Last week, I attended the Alexander Group’s Chief Sales Executive Annual Forum in Dana Point, CA, where senior executives from companies like GE, Philips, Cisco, and many more gathered to share innovative ideas about the digital transformation of their organizations and the evolving world of B2B sales.
We joined in many of the high-level conversations that took place over the course of the week, hearing directly from top sales leaders about some of the challenges their companies face in the changing landscape of ubiquitous digital data and emerging buyer trends. Throughout these conversations, some topics emerged over and over: Internal Alignment, the Go-To-Customer Mandate, and Driving New Customer Value.
Much of the focus last week centered on internal alignment of sales organizations to increase transparency, reduce redundancy, and optimize impact.
One such area of recommended improvement was between sales operations and sales enablement. While the two roles share a common charter (namely enhancing the skills, credibility, and visibility of the sales organization while delivering improved performance and productivity to the business), each must be clear on their individual functions and deliverables in order to increase efficiency and accelerate results. Establishing a clear distinction of responsibilities between the two roles is essential to running a smooth sales organization while empowering a sales team to achieve results.
Greg Archibald, EVP Americas at Criteo, cited the oft-quoted study that 70% of sales decisions are made before the initial conversation. As the sales process shifts more toward self-service, the alignment of sales and marketing has never been more important. Sal Patalano, CRO at Lenovo Software, mandates that sales and marketing attend one another’s meetings, going so far as to have marketing folks chase down unqualified MQL’s in order to learn the sting of frontline sales rejection. In today’s infocentric society, marketing and sales have to be armed with consultative knowledge of their given industry in order to attract and retain good customers.
Another key area of focus was the alignment of data and other digital resources. Cate Gutowski, Vice President of Commercial & Digital Sales Transformation at GE, spoke at length in her keynote about her journey in driving digital change and creating opportunities for GE’s sales team by discerning actionable data from noise and empowering their sales teams with the tools they need to act on the insights from the data. Albert Lao, VP Americas and Global Channel at Verizon, stressed the need for marketing to consistently provide sales with bite-size data that can be distributed on demand to customers and prospects alike. Again and again, we see the imperative to align internal resources in order to make value propositions and their delivery malleable and impactful.
Driving New Customer Value
Sales leaders also discussed creating new value for customers as part of a larger go-to-customer mandate.
Whereas a go-to-market (GTM) strategy focuses on developing and delivering a product or service to attract new customers, a go-to-customer (GTC) strategy focuses more on monetizing and retaining those customers. Many of the companies in attendance last week have established products and services already brought to market, placing the onus on keeping existing customers while simultaneously maximizing revenue brought in from those customers by creating new and additional value.
One such company innovating in this way is Philips. As explained by Joe Robinson, Senior Vice President of Health System Solutions, the once fragmented electronics giant is recasting itself as a health technology company, selling solutions over products and making a business centered around relationships instead of transactions. By working with customers directly to continuously innovate and improve, Philips is selling long-term sustainability, quality, and efficiency, for which customers are willing to pay premium prices.
By now, the term “digital transformation” has been repeated so many times that it’s almost just a buzzword as sales leaders from all industries continue to experience the rapid pace of change that’s being driven by digital technologies.
In his keynote, Jim Walsh, Senior Vice President of Global Enterprise Sales at Cisco, borrowed the B2C example of buying a car, comparing the buying experience of the Model T Ford to the buying experience of the Model S Tesla. The Model T offered no customization options and required a face-to-face purchase of a car identical to every other car sold, whereas now Model S buyers can digitally customize the color, options, and payment plan of their car all without ever speaking directly to a seller.
B2B buyers are increasingly expecting an experience like when making B2C purchases. Walsh argued that B2B sales organizations must adapt to the customer’s expectations in order to survive. In his three-staged customer intimacy campaign approach, he explained how Cisco was able to make its selling practices fit the expectations of its customers, scale that change across regions and verticals, and then finally integrate those changes into other aspects of Cisco (its production, distribution, etc). The key to Cisco’s transformation is customer centricity, as the customer gains more and more control of the process, we must sell to them in the way they want to be sold. And that means taking the time to truly learn their goals, i.e. sell them a solution to their problem, not a product which may be helpful in a vacuum.
