It’s safe to say that there are probably a thousand firms that do pretty much what yours does. This is why your sales team needs to stop selling the products and services you provide, and start selling why partnering with you will bring buyers more value than buying from anyone else.
Differentiation Is the Key
Selling based on product features and benefits is a risky proposition. Products and services can be so similar across providers that buyers are hard-pressed to spot the differences. If they happen to be adept at doing so, they then are likely put into a trade-off situation. Your offering does many amazing things but is light in one or two particular areas. The competitor’s product is strong where yours is weaker but is missing some features that yours has. This situation elevates price as a key deciding factor in the sale and the race to the bottom commences.
Shifting this buyer decision-making dynamic requires your team to sell fundamentally differently. Making your firm, your people and your approach to excellence the heart of the sale [rather than product attributes] is a powerful way to clearly differentiate you from your competitors.
Telling Your Company’s Story
In a previous post I discussed that customers don’t buy what you do, they buy Why You Do It. Communicating this Why is part of communicating the larger picture of your company and what makes it so great. How did the company start? What were the driving factors that brought it through the tough times and into today? In my role as a Fractional VP Sales I work with sales teams to tackle this deceptively difficult task.
Here’s why it’s difficult…The objective in telling your company’s story is to make an emotional connection with your prospects. If a salesperson attempts to tell it by listing how many years you’ve been in business, how many successful customer implementations you had, the impressive list of banners that sell your products etc. they don’t accomplish this. They may be building credibility, but they are not making an emotional connection.
Making the Emotional Connection
We are all innately wired to be moved by the power of story [a quick Google search on this topic will give you more information than you can read that explains this]. Given this reality, to differentiate your firm from the others and ultimately increase your sales win rate, have your sales team put focused effort into developing Your Firm’s Story.
A compelling story has a clear beginning, middle and end. It takes the listener on a journey where they experience the ‘aha’ moment that was the genesis of your firm. They come along as you tackle the challenges and climb the mountains required to refine and expand your offering. They feel how other customers have felt as a result of working with you. It’s the classic three act play.
Crafting Your Story
Another quick Google search, this time on the topic of storyselling will give you many references [and sales consultant options if you so desire] to help you get started constructing your story. In working through this with clients it’s been a fun and engaging experience for all. It’s a different kind of sales training. Everyone learns more about the company than they knew coming into the exercise. The excitement level rises as the story is constructed and the team feels its power. Once completed the sales team knows they have created something that will help them connect with buyers in a far more personal way than they have been able to prior and can’t wait to use it.
Utilizing Your Story
Your Firm’s Story should be leveraged in the first meeting with a prospect. It should be woven into this conversation in a way that is most effective based upon your industry, market and buyer. Most effectively done, it is positioned as “Before we get deeply into talking about our products and services let me tell you a bit more about us…”. Doing this at the start of the sale positions your sellers to come back to this touch point of differentiation along the way. As a buyer goes through their comparison of product attributes and price points they will have clarity around why they will get maximum value by partnering with you rather than the competition. It’s true that some buyers simply want the cheapest price. It’s also true that many want to partner with the firm that can bring maximum value and meet all of their needs. Which one would you prefer?
There is of course a great deal of nuance in crafting your company’s Origin Story. If you would like to discuss this in further detail I of course would be happy to do so. You can reach me at [email protected].