I’m currently analyzing the results of an unusually effective web survey. The survey provides surprising insights into the reasons why people don’t want to buy my client’s solution online, or why they don’t see any value in it whatsoever, irrespective of the sales channel.
With bad news so readily available at the moment, it might seem odd that anyone would go looking for more of it. But even in good times, I find very few companies that actively seek out information about the reasons that buyers say “no.” This is unfortunate, as the potential for a buyer to drop out as the sales cycle progresses is one of the leading causes of poor marketing ROI.
When I know why a certain type of buyer is likely to start a deal but not complete it, I can prove to the sales people that there is a pattern to the issues that concern potential buyers, and that marketing has created the ammunition to win deals within targeted segments.
Those of you who know me should be surprised that I’m writing about the merits of a survey. I have always recommended qualitative techniques (mostly interviews) for real insights into buyer behavior. Surveys, by definition, only give me answers to the questions that I know to ask. Interviews allow me to change my questions based on any individual buyer’s responses. This flexibility allows me to uncover new aspects of buyer concerns, delving deeper into topics that a particular buyer finds most compelling.
But this survey produced very useful results, primarily because of its unusual focus on the reasons that buyers would say no. So far as I know the company conducted only a single interview before launching the survey, adding only a few questions that were not in the first draft (it looks like that was a great addition though).
The survey was conducted through a website that is well respected among a wide array of the company’s potential customers. A drawing with $1,000 in prizes encouraged more than 500 people to respond within just a few weeks.
We are still analyzing the results of this research. But this much is already apparent — for a relatively small investment of time and budget, this company has identified:
– previously unexplored market segments where buying criteria (the high priority capabilities that buyers use to evaluate a purchase) appear to be well aligned with the company’s capabilities.
– market segments that they should avoid altogether — their offering is unsuitable for these buyers and any investment in marketing to them would result in poor sales conversion rates or dissatisfied customers
– building blocks for messaging and program strategies.
As it turns out a survey was probably the most efficient way for this company to begin the difficult process of choosing new market segments for their solution. Part of it was the site where the survey was offered — a web-site well-trafficked by a people representing their potential market segments. But the most important component was that they sincerely wanted to hear the negative feedback about their idea.