Jobs-to-Be-Done: Using Jobs Theory to Boost B2B Sales Enablement

As the old saying goes, customers aren’t buying a drill, they’re buying a hole in the wall. Or, even better, they’re buying the ability to hang a family portrait.

The truth is that most consumers aren’t so interested in your product’s technical details. Nor do they see themselves merely as an audience persona or abstract “ideal customer profile” (ICP). In reality, consumers have a simple relationship with a product. They have a need – a task they want completing, a job-to-be-done – and they want to hire a product to help them fulfil it.

Jobs to be Done, or jobs theory, tells us that it’s on the customer’s task that we should focus as marketers. When creating content or campaign strategies, too many marketers, in both B2C and B2B contexts, draw up their ICPs and think “job done”. But that’s only half the story.

The marketer that really makes an impact digs beyond the company profile and audience persona. Beyond the who, they engage with why that individual would buy your product.

Why? By tapping into the real job customers want doing, you can better understand your product’s true competition and create content that targets customers’ specific pain points more effectively. This way, you empower your sales team to do their jobs better. And that’s what Jobs to be Done is all about.

How Jobs Theory Can Power Better Sales Enablement

The whos and whys of a product are equally important to sales and marketing. And when these two work together in harmony, we all know that this is when the magic happens.

This is what we call sales enablement – when marketing empowers sales teams to perform better through insights and resources. This way, marketing can produce content, campaigns, and collateral that support sales in nudging prospects along the funnel – and getting them ultimately to convert.

Jobs to be Done can boost your sales enablement resources in two ways.

Firstly, it enables you to refocus and refine your content, by developing it around the product’s true promise. By focusing on the job-to-be-done, rather than on an imprecise ICP, sales can drill down into the prospect’s specific needs – and present a product that can deliver a solution to that need.

Secondly, and crucially, by attending to the job-to-be-done, you can better position sales to squash customer objections. In this sense, your sales enablement content can empower them to better demonstrate the product’s value relative to its real competitors. A drill is not only competing against other drills; it’s competing against Blu-tac – and a hammer and nails, too. By gaining clarity on the real options consumers enjoy to do the same job, you can present your product’s true advantages.

Simply knowing your customer persona is not enough. With this alone, you never precisely target the real needs of the leads in your funnel. Jobs theory enables sales to go further, by revealing your leads’ authentic pain points – and it allows you to adapt as different stakeholders come into play.

Jobs-to-Be-Done in B2B: Multiplying the Whys

It’s B2C and D2C scenarios – with their concerns for drills and holes – that tend to get the most attention from jobs theory. Yet, B2B sales has as much to learn from Jobs-to-Be-Done as anyone.

The trouble is that, in B2B contexts, the line between the customer and the end user is less clear. Sure, your ICP might be an SME, a startup, or an established finance firm. But an SME per se won’t read your marketing copy, and sales won’t be talking to “a startup” as a single entity.

Rather, throughout the sales cycle, you’ll be engaging different personas (stakeholders) within these business clients – each with their own individual job-to-be-done.

It is these that you will need to tap into throughout the sales cycle. And your content needs to take account of all of these stakeholders – from CEOs and founders to managers, engineers, and marketers.

Jobs Theory in Practice: A Real-Life Example

Let’s consider an example: a B2B SaaS firm selling access to a platform where businesses can buy digital gift cards for their staff or their customers. Across the same B2B client, no two personas will have the same job-to-be-done – nor the same specific goals.

  • CMO / Director of Acquisition: This persona wants to incentivise prospects at key stages of the buying cycle. That’s their job-to-be-done – and they could use your gift cards to do that.
  • HR Director: Their goal is to boost employee wellbeing and morale and drive productivity. In this way, your platform can be used to facilitate employee incentives.
  • Head of Customer Support: They want to increase customer retention – and gift cards can deliver the positive customer experiences that keep them returning.
  • IT Director: To deliver the technology required for the jobs-to-be-done from each colleague above, whilst reducing risk and ensuring compatibility with the current tech stack
  • Finance Director: To balance business requests with budgetary demands – and to ensure overall profitability.

Crucially, each persona has other ways to fulfil their needs. They don’t necessarily need to use your product to complete their job-to-be-done. HR has different ways to boost morale, for example a staff away-day or free financial advice. Customer support could use another tool to increase retention, while the finance director might have a more affordable short-term option. This is your competition.

When used correctly, and when you dig deep enough, jobs theory yields insights you may otherwise miss. It reveals hidden competitors, and lets you craft compelling content to enable sales to convert.

Conclusion: Use Jobs-to-Be-Done to Refine Your Focus

When used in B2B, Jobs to Be Done isn’t as simple as needing a hole to be drilled. Within the same B2B customer, the jobs-to-be-done evolve and proliferate. And, to do justice to the real value of your product, your content needs to engage with those who hold sway over the buying decision.

Jobs theory has the power to give your sales team the edge and the ability to demonstrate your product or service in the best possible light. Get the sales team involved in exploring and defining what the end-goals are for each stakeholder in the buying cycle. With each individual persona in a B2B lead mapped out, you and the sales team can work together to engage their specific needs and ensure they get their jobs done.

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Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

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Jonno Price

Hello and thanks for popping by my website! I’m a digital marketing consultant based in London, UK focused on B2B marketing automation & business growth.

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