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4 Ways to Show Interest in Your Buyers: Lessons from Bono

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A few years ago my younger brother had the opportunity to meet Bono, the lead singer for the Irish rock band U2. This meeting was not the typical “stand in line, get an autograph, shake hands” kind of thing. The setting in which they met gave my brother the opportunity to spend 10 to 15 minutes in uninterrupted discussion with the rock star.

I was a tad jealous as I listened to my brother recount to me the details of their meeting. Interestingly though, the thing that made the biggest impression on my brother was that Bono was the one who asked all the questions. To quote my brother, “He didn’t break eye contact and his demeanor showed that he was genuinely interested in learning about me.”

It often comes as a surprise when we hear stories of world-famous celebrities showing so much interest in “the common man.” Why? Because we often get the impression that they have more important things to do.

This thought made me wonder how that same dynamic applies to companies and those that buy their products and services. Are buyers surprised when a company shows genuine interest in their wants and needs? Which are you, as a seller, more concerned with: being interesting or being truly interested in your buyers’ needs? While the difference in the two may be subtle, the way they come across to your buyers will make an incredible difference in how they engage with (and ultimately buy from) you.

Continuing with the theme, here are four characteristics of companies that are more focused on being interested than interesting:

1.  They Engage With Their Buyers.
Organizations that are interested in their buyers focus on engagement. What does this mean? It’s not just the new wave of brand marketing. It’s a communication process whereby they connect with their buyers, seek to understand them, and ask questions. The questions lead to answers that provide understanding; understanding leads to a better overall buyer experience; a better experience leads to a long-term relationship. This rarely begins with: “Hello, when can you view a demo? Engagement takes time and will be accomplished by patient, ongoing dialogue.

2.  They Know Who Their Buyer Is Before They Engage
Ask anyone what they are looking for in a romantic relationship, and the answer often is a list of character traits or a description of the ideal mate. Companies that are interested do the same with their buyers. They create buyer personas or ideal profiles, which allow them to better focus and target their messaging and offers.

The development of these profiles is a continual process. The more information you obtain through engagement, the more the profile of your buyer will evolve. The more you know about them (being interested), the better you’ll be able to help them achieve their goals.

3.  They Don’t Treat Everyone the Same
One of the things I like to do when I get a consumer telemarketing call at home is to see how quickly I can get the caller off script. It’s so painful to hear them reading word for word from this script, especially knowing that I’m hearing the same spiel they’re giving everyone else they call.  You know you have them thrown when you ask a question. There’s usually five seconds of silence and then they begin reading again, perhaps hoping I’ll forget I asked a question. It’s great fun.

Ineffective B2B marketing and sales organizations are acting in much the same manner. Instead of a one-on-one dialogue with each buyer, they take a scripted approach that indicates they have no understanding of the buyer. Conversely, organizations that are interested tailor communication and overall experience to each unique buyer (or buyer category).

4.  They Measure Their Engagement
I recently served on a panel which was asked, “How do you know if your content is effective?”  Other members of the panel began answering, giving elaborate answers about key indicators, and percentages of opens and clicks (obviously email focused). When my turn came, I offered up one short line: “You will know it’s effective if your buyers respond to it.” It’s pretty simple, but it’s true. If there is no response or action, your content is not working.

The only way to know this is to measure your buyer engagement, response, and (ultimately) purchase behavior. If they don’t keep coming back for more, then there’s a problem.

Interesting or interested? One gets attention, the other develops and maintains long-term buying relationships. Which one do you want to be?


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Carlos Hidalgo is CEO of The Annuitas Group the leader in the development of marketing & sales lead management processes. He is a frequent speaker on the topic of lead management process, demand generation and marketing automation and is passionate about helping their clients improve the return on their marketing and sales investments.

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Comments

  • by Michael Perla Fri Aug 26, 2011 via blog

    Carlos - hard to argue with this approach ... it reminds me of the saying that if you want someone to be interested in you, be interested in them (in a genuine and authentic way). The law of indirect effect ... real, empathic, active listening is a change management activity in and of itself.

  • by Tracy Geier Sat Aug 27, 2011 via blog

    Carlos,
    First, it is refreshing to hear that Bono was so attentive and down-to-earth when he spent some time with your brother.

    As an internet based company, we have focused a lot of time and attention on getting to know who our customers really are and those efforts have always paid off. Also your point about not treating all the customers the same is also spot on. Some customers want very little, if any, communication, while others would prefer you to walk them through step-by-step. Not all people are alike, so it stands to reason that treating them all the same would not heed the best results.

    Thank you for your post.

  • by Lionel Bachmann Mon Aug 29, 2011 via blog

    You hit the nail on the head. It's easy to get so focused on trying to increase traffic and sales that you forget that your customers are actual people who have needs. This post helps keep things in perspective, and to give your customers the VIP experience. It builds trust and loyalty when the customer thinks that your are catering to their needs. It takes a little more time, but the benefits are completely worth it.

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