When Buyer Experience Goes Wrong Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Ken Rutsky

Creating great experiences for your buyers sounds straightforward, right? 

In B2B sales, the playbook is tried and true:

  1. Identify and qualify if the lead has a business need for your solution
  2. Discover their requirements and shape the success criteria
  3. Facilitate an evaluation, whether a sandboxed demo environment, a proof of concept (POC), a trial, or even a pilot program

As the people running the deal, you’ve done your part and are ready to drive consensus around a purchase. 

The deal seems like a go. You did everything right, met the buyer’s criteria, demonstrated ROI and ran the POC to perfection. Yet later that day, the rep gets this email:

Dear most awesome Rep,

The POC did exactly what you said it would. And I have no argument with the ROI you are proposing. Your product is amazing and it’s been great to work with you and especially your awesome Sales Engineer Dale on the POC, you and the product did everything you promised.  

But I’m afraid that the project is not approved. The ROI is great, but there are actually 9 other projects, not competitive with yours, that the team has to tackle, and all of them have great ROIs too, my boss says yours is 5th or 6th in line.  

They said the other projects are just more strategic to the outcomes we need to accomplish, and while they believe in what we are doing, the team can’t take this one on yet. We will have to put it on hold for at least 2 quarters. But when we are ready to invest in a solution in your category, it will definitely be yours. The competitive offerings don’t even come close to comparing!

I’m sorry, I tried to convince them, but it’s just not fitting in their strategic plan. We need to transform our company and our department, and this project has to wait.

Thanks for all the amazing support and effort of you and your team, you are truly experts in what you do, and I have learned so much from all of you.

Thanks again, Pat

Let’s step back and pull this apart. 

  • First, we have a great product and the champion loves it.  
  • Second, we have agreed that the product has a very good ROI and the POC was flawless
  • Third, we whipped the competition
  • But unfortunately, it did not make “the cut”.

Doesn’t that stink. Now in general, you might want to blame sales for this failure, and sometimes, that may be the case. But much more likely we should blame the message, not the messenger.

I’d posit that we failed because we did not tell the right story. I see three likely mistakes with our message, and sadly I see these happen ALL the time, at both the deal-by-deal level and at the overall go-to-market level.  

  • First, we over-valued value. In today’s world, ROI is table stakes, but it won’t get the deal. It’s a checkbox item for validating a purchase but rarely drives one.
  • Second, we focused too much on our product, making it the hero, instead of making our customer the hero
  • And third, we failed to include the Return on Strategy in our message. What is the transformative strategic value we deliver to the account that our champion can prove only we can provide? If only our champion were armed with this, we are much more likely to be above the line, not below it.

So facilitating a successful buying experience requires that we connect them not just to the tangible value in your solution but to strategic and transformative outcomes. And if you make your customer the hero, and your product their magical transformative power, you can do just that. So don’t just manage your customer’s experience, but help them to be part of an amazing journey to business success. Then the email you get will sound more like this:

Dear Amazing Rep,

I’ve got great news. The project is a big go from my boss. They said that they have never seen such a compelling case for a strategic investment, and this has now risen to the top of our priorities because it directly drives one of our key transformation needs.  

I could go on and on about the ROI, the flawless POC, and your’s and Dale’s efforts, but at the end of the day, the solution is simply magical. We are ready to sign as soon as you are, and need to get implemented this quarter, my boss is demanding that!

Let’s get started tomorrow, Pat

And that’s the magic of telling a great story and making it the driving purpose of your buyer’s experience.

About Ken Rutsky

Ken helps B2B growth company executives in sales, marketing, and the C-Suite to breakthrough and achieve and grow market leadership in new and existing markets. His clients not only lead, but they also improve key sales and marketing metrics like leads to revenue and opportunities to close. 

Ken believes that story matters most, in making the customer the hero of our stories, and in telling our stories with consistency, veracity, and ferocity through experience, buyer, and product-led go-to-market programs. You can learn more about Ken and his services at Kenrutsky.com

Ken Rutsky June 28, 2022