January 29, 2016

Communicating In a Way That B2B Technology Buyers Understand

When Words Fall On Deaf Ears

My wife doesn’t have a sports bone in her body—especially painful since she’s from the great sports town of Pittsburgh. She more than compensates with numerous qualities that actually matter, but it has been a source of miscommunication for over 20 years. And by miscommunication, I mean me talking and her not hearing a word I say—I’ve come to know how Charlie Brown’s teachers felt!

Putting myself in her shoes, she has suffered through 20+ years of my lips moving about the SF Giants, 49ers, Warriors, and pretty much any other sporting event that has been on or in the news at any given moment. Add to this a decade of fantasy football and, quite frankly, I’m lucky that we’re still married. And yet, as she is my best friend, I continue to move my lips on these very same subjects with the faintest hope of a different result—crazy, wouldn’t you say?

Case in point—during fantasy football season, I’m faced with weekly last minute decisions. The NFL Inactives report comes out and I’m obsessing over which set of wide receivers and running backs will help me win my head-to-head match. And most every week, I turn to my best friend for support on this last minute decision. “Wah waaah wah wah …”

Changing the Conversation

One Sunday, I was having a particularly difficult challenge regarding who to play—I believe it was Devonta Freeman vs. David Johnson—and needed to have a sounding board, and there she was. So, I tried something different.

We had recently been engaged with another family of four in a couple rounds of Dungeons and Dragons, so I said, “Honey, my question has nothing to do with sports, but I do need help in deciding which character would be best for a battle today. Would you use an elf, that has lower strength, but is likely to get a high volume of attempted hits or would you use a wizard, that may only get a couple of hits in, but could have a better chance at a critical hit?”

She smiled at me and told me to play my elf. She also told me that she really appreciated my effort to speak to her in a language that she understood! (Devonta Freeman had 193 total yards and 3 TDs, so I was happy too!)

Buyers Appreciate Being Talked to In Their Language!

And herein lies the rub, you don’t have 20 years to figure this out. When you get the opportunity to talk to the financial buyer, you better not bludgeon him or her with technobabble regarding the code that was used, integration points, databases, and other mind numbing features—Wah waaah wah wah.

The financial buyer is going to want to hear about business benefits—productivity gains, cost savings, opportunities to increase revenue, and ways to reduce risk. Moreover, if you make it to the office of the CFO, you will want to speak their language by including key financial metrics in the business case for your proposal—return on investment (ROI), net present value (NPV), and payback period. That way he or she can understand bottom line impacts regarding their P&L (profit and loss statement).

Conclusion

Hopefully your company provides resources to support you in this critical translation. You have solution engineers that cover your technical audience regarding architectures, specifications, white board sessions, and demos, so hopefully you have “financial engineers” or business consultants that support you with value messaging content, flexible ROI (return on investment) calculators, and field level business case analysis support.

If not, here is the shameless plug to give us a call—TFP has been acting as the financial engineer for numerous enterprise technology companies since 2000. We help companies improve the way they value, price and sell their B2B technology, including financial selling execution training that covers financial acumen, quantitative discovery, and value selling. Either way, demand this support or don’t be surprised when your message falls on deaf ears.

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