A recent Marketing Profs post* provides a new perspective on an old problem: communicating differentiated value through “unconsidered needs.” In this post, we’re going to add another layer to that discussion with a slightly different distinction between those “unconsidered needs” and what we’re calling “undiscovered needs.”
The background story is becoming a familiar one. With the growing abundance of accessible and affordable technology solutions, courtesy of the cloud and mobile computing, technology is becoming increasingly commoditized. Add to this the number of details, including price points, available via a quick online search (if not the vendor’s own website) and it’s easy to see why buyers require fewer interactions with sales teams to develop their short list of favourable vendors. The ubiquitousness of both solutions and information creates a highly competitive environment, driving vendors to discount their pricing as their differentiating value. By the time prospects are engaging in a conversation with sales, their interest is largely in negotiating the best price.
Case in point; a recent HBR article quoted a CSO as saying, ‘Our customers are coming to the table armed to the teeth with a deep understanding of their problem and a well-scoped RFP for a solution. It’s turning many of our sales conversations into (simply) fulfilment conversations.’
It’s a vicious cycle perpetuating a perspective of commoditized solutions. With the sharpest contrast between vendors being price points, it falls to marketers to reframe the buyer’s perspective with better positioning.
To avoid being perceived as simply “another” vendor – and lumped into a one-size-fits-all price comparison – your messaging has to create contrast between your solution and that of your competitors. Conventional content strategies begin with gaining a firm understanding of who your buyer is, as well as what their needs and problems are, in order for you to then develop messaging which resonates with this target audience. While this is indeed where you want to begin, creating contrast against your competitors requires you to take your strategy further by discovering not just the unmet needs of your prospects, but by helping them understand their, as yet, undiscovered and unconsidered needs.
Undiscovered needs fall in the realm of insight selling and thought leadership, focusing around emerging needs and alternative perspectives that buyers might not yet have considered or even be aware of. Both of these strategies call for vendors to position themselves as industry insiders and sources buyers will look to for industry insights. As we’ve blogged before, these approaches require you to become expert on all things affecting your target market’s business, including topic areas that help you “see around corners,” such as pending regulations, or trends in related industries which will reverberate within your prospect’s own. While prospects nowadays tend to approach vendors with a well-defined set of needs, you can capitalize on your insightful knowledge and out-of-the-box thinking, by letting prospects know which questions they should be asking, revealing needs they didn’t know they had. Properly done, these strategies engage prospects early in their buyer’s journey, aiding them in their problem-solving process.
Alternatively, unconsidered needs asks you to determine how you can better address and bring value to your prospect’s underserved target markets. Can your solution help them expand their market, increase market share, or shave costs in places not previously considered?
Answering these questions, as well as gaining the valuable insights necessary regardless of which strategy you adopt, requires you to first acquire a deep understanding of your buyer and their market(s). Talking to your prospects about their known needs, can help you identify additional unmet needs. Prospect surveys are a great way of engaging buyers in such conversations. So, too, can you use these same surveys to pose questions which reveal the issues you believe prospects should be contemplating regarding their undiscovered and unconsidered needs.
As the Marketing Profs article says, “…selling to unconsidered [and undiscovered!] needs will improve your ability to create contrast, prove differentiation, and relieve the pricing pressure your salespeople are facing.”
See how Kronos used a prospect survey to discover the undiscovered and unconsidered needs of dining industry management. Download the SimplyDIRECT Kronos Pulse Report. Click the image below.
Reference* Tim Riesterer, Marketing Profs, 08.02.13 – Is Unwanted Price Discounting Actually a Marketing Problem?