Q. In what ways do business owners purchase technical products differently from you or me?

A. They don’t

You probably can’t believe that someone actually funded a study to tell you this — but they did and I am SO GLAD. Ivy Worldwide is a social media, marketing and word of mouth company conducted a study of how business owners from small and medium companies actually purchase technical equipment.

PEOPLE Make Buying Decisions – Not Titles

I know I’m being sarcastic about this, but I’m just so TIRED of arguing with sales and marketing executives and business owners about how “their customer” isn’t like you and me — as if they had 4 arms and 6 eyes or something. These “special” buyers were “professionals” or they were “industrial” and so their buying process was different.

My point has consistently been that ALL buying decisions are made by human beings. People like you and me; who had a cup of coffee in the morning, who kissed their kids goodbye on their way to work, who purchased product for their personal use AND for professional use, Why would they need to be treated differently. I’d argue that justifying $10,000 worth of appliances requires more justification to your spouse than you’d have to supply to your management team :).

The 6 Insights You Need to GET to Sell Your Stuff

I’m not going to sugar coat this for you because every minute that you’re not realizing these facts, you are losing sales and boring your prospects to tears.

INSIGHT #1 – THEY SEARCH TOO!

When your customer is interested in purchasing a technical product the first thing they do is get online and search to figure out WHAT they want. I’ll bet you do that too. If you hadn’t purchased a TV in 10 years, and you decided that it was time for one of those flat screens, then you’d want to understand exactly what features you wanted or were important to you. For example, do you want 60Hz or 120Hz? Do you want your set to have WiFi capability? ?There are lots of criteria that you need to figure out because technology changes quickly and you don’t want to make the wrong decision.

What to Do: Get your SEO strategy together. Find an SEO expert and make sure that you are one of the first thre
Your customer hasn’t decided on a brand while they are searching. No surprise there. Technical products change quickly, different brands choose different features to enhance — so it doesn’t make sense for your customer to choose a brand FIRST.

INSIGHT #2 – THEY GET REFERRALS

Once they’ve got their list of criteria and they’ve narrowed down some brands they think will fit the bill — they go out looking for referrals. Obviously, they’ll hit the web and read any reviews on your product or service. They will also search their network to see who else has recently purchased something similar and what their experience with the product or service has been.

What to do: Obviously, you should start collecting testimonials and asking your customers to fill out reviews on your local listings. Remember, customers are people too — and they use mobile devices — just like you do. They will be sitting in the doctor’s office waiting and searching on your product. Why not get really bold and have some video testimonials. Check out these videos from a new tech product targeted to university students called “Kno”

Reaction Video F1 from Kno, Inc. on Vimeo.

INSIGHT #3 – 33% PRICE, 25% RECOMMENDATION, 18% DUAL USE

Price is slightly more important than a third-party referral in their decision to purchase your product. But not far behind is your product or service’s ability to be useful for BOTH business and personal use.

What to do: Make it abundantly clear what your competitive advantage is and price accordingly. Be bold say something like “We are the only refrigerator that has shelves on the left side IN ADDITION to the ice dispenser!” If that feature is important to your customer – they will be willing to pay for it.

INSIGHT #4 – SOCIAL MEDIA DOESN’T EFFECT DECISION

A friend of mine said it extremely well. When people are on Twitter or Facebook — they are reading, interacting and casually learning stuff. When people want to BUY something, they go to eBay.

What to do: Use social media to educate your audience and demonstrate your product or service and NOT to sell people stuff.

INSIGHT #5 – BUY ONLINE

70% of the respondents purchased?technical product online. The good news is that if you give your customers a great experience on the web and provide them the testimonials and recommendations that they need, they will be ready to purchase online.

What to do: Make sure that you are easy to find, that customers can experience your product or service and then purchase quickly and easily online.

INSIGHT#6 – BIG COMPANIES ARE ALIENATING BUYERS

Most big companies (especially the technical ones) try to appeal to the corporate mentality of buyers. This is where respondents felt that these providers missed the mark. Companies they mentioned that do a good job of selling to them are Microsoft, HP and Dell. This isn’t surprising – but what IS surprising is that only 3% mentioned Apple as a brand that appeals to them.

What to do: Make your web site more consumer friendly. I just recently purchased Office 2010 online and found the web site to be extremely helpful in making my decision. Eliminate corporate speak and jargon from your web site, written and demo communication. Google is one of my favorite examples of a technical company that makes their applications easy to understand and accessible.

Download the study for yourself and see what improvements you can make!