Let’s see how good your memory is…do you remember Pan American Airlines? How about any of the following 12 Brands?
Do you know what these companies all have in common? They were all once iconic/recognizable Brands that no longer exist! Each went from iconic Brand, to market leader to market follower to one of many (a commodity) to being acquired or out-of-business entirely! These companies are proof that it is a very short journey from commoditization to obsolescence. So why do successful Brands become commoditized? Based upon our research here are the top 12 reasons:
- Market saturation/Too much supply
- Lack of perceived value/Inability to articulate value
- To many competitors
- Inability to differentiate product, service or Brand
- Competitors offering discounted pricing
- Internet providing “free” or “low cost” solutions
- Market believing they can get the same products from someone else
- Maturing market
- Lack of innovation/product development
- Ignoring trends, market place conditions, competitive forces, etc.
- Reacting to competitors (or the market) versus being proactive
- Rapidly changing technology/innovation
So what actions should a company take to avoid commoditization? Here are some best practices to avoid the commoditization trap:
- Find your voice…your unique market message (Leverage your Brand Positioning Strategy)
- Understand how your customer defines value (Quantify the value you bring)
- Be an expert on the unique needs of your customer (Offer solutions to address their needs)
- Better leverage social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube)
- Become the subject matter expert (SME)
- Weave a web of influence…avoid single-point failures
- Sell value…not price
- Assess and focus on your strengths…not your weaknesses
- Provide quality products/services at a fair price
- Deliver customer service excellence…delight your customers
- Make complex solutions less complex
- Create visions for new ways of doing things
- Don’t let your competition define you…articulate your Value Proposition
Too many salespeople rely on their PowerPoint presentation, their marketing literature, their product brochures, social media or other collateral materials to get their message out. This shouldn’t surprise anyone because most new salespeople are indoctrinated with weeks, if not months, of product knowledge during their new hire orientation/training process so the only thing that they are comfortable talking about is their product. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t buy products or services. They buy solutions!
So what do the most successful salespeople do? They engage their prospect in sales conversations. Strategic, proactive sales conversations, not sales presentations! A sales conversation reveals critical information about your prospect and provides an opportunity for salespeople to formally introduce their company and its capabilities. It also ensures buyer and seller alignment. A skillful sales conversation will allow you as a salesperson to:
- Identify the title or functional area that you are targeting, the top five or six responsibilities of that title and specific “needs” they may have that your product or service could address. (utilizing our Problem Positioning Grid)
- Identify a specific product or service that you want to sell, job titles or functional areas that could benefit from that product or service and how their jobs would be made easier if they purchased your product or service. (utilizing our Solution Targeting Grid)
- Leverage existing clients in an attempt to “win” new business by using a four-step process to tell a new prospect about a challenge that one of your current customer’s had before purchasing your product or service, highlight specific reasons for their challenge, describe what your customer wanted to be able to do and then share the results that your customer was able to achieve as a result of using your product or service. (utilizing our Credibility WINdow)
- Identify the job title, functional area and vertical market that you’re trying to penetrate, the products or services that you’re trying to sell, why this prospect would buy from you versus your competition and as importantly what will keep this prospect from buying. (utilizing our Four “W” Strategy)
- Uncover “need” (either over the phone or in person) in less than four minutes. (utilizing BIO)
- Enable the buyer to buy! In order to do so salespeople need to verify the business issues, ask questions and analyze impact, link their unique capabilities and then unveil proof or unveil product before unveiling price. (utilizing VALU Builder)
The tools that are underlined in parentheses (at the end of each bullet) are introduced during our Sales Productivity workshops to help salespeople engage in proactive, strategic sales conversations.
It gives a business a strategic advantage to create libraries containing Problem Positioning Grids, Solution Targeting Grids, Credibility WINdows© and VALU Builders© for new hire orientation as well as for seasoned sales professionals. Businesses that have created these libraries have seen their salespeople become more productive more quickly which increases their return on invest while reducing turnover!
