Thought leadership is important. Helping customers rethink what they are doing, to consider making a change, inciting them to buy is important. Thought leadership helps us stand out as being different than others. Having a point of view, creates interest. Others will want to learn more.
We, sometimes, think of thought leadership as insight. It helps us change the conversation to something that is more relevant to our customers, rather than focusing on pitching our products. Customers want to talk about their challenges, issues, problems, and opportunities. They are hungry for ideas, insight, and new approaches.
So thought leadership is important in catching our customers’ attention, getting them to consider change.
But then, they get into the process of figuring out what to do, why, and how to move forward in their problem solving/buying process. The work is less about provoking them to change, but managing all the issues, risks, uncertainties, doubts related to the making the changes. It’s deeply personal, it’s unique to the customer at a moment in time.
They are searching for answers, more importantly, they are searching for confidence.
This is, perhaps, the biggest challenge our customers face, navigating the issues around making a change, aligning diverse priorities and agendas, learning what they should look for, making sense of the overwhelming amount of information available to them, understanding the risks, managing the shifts in priority within their organization.
We focus on thought leadership to incite people to change, yet the majority of committed buying journeys end in no decision made. The customers want to change (or at least have convinced themselves of this), but fail to complete the process.
For those that do make a purchase, many have decision regret, they worry, “Have we done the right thing?”
Thought leadership does little to help the customer in this process. They need more, they need help in managing the process and building their confidence in what they are doing.
Our focus is usually on convincing the customer to select our product/solution. But choosing the product is probably not what drives their concern. There’s much more around helping them successfully navigate and complete their problem solving/buying process.
Once we’ve incited them to change, we create the greatest value when we help them navigate the process to completion, helping them address issues of indecision, re-prioritization, alignment, or losing interest.
Afterword: I’ve been privileged to take a look at Matt Dixon’s and Ted McKenna’s new book, Jolt! It presents fascinating perspective and research on indecision and how we can help buyers complete their buying process. Be sure to order an advanced copy!