While all this discussion was centered around the changes that B2B selling are undergoing, these themes all point to things that have always been central to successful sales: resources and relationships. Are your sales teams equipped with right tools to best sell? How can your reps (and success managers) create person-to-person relationships based on trust and value?
Of course, the tools and resources needed are changing. Your buyers no longer want your text-based materials. Your long emails are not being read. Your white papers are piling up in their downloads folder. This doesn’t mean your content is not important (it is more important than ever); you just need to give it to the buyers in the format they want.
Sales relationships are also changing. Face-to-Face meetings are becoming rarer and rarer in the buying process. Even phone meetings are getting harder and harder to get on the calendar. And as I said above your emails are not being read with the attention you’d want. Even if they were, are they really building the kind of relationship that at GTC strategy demands?
Video can help provide that missing element. Your messages can convey more of that personal touch, putting a face to the faceless rep, providing context and building trust by providing a voice and body language that is missing in emails and getting you in front of your prospects and customers in-between meetings.
Personalized Video also allows your reps to provide the right content that the buyers need on their journey and provide the context and explanation they need to understand and digest that content.
If you’re ready to join other sales leaders in solving some of the challenges facing B2B sales organizations today, schedule a demo of Videolicious with one of our video experts to learn more about how personalized video can spearhead your digital transformation.
In B2B sales, more and more companies are switching their focus from traditional lead generation to a more concerted approach in which sales and marketing work together to target, engage, and convert key accounts. Rather than casting a wide net and waiting for fish of all sizes to take the bait you’ve laid out for them, account-based selling is more on par with Captain Ahab going after Moby Dick, identifying an ideal account and pursuing it with the combined resources of sales and marketing in hopes of catching and converting the account into a paying customer. In this way, account-based selling flips the traditional sales funnel on its head, starting from a single identified entry point and expanding to serve tailored resources to others in the targeted organization.
A key element of effective account-based selling is tailoring your messaging to specifically meet the needs of the account you’re going after. This means personalizing your outreach in a way that speaks to your target’s needs, as well as making them feel like more than just a name on an email list. The challenge is communicating value in a personalized way that’s easy to digest.
That’s where personalized video comes in. Here are the top three benefits of including video in your account-based selling.
Video is the most engaging form of content out there, and including it in your account-based selling efforts is a powerful tactic to increase responses and book more meeting. Take a look at this pre-meeting video made by ABC Corporation. By addressing the prospect’s specific business needs, the video effectively gets the attention of decision-makers, igniting conversation inside the organization while at the same time prompting responses and decreasing cancellations.
Increases Content Sharing
There’s another key benefit to including personalized video in your account-based selling efforts: content sharing. If the goal of account-based selling is exposure, creating content that can be quickly produced and highly personalized is key to saturating a target organization with your brand or product’s message and value proposition. This kind of content is easily consumed and easily shared, creating a ripple effect that other forms of content can’t hope to replicate. This drives the account-based selling process, growing out outreach from a single decision maker to many.
Fosters trust and relationships
Video quickly puts a face to the reps reaching out to those in the target organization while at the same time allowing for customized messaging specifically addressing the decision makers in the target organization. By proliferating this targeted messaging across the target organization through email and social media, your marketing and sales efforts saturate the organization while at the same time building a foundation of trust that, leading to faster responses and shorter deal cycles.
Want to learn more about how to effectively incorporate video into your account-based selling? Check out our free Video Content Strategy ebook. In it, you’ll find great resources on how to best leverage personalized video into driving engagement and increasing sales.
It’s Halloween again, when witches and monsters and other things that go bump in the night stalk the streets in search of tricks and treats.
But for sales leaders, it’s not goblins or ghouls that keep them up at night. Their fears are much harder to combat than turning on the lights.
These fears affect sales forecasting, quotas, and bottom lines. These fears haunt next year’s budgets and projections and keep coming back from the dead like zombies.
Fortunately, these sales nightmares are curable. We’ve listed some of the top fears of sales leaders with helpful tips on how to face and fix them, so that your Halloween (and your pipeline) will be a little less scary.
Are you haunted by that prospect that never called you back? This was someone who had seemed interested and maybe even verbally committed to purchasing from you, when suddenly, they ghosted you and you never heard from them again.
So what happened? Did the prospect disappear after an ill-fated drive down a country road one moonlit night? Or did they just get busy and forget to call you back?
