Three types of customers: long-shot, convertible and available
In our first article on B3B marketing for additive manufacturing companies, influencers and validators and deciders, oh my, we covered the three distinct players in the buying cycle. For the second installment in our series on how innovative B2B 3D printer brands are benefitting from sales and marketing alignment, we'll explore the three types of customers in the marketplace, how your sales and marketing departments can identify where a potential customer fits, and how to adapt messaging and allocate resources appropriately.
The B2B 3D printer marketplace is a broad and expansive universe. Your potential customers all sit at different points within this space, closer or farther from your gravitational pull. When your sales and marketing teams identify where customers fit in the space, you can make meaningful connections and pull those potential clients closer to your orbit.
There are three types of potential customers in the B2B 3DP space: long-shot, convertible and available.
Long-shot customers: playing the long game
The long-shot customers’ place in the space is tight to the status quo and farthest from your orbit. They might be in an industry that's just starting to explore 3D printing. They have some interest but are waiting to see what the early adopters in their industry do first and learn from them.
They likely don't yet know they have a problem you can solve. You'll need to first sell them on 3D printing, then sell them on your particular solution.
The chances of you snagging one of these customers are slim. It’s important to spend no more than the appropriate portion of your limited resources on long-shots. Word-of-mouth buzz from your happy customers and earned media in trade-specific publications can help move these customers closer to your orbit, but be prepared to play the long game.
If your sales team is highly competitive and loves a challenge, they might be spending more energy in this space than they should. If they're using the same marketing materials designed for available customers, their efforts can be less effective. Make sure the sales and marketing teams are on the same page about the motivations and needs of long-shot customers, and work to develop messaging and materials specifically for them.
Convertible customers: show them a better way
Convertible customers are already sold on 3D printing and are using it to some level of satisfaction. Winning them over to your side will take work, but it’s worth a concerted effort.
Their current solution might be deeply ingrained in their day-to-day-operations, even if they're unhappy — jumping ship would be messy and costly. They've identified a problem that you're in a position to solve, but they’re still far from your orbit. If you can articulate why you’re a viable alternative, you can start to break down their barriers to sale.
Your solution will have to be demonstrably better than what they currently have. Your product team has a valuable spot at the table when determining how best to appeal to these convertible customers. If you can develop technology that specifically exploits your competitors' weaknesses and you position that technology in a way that alleviates the pain they're currently feeling, you can convert the convertible customer.
Offer a side-by-side comparison of what they have and what you have to offer. Identify and exploit what they hate about their current solution and turn it into what they’ll love about yours.
Available customers: a two-way street
While communicating with long-shot and convertible customers is mostly a one-way street, engaging available customers is a two-way conversation. They're just as likely to find you as you are to find them.
Convertible customers are actively seeking a better solution or they’re new to the market. They have no current attachment to either the status quo or one of your competitors.
They're weighing what you have to offer against other solutions — they can decide whether or not you're a viable option before you even know they exist. If your brand positioning directly addresses their problem and demonstrates your unique ability to solve it, they might initiate a conversation.
It’s important that your brand identity aligns with their values. SEO, content marketing, webinars and case studies all can help make an emotional connection with the available customer. Your marketing efforts can pull them in and your sales efforts can close the deal.
Recognize the longer sales cycle and lower close rate for long-shot and convertible customers, but resist the urge to focus solely on the available customer.
Find the right balance
Finding the right balance of resources and effort to devote to long-shot, convertible and available customers is key to sales and marketing alignment. Identify which space a potential customer occupies and plan your sales and marketing efforts accordingly. Available customers typically get the lion’s share of marketing efforts. However, there are times when reaching deeper into space to convertible and long-shot customers makes sense. Recognize the longer sales cycle and lower close rate for long-shot and convertible customers, but resist the urge to focus solely on the available customer. Set realistic goals, track and measure your efforts, and adjust accordingly.
Next: mapping the buyer journey
Most companies have a strong understanding of their customer's path to purchase but have never actually documented it. Next up in our series on sales and marketing alignment for B2B 3D printer brands, we'll cover how to map out your buyer's journey.
Other articles in this series:
Part 5: The power of positioning
Part 3: Mapping the buyer journey
About Toolbox Creative:
Toolbox Creative is a B2B Brand Engineering firm, helping the 3D Printing, Ag Tech and Clean Tech industries change the world. We distill complex technologies into powerful identity systems, websites and marketing tactics that align sales and marketing efforts, create lasting impact and build brand love.