My answer to How can you start to become a successful marketer?
Answer by Ken Larson:
Understanding the nature of market research is vital.
“Research is not about whether people “like” or don’t like something. No business should ever use the word “like.” Like is not a design word and has nothing to do with any business goal. It’s just a reported mental attitude with no necessary connection to behavior. (Same thing with “hate”: I may hate The Newsroom, but I still watch it. Why? The better to hate it.)
In market research, this is known as the difference between “declared preference” — the fruit of focus groups — and “revealed preference” or reality.
Yet focus groups are not research; they’re research theater. They tell us very little about how real people behave in the real world. The brilliant sociologist and father of focus groups Robert K. Merton later lamented their misuse in replacing research: “Even when the subjects are well selected, focus groups are supposed to be merely the source of ideas that need to be researched.”
When the research focuses on what people actually do (watch cat videos) rather than what they wish they did (produce cinema-quality home movies) it actually expands possibilities. But a common concern and excuse for not doing research is that it will limit creative possibilities to only those articulated by the target users, leaving designers devising a faster horse (lame) rather than a flying car (rad).”
Understanding Value Based Marketing is also important.
Value-based marketing does not relate to client perception of your product or service value; rather, it relates to your understanding of the client and using that knowledge to motivate that client to buy. It includes answering the following 5 strategic questions:
1. Who is your client? (personal traits and proclivities)
2. Where is your client located in the organization and what role and authority does he or she hold?
3. What are the driving factors that will motivate the client to make a buying decision in your favor?
4. How to best lead the individual client to the conclusion you wish them to make in buying your product or service?
5. Why is your product or service the best to further the client's personal value system and motives?
Combine the details of your product or service with some transition suggestions regarding how a client can make the leap from where they are now to where you can take them without totally disrupting how they operate at time now.
Understand that to sell the services and the product you are offering you must provide a bridge for those who do not have your vision of the end game.
It is a simple fact of life that your sales techniques must provide practical suggestions in getting your client off a blank sheet of paper as to how your concept could be brought internally to their organization. That can only occur if you are sharp enough and aware enough of their existing processes and systems, status, plans, budgets and funding to offer them a path to follow. This type of market research is a tough order but you will not sell effectively without it.
Sometimes clients will not disclose personal values and organization value systems until you are engaged with them and at that time you must be sympathetic to transition issues, think on your feet and evolve a way to get to your sales objective; not just insist that they change dramatically to accommodate your concept.
Ask the client questions about what you know or have found their needs to be. Then take them to where your presentation has solutions for them; engage them on a solutions frequency and make your concept of the future theirs. A key will be your ability to make the client want to own your product or service in their environment and your assistance to make them as individuals look good for acquiring what you sell to increase their visibility and productivity in the organization.
Consider the values of the client your are engaging and threaten or further his or her value system. To do so, find out what they value first. It may not be what you value – or what you believe they should value; but you are stuck with those values and the value system backing them up. In many cases they are political, self-serving and disappointing but you cannot ignore them. You must manage them. You must threaten or further those value systems to get your customer to act. Furthering client values is a positive view of the future, enhancing what the client already has. Threatening client values is making the client feel he or she cannot undertake the future effectively without buying from you.