The question is: how can you summon the prospect from the great beyond to reignite the deal and close the sale?
Don’t break out the Ouija board just yet. Follow up with a personalized video message. A short video letting the prospect know you’re thinking about them goes a long way to cut through the noise of their day-to-day itinerary and increases response rates by as much as 267%, allowing you to lay the sale to rest instead of marking it closed-lost for all eternity.
Want to learn more about reaching ghosted prospects and reviving Deals Gone Dark? Download our free ebook to start closing more deals today.
With so much digital content circulating online, it’s hard to not feel like a vampire looking into a mirror: invisible. After all, there’s so much competition these days, and with multiple competitors all vying for the attention of prospects, it can feel almost impossible to be seen enough to sell to your would-be customers.
While it’s tempting to draw the curtains and climb into your coffin, a far more effective strategy is using video to stand apart from the crowd. Video is consistently proven to be the most engaging form of digital content. Employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails or web articles (Forrester Research), while 59% of senior executives would rather watch a video than read text (Forbes).
Video especially has a huge impact on emails. Just including the word “video” in an email increases click-thru rates by 7-11%, while including a video in an email increases conversions by as much as 21% (Experian).
So polish those fangs and get ready for the camera, because as these stats suggest, you’d be batty not to start producing your own video content in order to be seen by potential customers.
Need help getting started making your own videos? Check out our free Video Content Strategy Ebook to learn how to start making your own video content for your sales outreach.
Have you ever had that nightmare where you’re being chased down a long hallway towards an open door, but no matter how fast you run, the door only seems to get further away?
You’ve probably had similar nightmares when chasing deals. Are you doomed to run through the forever without closing that deal, or is there a way to bridge the gap and step through to the other side?
There is and video can help.
Video allows you to create deep emotional connections with prospects, allowing you to better engage with prospects throughout different stages of the buyer’s journey. Not only is video more engaging than other mediums; it also helps you communicates personally with your prospects, rather than another one of those automated sales zombies that clog up their inbox. With video, you can lead the prospect down the buying hallway, by telling and showing the prospect what they need at each stage in the process.
Shrink that hallway back to normal size and reach your goal, all with the power of personalized video.
Want to learn more about creating emotional connections with video? Download our free Emotional Engagement ebook and start connecting now.
With increasing competition and demands on decision-makers time and attention, establishing a connection and a rapport with prospects before you start selling to them helps establish trust and differentiate you as someone who provides value., That’s the idea behind social selling: using social media networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to establish credibility, engage directly with prospects where they are and build lasting relationships.
The most popular form of content shared on social media today is video.
Over 8 billion videos are watched on Facebook every day (TechCrunch) and videos on Twitter are 6X more likely to be retweeted than photos and 3X more likely than GIFs. These trends will continue to impact B2B sales, especially with LinkedIn releasing native video sharing. If you have something to say on social media, video is the way to get your message heard and shared.
Here are the top 3 ways you can start using video in your social selling efforts right now.
Create an introduction video on your LinkedIn profile
An up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a must have, but serves little more use than a professional resume (and when was the last time you fully read one of those?). As sales professionals, we’re more than a bulleted list of the jobs we’ve held and the companies we’ve worked with.
An introduction video is an opportunity to make a great first impression. Now, when you connect with a prospect, he or she will see more than just your experience when they view your profile. They’ll get a chance to digitally meet you through your video, in which you smile and talk just like you would if you were in the same room with them. This humanizes you and puts a face and a voice to who you are as a person, rather than another disembodied request to connect. (use the social Psych stats from Matt’s presentation on how messages on conveyed here?)
Summarize a blog or LinkedIn post
Maybe you (or your organization) regularly post great thought leadership pieces are your blog or LinkedIn profile, thought-provoking articles that highlight your subject matter expertise and the unique value proposition you or your company have to offer to prospects. There’s just one question: is anyone reading them? Research has found that working professionals are 75% more likely to watch a video than documents, emails or web articles (Forrester), while 59% of senior executives (the kinds of people who write checks for large B2B contracts) would prefer to watch a video than reading text (Forbes Insights).
Does this mean all of your thought leadership writing is worthless? Far from it. Instead of relying on the text of your writing alone, summarizing your main points in a video is a great way to quickly convey your message in an engaging format that less literary prospects are more likely to consume. That same video is also easily shareable across all your networks, creating opportunities to expand your reach with your social selling efforts.
