The psychology of marketing and selling to executive-level buyers

#1. Create your buyer personas

One of the most common mistakes is cold-calling or emailing a prospective buyer to ask them what they’re looking for and determine how your offer could fit their business. Executive buyers often have a rather good idea of what they need, and they expect any prospective vendor to know as well. Simply taking a stab in the dark in the name of trying to reach as many prospects as possible is a quick road to nowhere.

Establishing buyer personas is essential in any industry, but that’s doubly true in B2B sectors where you’re under increased pressure to offer tailor-made solutions that address very specific business challenges.

#2. Focus on inbound strategies

When selling to executives, outbound marketing without strategy is nothing short of absurd. Without insights into your target customer, you won’t be able to communicate value, and if there’s no value, there’s no customer. Marketing to executives is usually a multi-step process as well, since there are often more people involved in making the decision. It’s essential to run your message through the chain of command by reaching out at the right touchpoints.

Inbound marketing is all about understanding your customer. Marketers need to understand the problem and how to communicate the solution, in a way that delivers value, while sales teams need to ensure that they follow up with the right buyers and provide a blend of products and services perfectly match their customer’s needs.

#3. Prepare a targeted presentation 

A lot of B2B marketing collateral is all about the product. It often focusses on specifications and lofty claims to help back up the value proposition, but that’s not where the focus should lie. Instead, the needs of the prospective customer must take the centre stage. That’s why you need YOUR customer personas to identify the pain points and communicate your understanding of them, before you start offering your product or service as a solution.

Whether it’s a landing page, promotional email, or any other medium, executive-level buyers want to know in the first few seconds how your offer can help them. This demands a warm introduction backed up by a killer presentation that speaks their language.

#4. Deliver continuous feedback

Without feedback, it’s impossible to gauge the success of your digital marketing efforts. You can’t expect to get everything right on the first go either, not least because every business is different, and every buyer persona has a unique set of needs and demographical attributes. If you tap into feedback at every interaction between you and your prospective buyers, you can adopt an approach of continuous improvement.

One of the most powerful ways to gather feedback is A/B testing, where you use two different methods in pursuit of the same goal. The one that wins goes onto the next level, at which point you can further refine your strategy and messaging.

#5. Create buyer journeys

Your product or service offers a solution to a business problem, which should be illustrated in your presentation, as well as in your buyer personas. The next step in ensuring your message reaches the right people is understanding the buyer journey. In many B2B transactions, there will be more than one decision-maker involved in this journey.

For example, a cloud vendor might target mid-level employees by communicating the benefits of mobility and accessibility. Yet at the same time, the actual decision to sign a contract will probably be made in the boardroom. If that’s the case, then you’ll need to tailor your message for each individual persona along the journey. You may, for example, raise awareness in the first place with engaging blog content and social media posts which get mid-level employees talking with management about the benefits of implementing your solution. At that point, you’ll need the right marketing collateral, like in-depth whitepapers and tailor-made presentations, to speak directly to the needs and concerns of company executives.