Last week at Forrester’s Marketing Forum, I had the pleasure of sitting three rows back from a panel discussion comprised of a who’s who of B2B marketing executives: Chris Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Autodesk; James K. Cornell, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Prudential Retirement; Deborah Nelson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Enterprise Business, Hewlett-Packard; Marjorie Tenzer, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, IBM Americas, IBM. The panel was moderated by Forrester’s own Peter Burris, Principal Analyst and Research Director.
Here’s 45 minutes of discussion distilled into four key takeaways:
Executives at large accounts with complex problems want more than your “solution” – and rarely have a line item in their budget for your offering. Instead, they have an initiative, with a goal, an objective…and a desired outcome. And they lament that salespeople are often unprepared to have a discussion about the buyer’s issues and where they can help.
A customer’s desire for a business outcome is an important force that’s separating strategic vendors from commodity suppliers. We think that this idea of an outcome — in fact, an emerging Outcome Economy —needs to be clearly understood as being different from simply providing solutions and benefits. So what is the difference? Are you selling outcomes for your key customers? How would you know? And how can you help account teams have conversations about them?
We’re interested in your thoughts on what qualifies, in the customer’s eyes, as an outcome. Here are our initial thoughts. What are we missing? What would you change?