Why Are Buyers Experiencing Risk Aversion?
The marketing landscape has changed dramatically over the past few decades and risk-aversion has become more and more prevalent as B2B buying decisions now involve more decision-makers than ever before.
Buyers are thinking ahead and heavily scrutinizing the long-term impact of investments and economic drivers while involving more stakeholders to analyze and assess risks/rewards before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
On top of that, access to a wide variety of resources, ratings, and reviews of a product or service are available at the click of a button, leading buyers to avoid interaction with you until the very end of the sales cycle, if at all.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “a Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study of 1,400+ B2B customers found 60% of typical purchasing decisions —researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking, pricing – happen before a conversation with a supplier.”
With this limited interaction, solution selling is no longer viable, and it’s fallen on marketing teams as well as the sales to make an emotional impact by interacting with buyers indirectly through content, early on in the funnel.
Marketing Needs to Be More Targeted and Aggressive
To be able to capture a buyer where they’re at today, marketing needs strong, unique perspectives that meet a strong standard and go beyond traditional thought leadership to challenge risk aversion.
Simply sharing information with your customers will only inspire initial curiosity that fizzles fast.
The answer is challenger messaging. The challenger approach is aimed at pushing buyers outside of their comfort zone by speaking authoritatively and promoting their unique strengths so the buyer adopts a different perspective.
This new approach may even require educating individual stakeholders through constructive tension to see that they have a need in the first place if your offering is disruptive to the status quo.
Challenger messaging cuts through all the other noise by asking customer stakeholders questions like:
- Is your current solution addressing all of your needs?
- Is your current solution solving your problem in the most effective way?
- Is your current solution going to sustain you long-term?
Walking the customer through this thought process challenges their original thinking and, if done correctly, brings your company to top-of-mind, disrupts previous customer loyalty, and turns a ‘maybe’ into a ‘definitely’.
Where Did Challenger Messaging Come From?
The concept of challenger messaging originated from Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and the team at CEB Inc, who collaborated on “The Challenger Sale.”
This book outlines the success of high performers through the use of the Challenger Sales Model.
The approach is unlike other common sales methods as it emphasizes the importance of teaching the prospect, tailoring the process to suit that specific prospect’s need, and being in control of the conversation.
The challenger method isn’t just extremely effective for sales, it can be adapted for Marketers who have an uphill battle when it comes to crafting compelling messaging that builds awareness and guides an increasing number of risk-averse companies through the marketing funnel.
As we stated before, it can be hard to convince your buyer that they should abandon what they previously thought to be true and take a risk of investing in you.
But with effective challenger messaging, an opening emerges for you to disrupt traditional thinking and risk aversion and change the tide for the better while selling an investment to your buyer that will help them more in the long run.
Is Challenger Messaging Effective?
According to Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon, the challenger method dictates that there are five different types of sales reps. If you’re a marketer reading this, I “challenge” you not to discount this section.
With the ever-changing landscape requiring more targeted, aggressive marketing campaigns, marketing, and sales organizations must work hand-in-hand with sales to bring today’s risk-averse buyer full circle.
So, it’s important to understand the different types of sales reps and methods and understand why this new perspective is the most effective in a B2B environment.
Let’s take a look at the 5 profiles represented in the book:
1. The Hard Worker
The Hard Worker is a motivated individual who isn’t likely to give up. They constantly strive to improve themselves through feedback and are known to answer a call no matter the hour of the day, and are willing to bend over backward for their client.
2. The Challenger
The challenger method looks at the world from a different perspective and isn’t afraid to question and even push their client in the right direction. They understand the environment well and even though they may be controversial, they are strong performers.
3. The Relationship Builder
The Relationship Builder creates meaningful connections with their prospects. They’re people pleasers, making sure that the majority of their time is spent keeping prospects happy.
4. The Lone Wolf
The Lone Wolf is a confident salesman, guided by their own natural instincts to make a successful sale through making their own rules. Despite performing well, they tend to be hard to manage.
5. The Problem Solver
The Problem Solver ensures that if an issue arises, they handle it. They want their customers to know they can rely on them for whatever they need. They are responsive, detail-oriented and the sales interaction isn’t over until a resolution is achieved.
While there are pros and cons to all the profiles, according to The Challenger Method, challengers perform higher in B2B sales.
Research shows that 40% of top performers rely on the challenger method to make the sale and that it works particularly well in longer, more complex sales cycles.
In addition, top performers in solutions-oriented sales are twice as likely to use the challenger method versus any other during the sales process.
That’s an important takeaway for marketers because the customer conversation is not what it once was.
With more and more companies flocking to the internet to do their own research and avoiding sales reps entirely until the end of the sales cycle, it’s become marketing’s job to steer the buyer journey or lose the authority to risk aversion.
That’s why it’s important that B2B marketers get on board with challenger messaging as well.
How Marketers Can Implement Elements of The Challenger Sale
Introducing this method into messaging provides a valuable resource to consumers while also offering an alternative approach that pushes clients to question their traditional thought processes.
Here are some of the elements that marketers can use to develop challenger messaging for themselves.
Focus on the unique value drivers of your product or service as it relates to the customer’s business. To challenge buyers’ decision-making, salespeople must provide clear differentiation that shows them that your offering is the best choice.
Customize messaging by tailoring the value proposition to your buyer’s unique needs so that they second-guess their traditionally held beliefs.
Implement the Reframe
Challenger reps should share their knowledge of the customer’s business needs by reframing how they see their business and the problems it solves through commercial teaching and insight. This gives you the credibility and authority you need to sway them to change their thinking and regain control of the sale.
Lead with Authoritative Insight
Facts and figures are an easy sell when it comes to selling something and pushing people to challenge their thought processes. Numbers don’t lie, so if they’re thinking anything other than what the data shows them, it’s a good indicator that they need to take a second look.
Data is a good motivator and is an authoritative way to make a strong point in messaging.
Putting Challenger Messaging to Work
In an increasingly busy marketplace, it can be difficult to craft compelling messaging that cuts through the noise, gets the attention of your target market, and speaks directly to customer’s needs. Interrupt Media can help.
We are a boutique digital marketing agency and we specialize in creating tailored content strategies and aligned sales approach for businesses looking to disrupt with unique, targeted messaging. We can also help you streamline your sales process and align your sales training with marketing objectives.
Get in touch with us today to learn about our services and what we can do for you.