The concept of a sales cycle (or process) generally refers to a buyer and the various mental states he passes through on his way to a “buying decision.” But, should we focus on a “buyer” or a B2B buying team.
B2B Buyer or B2B Buying Team?
An intriguing post on Gartner’s blog suggests a different way to think about the sales cycle for B2B technology. Titled “Teams, Streams, and Provider Dreams,” their post offers a high-level view of findings from Gartner’s recent Research report “The B2B Customer Buying Cycle for Technology Products and Services” [subscription required].
Initially drawn to it because the author is a long-ago client of ours [on this project], I was so intrigued by his re-imagining of the tired old “buying cycle” graphic. And, as I am convinced that you, the reader, would be too, I decided to make the illustration of the concept easier to grasp (it took me a while to figure it out) with some simple animation.
Implications for video content
The animated video above makes you wonder about the implications for video content.
For example, we always try to get our clients to define the audience for a video as narrowly as possible, so we don’t waste screen time on things the viewer doesn’t care about or doesn’t need to be told.
If, instead, at the beginning of a video project, we took into account the different interests of buying team members, we could devise cost-effective ways to address each. Maybe tweak or swap out some sections of the video, as we sometimes do for different vertical markets. If the information is about software, parts of the video depicting the software in use, use cases, and customer references could be held constant, but we could lead with a different problem setup. Or, we might decide to allocate part of the budget to a shorter introductory video designed for a broad audience, and the rest to a slower-paced in-depth demo for more technical folks to be viewed at a later stage in the sales process.
It’s also worth noting that for team members who enter an activity stream late in the cycle, videos help them catch up faster. Fortunately, video is very easy to share.
The cost of video[s]
If you think of “video” in terms of the cost per each, some alarming numbers may come into your head: one for this audience, a different version for that, a long one, a short one, and so forth. That could add up to real money.
But, while you need to account for these videos as deliverables. Writers and producers can figure out ways to ways to repurpose graphics, vary visual styles and production values, and otherwise cut corners, in order to produce several videos within a given budget.
It’s often overlooked that the biggest opportunities for maximizing your video budget come early in the process — when the script is being written. A good writer can come up with several ways to package the information viewers want within a reasonable budget. To be sure, that may place constraints on length and style, but that’s an opportunity for the writer to demonstrate how clever he is. Most writers love that.
While there are some firms that provide a script for next-to-nothing in order get the graphics work, and others that will create graphics based on your script, the most successful B2B videos are the ones where a proven writer works hard on the script(s). Unlike Hollywood, the B2B script writer’s fees are most likely based on time. And a lot of time will go to getting to understand your product and its customers. A skillful writer can easily and cost-effectively re-imagine this knowledge, with additions and subtractions, in a variety of scripts and styles.
So, one approach to dealing with teams, streams and videos would be to establish a reasonable budget up front, and work with a writing/production team to come up with the most effective set of videos that fit it.