Tag Archives: #brochureware

Confucius Say: Your Case Studies are Worthless

confuciusThe most noteworthy article on B2B selling was published in a 1966 Harvard Business Review article (#66213). In “How to Buy /Sell Professional Services,” author Warren J. Wittreich explains the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic selling.

Extrinsic selling occurs, according to Wittreich, when a B2B seller relies on successful work that’s been performed for other customers, as a means to validate the seller’s capabilities and potential ability to perform for a prospective customer.

The weakness of extrinsic selling is that it requires a prospective customer to make a leap of faith: to believe the service provider will provide a level of success that matches or exceeds the work performed for the seller’s past or current clients. Extrinsic selling is a “trust me” approach, employed by a great number of B2B product and service providers.

Conversely, intrinsic selling does not require a prospective client to base its selection of a seller based on work done for others. No leap of faith required. Instead, it engages the prospect in a meaningful dialogue that (1) addresses their specific situation; (2) demonstrates — on an immediate, first-hand basis — the seller’s understanding of the situation; and (3) validates the seller’s ability to help the potential buyer. Intrinsic selling provides buyers with a significantly higher level of confidence in the seller’s capabilities, and leads to an engagement or sale far more frequently and rapidly than extrinsic selling.

The B2B marketer’s task is to equip the sales force with methodologies and tools that help initiate and facilitate intrinsic selling. This goal is rarely accomplished through anonymous or identified client / customer “case studies,” which are widely used, that prospective clients rarely read, and often carry the same level of credibility as references on a job applicant’s resume. (Would a company ever publish examples of its past work that were not portrayed as highly successful?)

Create Tools to Engage Prospects

One example of effective B2B intrinsic selling involved Phibro Energy’s introduction of energy derivatives…which enabled large companies to manage price risk related to gasoline, jet fuel and heating oil. To capture the attention of CFOs of those companies, and to convince them that energy derivatives were a viable risk management strategy, Phibro’s sales force needed more than brochureware. A prospective client needed to understand exactly how energy derivatives would benefit his company.

To establish an intrinsic sales dynamic, Phibro equipped its sales reps with a worksheet that calculated the range and depth of the prospect’s energy price exposure. Then, by applying a sophisticated algorithm, the sales rep was able to show exactly how energy risk management could improve the CFO’s company’s balance sheet.

Phibro’s energy exposure worksheet not only enabled their sales reps to establish an intrinsic sales dynamic, it cast the sales rep in a consultative role, and positioned Phibro Energy as a resource that could help reduce economic risk and lower operating costs.

Marketers at most B2B businesses, as well as many B2C firms, have similar opportunities to build interactive disciplines and tools — both online and offline — that can empower their sales reps to leverage the power of intrinsic selling. In taking this approach, they also benefit from the wisdom of the marketing master, Confucius, who purportedly wrote:

 I hear…and I forget.

I see…and I remember.

I do…and I understand.

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Brochureware Is Not a Dirty Word

Brochureware is the term used, often with derogatory marketing implications, to describe websites consisting entirely of static pages that promote a company’s products and services, people and value proposition. Most brochureware websites contain no content that requires updating, and other than perhaps a “Contact Us” form, no interactive capabilities. Brochureware simply sits online, like a printed brochure sits on a coffee table.

A big problem for many companies, from a brand marketing perspective, is that:

  1. Their well-intentioned graphic design firm has provided them with a website with functions requiring new and refreshed content. These functions might include: “News”; “In the News”; “Upcoming Events”; “Thought Leadership”; “Case Studies”; “White Papers”; “Webinars”, etc.
  2. Although they understand the potential marketing and SEO value of those website functions, companies often lack the motivation, resources or raw material to supply them with new, relevant, engaging content on a consistent basis.
  3. As a result, website visitors might see…a company blog with only 3 posts over the past year; no press releases issued since 2009; a “Coming Soon” graphic for the In the News section; an archive of quarterly newsletters with many issues skipped; a 2 year-old white paper that’s no longer relevant; and zero upcoming events scheduled.
  4. Based on these impressions, website visitors will likely conclude one or all of the following:
  • This company is out of business.
  • This company doesn’t really care what clients and prospects think of them.
  • If this company doesn’t care what I think of them, how well will they serve my needs?

Having seriously out-of-date or missing content on your website is akin to showing up to a first meeting with a prospective client wearing no shoes and the same shirt you’ve worn for the past 6 months, sporting a jacket with lapels 4 inches wide. Based on first impressions, that prospect has already crossed you off his list.

If your company’s website is incurring brand damage as a result of outdated content…and if it has no intention of building disciplines to consistently feed this online beast…then your best course of action is clear:

TELL YOUR GRAPHIC DESIGN FIRM TO REMOVE ALL WEBSITE FUNCTIONS THAT REQUIRE REGULAR UPDATING.

Your company will be better served – from a brand perspective – by having a website featuring 100% static brochureware, than by having a website that aspires to be something it’s not.

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