Respond to social conversations with personalized video
Participating in conversations on social media is a crucial part of social selling; consistent engagement with prospects helps build rapport and trust. However, sometimes leaving a comment on a LinkedIn post or a Twitter reply is not enough, especially if the prospect has a lot of followers and connections; they might regularly get hundreds of comments and replies every day, making it difficult to stand apart from the noise.
Since video is more engaging than other kinds of content on social media, why not comment or reply with a video message personalized to a prospect? By replying to a prospect with a video message based on social media activity, you create value upfront while reinforcing the connection you’ve built up through your social selling efforts, increasing the chances of making a sale.
Are you ready to start including video in your social selling strategy? Download our free Video Content Strategy ebook. In it you’ll find more great resources for creating impactful videos you can share on social media to engage and convert.
With the digital transformation of B2B purchasing, the line between sales and marketing is fading and the focus is shifting from siloed sales or marketing approaches to a buyer-directed buying process.
This was one of the main themes of the 2017 CEB Sales and Marketing Summit, where sales and marketing leaders met to learn about cutting-edge data and research conducted by CEB and Gartner that points to the exciting (and sometimes unexpected) changes in purchasing trends of B2B customers. While we’re all aware that the digital transformation is changing the way our customers buy, in practice it is a big departure from how we conceptualize the different roles of marketing and sales. But as I’ve seen over the past few days, t we all must adapt to remain competitive and relevant.
Of all the great content and insights made available at the CEB Sales and Marketing Summit this year, I’m still most struck by the data Brent Adamson shared about how B2B buyers rely on digital resources not just early in the top-of-funnel, discovery stages of the buying process, but throughout the buying process and even after a purchase has been made. In his presentation, he told us that 93% of buyers use a digital channel to learn more about a product or service early on in the buying process, while 94% do the same in the middle of the process, and 83% still do later on in the process.
Perhaps even more interesting is the shift from the Serial Commercial Engine (buyers relying on digital resources early on and moving to in-person resources later) to the Parallel Commercial Engine (buyers interacting simultaneously with digital and in-person resources throughout the buying process). Where once we relied on marketing to produce digital resources to create one-on-one opportunities with buyers, now marketing and sales professionals must both constantly engage the the buyer personally as well as digitally.
This means that we have to dramatically rethink the line between digital resources and personalized communication, as well as who produces digital content in an organization. In order to keep buyers better informed and engaged in the buying process, they must be consistently provided with digital and personal resources that help them to better make purchasing decisions.
Video is ideal for this.
Not only is video the most engaging form of content available (accounting now for 90% of all web traffic according to Cisco), personalized video is the perfect marriage of sales and marketing efforts, bridging the gap between digital and in-person resources.
Imagine a buyer visits your website looking for more information about your company, product, or service. They expect white papers, pricing pages, customer testimonials, and other content usually found on a website. What they might not expect is a personalized video, provided to them by a sales representative answering their specific questions as it applies to their business needs. Is that then a digital resource or a face-to-face resource? Can the buyer even tell? If B2B buying really is shifting to the Parallel Commercial Engine, does the distinction matter or is this the logical (and perhaps inevitable) next step in the evolution of B2B buying, where the lines between marketing and sales continue to blur?
Providing digital and personalized resources continually throughout the buying process requires an agile content and personalization strategy, where both sales and marketing can quickly produce personalized resources that help buyers make decisions. Tasking members of your team to regularly provide blogs and other materials demands too much time, whereas producing the same materials with video allows for quicker turnaround times and increased engagement. To learn more about how to implement your own video content strategy to create your own Parallel Commercial Engine, download our free video content strategy ebook.
Sales continues to quickly evolve in the digital age as more tools and data become available to help teams prospect, engage, and close smarter…and that’s not changing soon. In fact, sales professionals can expect even more changes to happen faster moving forward, giving advantage to those sales professionals who are the most flexible and adaptable.
This was the key takeaway from AA-ISP’s Unite 2017 event last week in Orlando. Sales leaders from all over came to discuss the digital transformation of sales and how emergent technologies like AI won’t displace the sales professionals of today so much as augment their efforts and help them drives sales in data-driven and automated ways.
