We have made a concerted effort to discover research data on a theme that has repeatedly cropped up in our clients’ content strategy projects over the course of the past year: almost all the companies that engage in B2B business share the desire to gain access to those who make the decisions.
There’s a throng of people outside that top-tier management’s corner office, waiting for their chance to have a say, to sell and discuss. Meanwhile, what is the main focus for management? Their goal is to motivate their employees and to inspire commitment and involvement in order to garner support for their reform proposals. In this situation, who has the final say? Yes – the staff, experts and ordinary workers.
Encouraging involvement among knowledge workers and building a positive employer image as drivers
Several academic studies offer insight into the phenomena taking place within companies. This is how Canadian academics analysed the situation a couple of years ago:
‘Insufficient employee participation in decision-making in turn leads to low levels of employee job satisfaction and employee commitment. Lack of employee commitment and engagement affects the employee’s intention to quit.’
Researchers Steven H. Appelbaum, Damien Louis, Dmitry Makarenko, Jasleena Saluja, Olga Meleshko and Sevag Kulbashian, Canada 2014.
Commitment can be inspired by inviting involvement, giving power to make decisions, asking questions and offering opportunities to have a say. While management guides the operations – and of course makes the final decisions – ordinary employees have more influence as ultimately, they are the ones whose work and tasks are affected by the new services and solutions purchased.
For marketing professionals, this means that employees are not only the concern of after-sales marketing or customer services – they are also a group with real decision-making power. (Source)A company’s employees have real decision-making power – and marketing professionals should take this into account!Click To Tweet
Anyone whose work your solution will change influences the purchase decision
Digitalisation changes work – whether you are an office worker, installer, repair engineer, technician, researcher or HR manager. The new tools, systems and applications will have an impact on your day-to-day work. That’s why I believe the signals that indicate that rank-and-file employees are gaining more sway over purchase decisions. It’s not hard to imagine the personnel’s response if they are expected to use tools without having a say in their selection – and then the tools prove unsuitable!
What, then, is the best course of action for B2B marketers? How can you question the status quo within your organisation? How and where should your efforts be focused?
1. Identify the group that benefits from your system
Increase your knowledge of your customers. Who are the people that benefit most from your service or product in their daily tasks? How would the change affect them? What is the content that would make the change easier for them and help them successfully adopt the new product or service?
2. Ensure that your customer has all the information required for the planning of the project
In your customer’s organisation, who are the people that participate in the planning of the project and who decides which projects are proposed to management? What are the challenges they are trying to solve and what are their motives? Figure out what kind of information they require to make the decision. Offer them all the background information they need to complete the project successfully.
3. Sell to management
Consider factors and issues that help management to identify their must-win battles and situations.Produce examples and infographics that illustrate the overall picture and benefits at a glance. In addition, offer content that enables management to engage in efficient communication on the reform.
4. Influence the users
Attract and engage users before the sales stage! Management will listen to the employees’ views of the product or service before deciding whether to buy. Wow the end users from the word go. Offer them online content that clarifies the changes that are to take place and offers them practical support in various situations that they face in their day-to-day work. Provide updates on practices that other organisations adopt.
Have you thought of analysing whether you are focusing on the right target groups?
We are here to help – get in touch!
Paula Savonen & Katri Tanni