The elements of value: why B2B buyers buy the things they buy

Why do people buy from you? The answer to that question is now more tangible than ever.

Ask the question above to your average sales and marketing profile, and they’ll probably answer something along the lines of “our personal service”, “our unbeatable price” or simply “quality.” In some rare instances, it’s an innovation or expertise only available to the organization.

The knowledge of why people buy your solutions is critical however, because

  1. it magnifies the relevance of your communication
    you know full well which aspects of your solution (or brand) you should emphasize
  2. and it improves the overall value of your product
    your product managers know how what elements to build on in the future

The only thing is: few marketers don’t know where to look. Running a customer survey is a costly affair, in time, effort and funds. And even when you go through the lengths of doing the survey: what questions will you ask? More often than not, you’ll start from some assumptions you want to check, which in reality only make up part of the picture.

Your customers too can – in their attempts to rationalize their choice for your solution – leave their true motivations unknown.

Enter, the B2B Elements of Value: a pyramid made up of discrete elements of added value, developed by Bain & Company. The model helps you grasp like no other what truly matters for your customers, and B2B buyers in general.

To see the elements is to understand them. So be sure to take a look on the Bain & Company page, or check out the Harvard Business Review article. The latter will provide a bit more context. If all goes well, you shouldn’t hit a paywall with any of the links.

Don’t have the time to work your way through all the content? These are our top takeaways

_It’s all about added value

Nope, your customers don’t base their decision solely on price. They make an intuitive trade-off between the added value they get and the price they pay. The discrete components of that added value, is what you find in the Elements of Value.

_The more, the merrier

Do you score above average on multiple elements? Then you’ll see some great returns over time. Bain has worked out that high performance in more elements translates to higher customer loyalty and profitability.

_Do communicate succinctly

However tempting it is to work every relevant piece of value into your communication, be sure not to overload your messaging too much. Rather, try to build out your own hierarchy for your brand or solutions, and put forward the single most important element in your headline and proposition.

_Ask your customers

The best way to know where your value lies, is to ask your customers. This time, after all, you’re starting from a full picture of what that value might be. So try to test your assumptions in a formal survey or casual conversation. Still feeling reluctant? Try and ask your sales and aftersales team first – they’ll have a better feeling of what’s resonating today.

The following should be as obvious as the shape of our Mother Earth: but don’t communicate the values you can’t really deliver. You wouldn’t be the first to have his or her hubris lead to a pyramid burial.

Want to learn more about how we work the Elements into our communication approaches?
Feel free to get in touch.

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