“The whole sales industry is going through this massive disruption,” said Bob Perkins, founder and chairman of AA-ISP. “What’s behind that is mainly the customer. They really want to do things virtually.” Perkins says that as customers research their own information about companies and products, sales professionals must rise up and meet that demand through increasingly digital strategies.
A major theme of the conference was improved communication with customers. As customers become savvier in finding the information they need in order to make purchasing decisions without the involvement of sales professionals, sales professionals must engage with customers in a way that offers them additional value while also getting their attention. Chad Nuss, CRO of InsideOut, took part in an American Idol-style panel judging good and bad cold emails. Many of the emails didn’t meet his standards of quality outreach for modern sales.
“There’s 21 million inside salespeople in the United States,” says Nuss, “sending an average of 50 messages a day; that’s 1 billion messages going out that are ineffective, and it’s ruining it for everybody.”
With less time spent talking to customers face-to-face, sales professionals must find new ways of communicating with prospects that drive engagement while at the same time helping the prospect to make better-informed decisions about purchases. As the sales process becomes more and more digitized, sales organizations will have to find new ways of personalizing the buying process for customers and engaging them in one-to-one interactions that establish authority and trust.
At our session at Unite, we worked hands-on with attendees to help them make their own product pitch videos personalized to individual prospects to increase open rates and reply rates. We also shared some research on the power of video to get the attention of buyers: Employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than read text (Forrester Research), and 59% of senior executives prefer videos to reading (Forbes). Clearly, video has a significant effect in getting the attention of modern buyers, which spells good news for sales organizations trying to get remain adaptable and relevant in the changing landscape of digital sales.
Contact us today to learn how Videolicious can help you start incorporating video into your digital sales efforts.
As sales professionals, empathy is our strongest asset. As human beings we all see the world from our own personal vantage point. An effective sales pro quickly understands the prospect’s perspective and communicates within the given framework. By representing ourselves and our company’s brand authentically, with respect to the prospect’s specific needs, we can inspire loyalty and trust in customers that will pay dividends, both monetarily and professionally, for years to come. This messaging must be delivered with self-confidence. That confidence is embodied by all successful sales professionals, and we display it each time we pick up the phone to make a sales call or meet a prospect to sign a contract over lunch.
So why then is it so difficult for us to be comfortable and authentic in front of a camera? Is there something inherently more threatening about a lens than a human being that makes us forget how to simply be ourselves? After all, the stakes are much lower when talking to a camera; a machine may be cold and humorless, but it’s more forgiving than a VP of Sales with a quota on their mind. We have no problem speaking comfortably and authentically to decision makers when thousands (if not millions) of dollars are on the line. But put a camera in front of us and suddenly all of that innate self-confidence disappears while we’re left stuttering and awkward.
Modern sales professionals are some of the most tech-savvy folks I know; we have to be in order to work with so many sales tools becoming available everyday, making our jobs more efficient and data-driven. With that tech-savvy comes a need to comfortably communicate across multiple modes and channels. You probably have no problem representing yourself authentically in an email or over the phone or even over social media. Yet there’s this strange double standard with sales professionals and video, like video is some sort of digital boogie man when really it’s just another powerful tool in the sales arsenal designed to help make our jobs easier and more effective.
The key to success with video is, like anything else, exposure and repetition. Sales leaders must empower their teams to be themselves in the most effective ways. By giving them the ability to make their own videos, sales leaders can open up a world of new possibilities for their teams. After all, sales leaders trust their representatives to be themselves in person and through email or phone. Why not through video?
Understandably, people’s general discomfort on video makes sales professionals uncomfortable with the thought of their representatives forging ahead and making their own videos. What happens when a customer sees that discomfort on video?
Fortunately, comfort with video doesn’t have to come naturally. As sales professionals, we’re used to preparing ourselves before calling a prospect or going into a meeting, and we can prepare ourselves with video as well. By thinking about what it is we want to say and carefully planning our message ahead of time, we can come across as the confident, authentic best versions of ourselves on camera just as well as we do in person. It’s as simple as writing down what we want to say before we say it on camera. Tools like Videolicious’ teleprompter feature make it easy to deliver your message seamlessly while seeming poised and natural on camera.
Being yourself on camera isn’t as hard as we think it is. It’s something we naturally do when video isn’t recording, and learning to be equally comfortable when the camera’s rolling just takes practice and preparation, two skills any seasoned sales professional is already familiar with. With some time, effort, and a little bit of script-writing, you and your reps could be well on your way to making your own videos that will get your company the results it needs.
