7 reasons why B2B businesses with good products or services still fail to win customers

If you’re sitting there now wondering how other B2B businesses are getting clients through their door whilst your phone doesn’t seem to have rung in weeks – the problem could lie in your message. Your website, your blog, your social media, your e-newsletter and your marketing literature (brochures) – these are what your target audience will look at to decide whether they want to become your client and it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at Google AdWords or any other PPC marketing channel, if your message isn’t right – your phones won’t ring.

Below we’ve listed 7 common problems associated with how you choose to communicate who you are to your customers. We’d love to hear your comments if you can come up with more “message faux pas”.

They use complicated language / jargon
Accountants, solicitors and technology entrepreneurs are by far the biggest culprits when it comes to using complicated language but every business sector has its nuances and no business should assume it’s immune. Spending your days completely emerged in your sector means you start to assume that because you use certain language on a day to day basis, everyone outside your sector must know what it is.

If someone comes to your website, reads your brochure or listens to you speak and they don’t understand what they’re reading or hearing, they very quickly either (i) assume that the message is not meant for them or (ii) glaze over and stop listening. Speaking in complex language does not impress potential clients – it’s switches them off (unexplained acronyms have the same effect) so don’t assume knowledge. Try to keep things simple.

They speak to the wrong audience
This follows closely on from the first reason. Many businesses write their website content, the blogs, their brochures and their social media content as if they’re speaking to someone within the same industry… even from the same type of company. They’re not thinking about their audience, what they might be interested in reading or what their needs might be.

They don’t explain what they do
It sounds sooooo obvious but you would be amazed how many businesses don’t explain what they do. Their website and reading literature either completely ignores the need to tell the audience who / what they are, or they get themselves caught up in an “elevator pitch” style explanation which is full of clichés and doesn’t actually mean anything. Take a look at your website and marketing literature now – is it obvious what you do? Being well known in your industry doesn’t mean you’re well known to new potential customers so don’t let this be an excuse not to revisit your message.

They don’t explain the value of what they offer
Explaining what your business does is a good start but if you really want to turn website visitors and blog /brochure readers into potential customers, you need to explain why what you sell matters to these people. How is it going to add value / change their lives or their business? If you had to choose between two accountancy firms; one said “I’m an accountant” and the other said “I’m an accountant and I can help you pay less tax so you’ll have more money to invest in growing your business” – which one would you choose?

Think about your product or service and why people want to buy it. Think about why they should choose you and not your competitor. What makes you different and what makes you the right choice?

They get too technical
If you sell a software or technology product – or you offer complex or technical services to other businesses, you might feel inclined to offer a highly detailed technical explanation of them (i) so discerning customers can understand what they’re getting and (ii) to demonstrate your technical knowledge and abilities. The truth is, unless you’re an online shop selling technology items (laptops, audio equipment, TV’s), providing in-depth technical knowledge of your product or service could be causing more harm than good.

We often work with IT Support companies who insist on having a wealth of highly technical information about computer hardware/networks on their website and further technical information in their blogs on how to resolve key issues. The reality though, is that the person choosing whether to sign a contract with that support company, is unlikely to be making their decision from a technical standpoint. They will be making a strategic decision as to whether your service can meet their business needs. In the case of IT Support Companies, it’s about levels of service, whether you can support their business growth, cutting costs and using IT to gain a strategic advantage. None of that will involve looking at an in-depth technical account of the latest internet router.

This all comes back to point 2 on our list. Are you speaking to the wrong audience? Who is the person that will actually make the buying decision about your product or service? That’s who you need to speak to. If they want more technical information, they can always ask.

They give too much information
This follows on nicely from the point above. Your potential customers don’t need to know absolutely everything about you and your business, they just need to know if you can solve their problems. Instead of going into an elaborate and lengthy sales pitch as to why you’re the greatest, take a moment to identify your target audience(s). Write down a bit about what type of person/ business they are (for example they are a CEO of a £1-5 million technology company). Next write down what their goals might be (for example to increase profits, minimise risk, deliver to shareholders). Now write down reasons as to why they might not be able to achieve those goals (currency fluctuations, unreliable supply chain, cyber threat etc.).

Now that you have a good understanding of who you are trying to talk to, you can begin to see how your product or service can become important to them. You can understand why they might need it to solve their problems and you can write very targeted (and brief) messaging which shows you understand them and most importantly, that you can help. Leave the lengthy “cover every eventuality” written pieces to you competitors.

They don’t push their message out to the right locations… or don’t push it out at all
If you’ve spent so much time getting your message right, you’ll want to make sure people read it. Oddly, there are many companies who still believe that simply having a website is enough. If people search for a product or service, you’ll miraculously come up near the top of the pile and hey presto… you’ll be inundated with sales. Sadly, that’s not the case. It’s also not the case that you can pump a load of money into Google AdWords and expect great results. Our experience has led us to believe that Google AdWords actually delivers one of the lowest returns on investment (ROI) when compared to other popular advertising mediums.

So where should you be advertising your product or service? Well, that all depends on where your target customer “hangs out”. If you sell to other businesses, LinkedIn is generally a foregone conclusion. If you sell visually appealing products or what you do could have quite a “geeky” (for want of a better term) following – Instagram works well. There’s been some great examples of electricians and network engineers photographing their wiring/ cabling projects and gaining HUGE followings. Engineering and architectural projects can have similar success. Houzz is a must for anything relating to home and garden design. Twitter is a really great all-rounder and Facebook works particularly well for venues (pubs, restaurants etc.) and events.

Outside of the traditional social media channels, don’t forget advertising (or at least having a presence) on specialist forums and of course, sending out a regular e-newsletter.

The most important thing to remember when you embark on pushing out your message, is measurement. Don’t assume something will or won’t work until you’ve tried it. If we received a pound for every time someone said to us “we don’t think Twitter is for us” – we’d be knee deep in pound coins. The truth is, for the majority of our clients, Twitter becomes either their no.1 or no.2 marketing channel. Understand what you expect to achieve from your advertising, be prepared to try new ideas and if something is not working, stop spending time, effort and money on it and look for something better.

So there you go. 7 reasons why B2B businesses with good products or services still fail to win customers. Can you think of any more? We’d love you to tell us about them in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

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