Tuesday 2¢: Everybody is FOFU Fighting

Last week, I mentioned the term FOFU (Fear of F’in’ Up) and this week’s Tuesday 2¢ is literally ripped from the pages of The Marketing Book podcast that inspired that idea.

Before we go any further, add The Marketing Book podcast to your playlist, I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I love many of them, but if I was stranded on a desert island and I had to pick one, it would be The Marketing Book Podcast…. That and This Old Marketing, good lord why are rules on living on desert islands so strict?

Last week, in a post ranting about the folly of advice to B2B sales and marketing that you should “talk to businesses like they are your friend” I mentioned the term FOFU (Fear of F’in’ Up) and the friction this causes in B2B sales. Without meaning to rehash the rant of last week, I said that vendors need to be:

“….trustworthy enough for the buyer to take the big personal risk with their budget and personal reputation, overcome their FOFU (Fear Of F’in’ Up) and trust the supplier that they will do what they promised without embarrassing the buyer in front of their boss”

And this FOFU idea resonated with some of you, but I am here to pay credit where credit is due, as this idea was sown by an interview on The Marketing Book podcast when the host, Douglas Burdett interviewed Matt Dixon, the author of The Jolt Effect a couple of months ago. 

Technically it is not a marketing book but a sales book, but there is a ton of goodness in this interview and, of course, in the book. And as marketers, we need to pay attention to the sales perspective, their experience and, in this book, good research. 

The basic premise that I picked up from the discussion is that there is something worse than “no” in a sales cycle; it’s “I need to think about it”, and of course, we all know that “do nothing” is often the biggest competitor in any deal. 

The instinct then is for sales to sell harder, to talk about the benefits (ensure the client understands the benefits.. Are you sure?), the potential discount, all the carrots and the sticks sowing the FUD (fearing, uncertainty and doubt) of doing nothing and of course ensure that they are talking to the person that is able to buy. 

I am not sure if I am paraphrasing all the things from Matt’s experience, I am working from a few notes I made in Google Keep as I walked and listened to the podcast, but you get the idea:

When met with the resistance of indecision, sales are inclined to push harder. 

And yet (and again summarising wildly here), they found that successful salespeople understand that it’s not about whether the buyer is able to buy, it’s whether they are able to decide. 

And, a big part of this buyer indecision comes from the potential pain of screwing up or FOFU (Fear of F’in’ Up) and that it cannot be overcome by the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) on the benefits of the solution. FOFU wins, however hard the sales try to sell to them.

What value is a discount to someone who fears losing their job? Do nothing could be a very attractive safe bet. 

Now, I have taken a thin slice from their work for the purpose of a point I made in my last post on what a buyer needs and distilled it down to a potty mouth acronym. But, it struck me that in our obsession with category competitors, features, functions, benefits and maybe a little bit of creating pain to address “do nothing”; overcoming the FOFU isn’t something we have in our marketing planning. 

I’m still thinking about how we do this. I like the analogy that was used in the podcast, that we need to take away the blame of making a decision, like when you are in a restaurant, faced with a difficult choice, you turn to the waiter or waitress and ask for a recommendation. It shifts some of the pain of making a choice (and the FOFU), from you to them. 

I also think it underlines a need to focus our marketing on the customer as the hero, rather than our product or service. That we create inspiration rather than browbeat them with the negative of the pain.  

Whatever it is, we need to recognize that decisions are tough, and everybody is FOFU fighting.

The image was created using A.I. through NightCafe Creator

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