If you’d like to put these concepts into practice, create your own video content strategy and start winning more deals. Download our free ebook for a great framework to get started!!
As we’ve seen, sales differentiation is more complicated than simply convincing a buyer why a product or service is better than a competitor’s. In their book The Seven Myths of Customer Management: How to be Customer-Driven Without Being Customer-Led, authors John Abram and Paul Hawkes explain order for a sales differentiation strategy to be effective, it must address four key business aspects.
Like any other sales or marketing messaging, the differentiation strategy has to be targeted to a specific audience in order to be effective. Certain buyers will appreciate differentiators for different reasons. Finding the reasons that have the most positive impact on sales performance is crucial to effectively differentiate the product or service to drive sales.
Meaning of differentiation is also important. Remember, most B2B buyers are very savvy, not to mention skeptical. This means that traditional outreach through email or phone might not be enough to get their attention, even if the differentiation of the product’s value propositions are clearly conveyed. This means that the mode of outreach must be a targeted differentiator as well (such as a personalized video pitch automatically created with Videolicious).
Though there are many ways that products and services provide value to buyers, showing the differentiator relationship to profit is an unavoidable necessity to convincing them to buy. A product or service’s differentiator must either save a buyer money, in hard dollars or time and effort, or help them generate more revenue. Without conveying that relationship, a buyer has no monetary reason to purchase.
When conveying differentiating factors, it’s important to clarify if those differentiators relate to the product, the service that supports the product, or a mix of the two. Perhaps your product is similar in execution and price to a competitor’s, but the customer support offered as a service along with that product is the true differentiator. Perhaps the service and the product together are the differentiator, ,even though individually they are similar to what competitors offer. Establishing this distinction help the customer to better understand what is being offered to them, helping them to make a more informed decision.
While successful differentiation strategies have been known to incorporate other elements besides these, by addressing these four points strategically will allow you to hone your company or brand’s message so that it stands out against the competition.
There are three key components to address in any successful sales differentiation strategy:
Your company is the overarching body that defines everything your sales representatives do. The weight and perception of your company’s brand hold strong sway over a customer’s perception of your representatives and only by strongly distinguishing your company first can your sales representatives set themselves and your company apart from the competition.
There are three keys to differentiating your company:
Have a mission
Customers are drawn to companies motivated by more than just money. Having a mission or a goal as the main driver of a company creates a powerful narrative that attracts customers and holds their attention. Clearly defining this mission will help your sales representatives create a compelling message for your company that will set it apart.
Focus on superior customer service
While this isn’t a necessarily unique tactic, it is no less critical to the success of making your company stand out. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” By being known for putting customers above all else, your reps can create an emotional connection with your customers and hold their attention.
With attention spans becoming shorter and shorter, companies cannot afford to rest on their laurels. To stand out from the crowd, companies must constantly be looking for ways to improve their products or processes. This kind of innovation creates a sort of positive feedback loop, as each new successful innovation garners attention from more people and inspiring new innovations. By being recognized as such a thought leader in the industry, customers are more likely to buy from your representatives than representatives from companies that are less bold in their approach.
Ultimately, your product is what customers buy; it’s the thing they get in exchange for the money they give you and it has to be good enough to justify that money. If your product doesn’t offer customers some sort of unique value, then your sales representatives will be seriously limited in their ability to make a persuasive case as to why customers should buy your product versus a competitor’s.
In order to differentiate your product, you must do the following:
Simplify your message
A concise explanation of the value your product provides helps customers to understand what your sales representatives are offering and how it might benefit their business interests. If your sales representatives can’t summarize your product’s value in a simple sentence, then your message is too complicated to effectively differentiate your product from competitors. Refining that message help your sales representatives to present your product’s value in a digestible format that quickly and clearly convinces customers why they should buy from you.
Emphasize your USP
When similar products compete in a crowded market, it can be difficult for customers to identify what really makes those products different (besides price). Good products have at least one distinguishing characteristic that other products don’t. This could be how easy it integrates with other tools, or how intuitive its user interface is to learn. Whatever it is, identifying and communicating the product’s unique selling proposition is critical in order for sales representatives to differentiate your company and your product. Remember from early, this doesn’t have to be something truly unique about your product. Rather, your USP should highlight something your product does better than competing products or something that they don’t do at all.
