
Want to learn more? Join Jennifer Anaya and others at ONE where we’ll talk about digital transformation, new business models, advanced marketing insights and more.