For almost 40 years I’ve coached salespeople, sales leaders and business owners to become more productive. I am constantly amazed at the number of people that are hesitant or reluctant to talk “business” with their friends and/or personal relationships so I decided to write this post.
Please allow me to introduce you to one of Boyens Group’s sales productivity tools called the Redirected Referral Request. The simplicity of this approach is what makes it work! You simply compliment your friend and then ask them if they know anyone that might be interested in the product/services you provide. For example:
Fred, you’ve built a great reputation here in town and I was wondering if there was anyone in your personal or professional network that is looking to evaluate their employee benefits program as it relates to costs, coverage or compliance. If so, I would be honored if you could make a “warm” introduction on my behalf.
There are only three potential responses. If they’re interested for themselves or their business they will ask you for more information. If they trust you they’ll introduce you to someone they know. If they’re not interested in talking business they’ll simply reply with “I’m sorry, I don’t know anyone.” There is absolutely no harm in asking!
Go ahead and give it a try…you’ll be amazed at how well the Redirected Referral Request works!
Based upon years of research and observations here are ten “best practices” for managing remote salespeople:
1. Hire the right person (Someone who will thrive working remotely)
2. Onboarding/Training needs to be done at the office, not virtually
3. Set crystal clear goals/expectations
4. Leverage technology (Webinars, conference calls, video conferences, Skype, etc.)
5. Over communicate (Practice “active listening”)
6. Give and get feedback
7. Include the salesperson in sales meetings/training sessions
8. Be available (Set days/times to talk/check-in)
9. Foster a team environment (Create a “buddy system”)
10. Celebrate successes along the way!
When they caught Willie Sutton, the famous bank robber, they asked him, “Willie, why do you rob banks?” His answer was simple and to the point…”Because that’s where the money is!”
For salespeople to sell bigger deals they also need to go where the money is!
Here are the ten keys to selling bigger deals faster:
1) Call on bigger prospects
2) Get to the decision maker early in the sales process
3) Engage the decision maker in strategic, proactive conversations
4) Retain and up-sell existing customers
5) Weave a web of influence long before you need it
6) Ask existing clients for referrals
7) Differentiate yourself from your competition
8) Cost-justify your solutions…even if you’re the most expensive
9) Articulate your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
10) Proactively address sales objections
If you want to learn more about selling bigger deals faster register for our June 18th workshop (bearing the same name) in Nashville by calling the office at (615) 395-0200 or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Prospect aimlessly…grab anyone who will listen and give them the same sales pitch over and over and over again
- Be oblivious to the prospects buying rhythm…just jump in and sell!
- Lead with as many features as possible…something’s BOUND to stick
- Sell as low in the organization as possible…never bother the decision makers
- Try to sell something to someone who can’t buy
- Make sure that your demos cover every aspect of every feature…or at least until your audience falls asleep
- Bad mouth the competition
- Miss deadlines…break promises
- Discount your price early and often
- Never differentiate yourself from your competition…after all; we’re all the same aren’t we?
Naturally, the best salespeople do the exact opposite. If you want to improve your closing percentage, increase your average order size while maintaining your margins make sure that you follow these five steps:
- Understand your prospects needs
- Analyze the financial and operational impact of those needs
- Create a new vision with a bias towards your capabilities
- Differentiate yourself from your competition in the eyes of your prospect
- Cost justify your solution to make it easy for your prospect to do business with you
Here are the top twelve responses we received in rank order:
- A sense of achievement/closing business
- Opportunity for promotion/growth
- The “thrill” of the chase
- Challenging work
- Good working conditions
- Company loyalty
- Being “in” on things
While you may not think our sample size is large enough to be accurate (or predictive) we have found that once you receive 50 to 75 responses to a specific question the percentages don’t really change very much as the number of respondents increase so we believe that these responses are pretty representative.
I am hopeful you won’t just think to yourself…wow, that’s interesting but rather what it means to your organization and more importantly what can you do with this data.