Narrow your target market
Many companies struggle with trying to mean too much to too many. While logically this might make sense, since in by doing so a company can’t theoretically appeal to more customers, this, in fact, makes any distinguishing characteristics of your product more difficult to recognize. Instead of appealing to a wide swath of customers, targeting your messaging to appeal to a specific niche or demographic allows your sales team to focus their efforts and maximize the effectiveness of their sales strategy for one use case rather than many. By doing this, sales representatives can better communicate the differentiating factors to one audience and drive results.
Your sales representatives
Your sales representatives are your first line of offense and last line of defense when it comes to implementing and executing an effective sales differentiation strategy. They are the ones that will spend the most time interfacing with customers and potential buyers, and it is in them that you must trust to differentiate your product and your company from competitors. If they can not successfully break through the noise and retain the attention of those who would buy from you, then no amount of differentiation in your company or product will move the needle.
In order to stand out and distinguish themselves, sales representatives must:
Sell a total solution
Too often, sales representatives are so focused on closing a deal that they forget to take a step back and assess the bigger picture. By understanding the particular needs and pain points of a customer, your sales representatives are better able to make a more compelling case for your product while highlighting the value proposition in a way that perfectly addresses your customer’s business interests. By being able to weave an integrated narrative around why your product is such a good fit for your customer, your sales representatives can better distinguish your product as well as themselves in one motion.
Recognize the importance of relationships.
While sales is largely a numbers game, distinguished sales representatives set themselves apart by fostering relationships with their prospects. By investing their time, thought, and energy into the specific concerns of a customer, the customer is more likely to see their differentiating values and buy from them. Because of this, empowering your sales representatives with the tools necessary to build those relationships (like personalized video with Videolicious) greatly increases the chances of customers buying from your over competitors.
Distinguish their individual sales approach.
Similar to building relationships, sales representatives must distinguish themselves in a way that conveys who they are both as a person and business professional. Allowing a sales representative to communicate the best parts of themselves inspires trust and adds dimension to their selling efforts. This cements the representative as a fully-formed person rather than just another sales person trying to make a commission. Video is a powerful tool in this respect; it is an ideal medium for conveying individuality and value in a way that traditional sales mediums like phone and email simply can’t.
Each of these areas is interrelated when developing a sales differentiation strategy. By highlighting where your sales representatives are strongest and where they most need improvement, you can create your own sales differentiation strategy that will fortify each of these aspects and truly set yourself apart from the noise.
Want to learn how to create your own sales differentiation strategy? Download our free ebook to start differentiating your sales efforts today!
It’s been weeks since you last heard from your customer. The first meeting went great and you felt like the customer was engaged and ready to buy. Now, your emails and your phone call go unanswered, and you’re left wondering what went wrong.
These are Deals Gone Dark, when customers disengage from the sales process without clear warning or reason. They can be incredibly frustrating for sales representatives, especially when things seem to be going well. Meanwhile, Deals Gone Dark seriously hurt the health of your sales pipeline as they slow velocity and stagnate, skewing forecasting results.
Reengaging with these customers should be a top priority. After all, at one point they seemed interested and willing to buy, and it would be a shame to mark those deals closed lost just because the customer has become too busy or too distracted to reply. But what can sales representatives do to reach a customer that won’t answer phone calls or emails?
Sending a personalized video message can be a powerful strategy to reignite a conversation with a customer. By doing so, sales representatives can show the customer that they’re thinking about them and that they’re still committed to seeing them succeed with their product or service. Furthermore, a personalized video stands out from other communications the customer has received, increasing the chances of getting a reply.
To create your own follow-up video, follow these steps.
Look your best. Dress as you would for a meeting with a client.
Frame your video in a well-lit area free of noise.
Start your video with a smile, addressing the customer by name and letting the customer know you’re thinking about them.
Explain your product or service’s value proposition again and why you think it’s a good fit for the customer.
Recap the points previously discussed in the sales process, including features and benefits.
Propose a time to meet again to discuss how to implement your product or service and align it with the customer’s business needs.
Don’t settle for Deals Gone Dark. Engage your customers directly with personalized outreach videos to break through the noise, get their attention, and win their business.
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Sales differentiation is essentially the practice of clearly defining and communicating a company or product’s value proposition in a way that sets it apart from the competition. Buyers are turned off by repetitive jargon and marketing terms used to describe a product or service. Instead, they want to understand that product or service’s value to their business goals and how that product or service meets those goals in ways that a competitor can’t.
Often, sales representatives fail to do this succinctly or effectively, usually because of one of three reasons:
They focus too much on what makes their product or service “unique”
It’s important to note here that a differentiator does not have to be something unique; in fact, when considering how to best communicate a product or service’s value proposition, thinking only in terms of what makes that product or service unique is often counterproductive, if not completely inaccurate. When explaining what makes their product or service unique, sales representatives will often point to something like how their technology is customized specifically to a buyer’s industry, or their team’s experience, or their superb customer service. Though these are all valid differentiators, none of these truly make a company unique. Lots of companies have all these things, and claiming otherwise deters instead of engages most savvy B2B buyers who’ve heard similar claims from other vendors many times before.
On the off chance that a salesperson correctly identifies something that really does make their product or service unique (for example, if there’s is the first or only company or product of its kind, or if they’re the biggest in their industry), that still might not convey the true value of the product or service (what value does being the first or only or biggest provide to a customer?). These unique differentiators might be anecdotally interesting, but unless they somehow help a customer’s business needs (be it saving money or time, increasing sales, or any other number of measurable outcomes), they’re not enough to differentiate the product or service from the competition. Rather than focusing solely on what makes a company or its products unique, sales representatives must constantly demonstrate their company or product’s value to the customer.
They focus on only one differentiator
In an effort to focus their value proposition, sales representatives will often return to one talking point or one feature of their product that differentiates them from their competition. “This product is the fastest in the industry,” they’ll say, or “This product is the easiest to integrate into your current sales stack.” Whatever the one differentiator is, they will constantly steer the sales conversation back to it, lauding it as the single best reason why a buyer should buy their product or service over a competitor’s.
Modern B2B buyers are sophisticated and multifaceted. They recognize that there are multiple factors that determine whether a product or service is a good fit for their business. By reducing a product or service’s value proposition to one differentiator, sales professionals oversimplify the buyer’s reason to buy, weakening the argument to select their product or service over a competitor’s. Real differentiation is best expressed not through one aspect of a company or product but rather through a mix of many aspects to create an overall distinction in the buyer’s mind. Not only is that overall distinction more defensible and more difficult for competitors to replicate; it also appeals to the rational sophistication of most B2B buyers, making them more likely to consider a company or product as a viable option.
They differentiate for the wrong reasons
Different contexts call for different approaches in differentiation. There are multiple approaches to setting a product or service apart from the competition, but not all of them are always applicable. In the sales process, sales representatives face one of two different challenges when trying to communicate their company or product’s value proposition:
Convincing a buyer to buy from you versus a competitor
When pitching to a customer who either already has a similar product or service in place or is currently considering competitors, communicating a company or product’s value becomes a matter of comparison. By studying the differences in products, prices, and implementations, sales representatives can identify differentiators that set their products apart, highlighting the ways in which their solution will yield better results in areas specific to the customer’s business needs. In many ways, this is a more straightforward differentiation strategy that requires only some research as well as an understanding of both products or services and their key differences
Convincing a buyer to buy a solution not already in place
Often, B2B sellers have to convince buyers to purchase products or services for which they currently don’t have a solution. Here, the differentiation strategy can be much more nuanced and harder to define; now, the sales representative has to make the argument for a unique solution rather than one similar product compared to another. This requires a focus on the business outcome and a clear explanation of the business outcomes that purchasing a product or service will yield. By focusing on ROI, the sales representative can make the case for a tool that otherwise wouldn’t be considered, differentiating their product through its novel approach of meeting business goals important to the customer.
Understanding the context of a sales conversation helps to frame the differentiation strategy to be used. While both ROI and unique value propositions are both important differentiators, understanding which to highlight can make the difference between closing a deal and marking a sale as closed lost.
By understanding these common mistakes, sales representatives can better plan their differentiation strategies to maximize the chances of setting their products or services apart from the competition in such a way that customers remember, retaining attention and driving sales.
Want to learn how to create your own sales differentiation strategy? Download our free ebook to start differentiating your sales efforts today!