Ever since I wrote my post about Pests, Peddlers and Demand Creators, the most common question I’m asked is, “How can you tell if you’re being a Peddler or Commoditizer?”
Here’s the simplest and fastest way to determine if you’re peddling:
Look at how you approach your prospects and customers early in the sales cycle. Consider the questions you ask, the material you share and the possible presentations you make. Now answer this question: Who learns about the prospect/customer’s company?
If the answer is you (or your sales rep) you’re a peddler. If the answer is the prospect/customer then you’re positioned perfectly to break-free from The Commoditization Trap.
You read that correctly. If you want to avoid being commoditized and being treated like a Peddler, your job is to ensure your prospect/customer learns about their company, their situation, problems and opportunities from the very first interactions. Learning about your company, it’s products and solutions comes last, with no exceptions.
The problem so many selling organizations have is they view their first interactions as a qualifying or needs assessment process. They ask questions to educate the selling organization, and, frankly, they bore the buyer.
- Don’t ask how the company has handled a function in the past. Instead ask them how they’ve adjusted to address the problems that could be causing that function to be performing at subpar levels.
- Don’t ask them what do they like about what they’ve done in the past and what would they would change? Provoke them with your Commercial Teaching Point-of-View that will cause them to look at their solution differently.
The point here is that the bar has been raised to making high value sales. You can no longer rely on the customer to educate you on what they need. You must teach them instead. When you do that, you’re in a position to create real demand and separate yourself from your competition.
I’ve written about the curse of knowledge before. An important sales implication of the curse is that selling organizations become increasingly committed to the belief that it’s the expertise and knowledge about the solution that separate competitors in buyers’ eyes.
There are two important points that contradict that belief:
Your customers are nowhere near as educated as we’d like to believe they are about their problems, so it’s virtually impossible that they’ll be able to:
Truly understand your expertise and solutions, and
Effectively compare the difference – and the value of that difference – between you and your competitors.
When you’re focused on your [...] Continue Reading…
Over the last eight years, I bet I have published more than 1000 pieces of content. Between my blog, columns I write for magazines, guest blog posts I write for other blog sites and magazines, I put out a lot of content.
Frankly, it’s one of the major advantages I’ve had in growing my business. A few years ago I quantified the impact of my blog alone and valued it to create more than $2 million of documented value for my company. On top of that I’ve won many awards and gotten quite a bit of press for the blogging [...] Continue Reading…
Next month I’ll be presenting a webinar that I more excited about that anything I’ve done before. It focuses on how to turn the tables and create a structural advantage for you and your business.
For years your business had the wind at its back, and you didn’t need an unfair advantage to grow successfully. In 2013, as we continue to recover from the “Great Recession,” ask yourself:
Is our sales approach creating an unfair advantage for us, allowing us to:
Close more business,
Close it faster with less effort,
Increase our margins, and
Drive our profitability and business value?
If you’re answer is yes to [...] Continue Reading…
Over the last 18 months I’ve been focusing on simplifying the approach that small and mid-market companies take to growth. There is probably nowhere where this is needed more than in strategic planning process.
Working with thousands of companies, I’ve come to understand that the focus of your go-to-market strategy can be broken into three categories. They are:
Those who will do business with you.
Those who won’t do business with you.
Those who should and aren’t doing business with you.
Those Who Will
The reality is that you do not need to spend significant time creating strategy for this group. This is the customer [...] Continue Reading…
For 20 years I’ve had a tremendous sales advantage. As someone who enjoys writing and creating new ideas, I’ve leveraged my sales efforts with content, before content marketing even had a name. Today, one of the core things Imagine does is enable small and mid-sized companies to create the type of content to leverage those sales efforts.
Last week I was presenting our new program Achieving Effortless Sales Growth to a group of CEOs in Canada. When I got to Step Five: Cultivate & Engage Your Market, a CEO asked about e-newsletters. He told me that a previous speaker had [...] Continue Reading…
I shared some thoughts on this topic several years ago. As I’ve received countless additional inquiries and attempts my salespeople do “get the conversation started,” I decided to adjust the post and add some recommendations.
One of the things we do at Imagine is to work with our clients to develop effective lead generation. We use email strategies, content strategies and even calling strategies. When implementing, I inevitably get a concern that “People don’t read emails,” or “I don’t take calls.” The real reason for this is poor execution – not poor tactics.
Let me be clear about something I haven’t [...] Continue Reading…
Congratulations to the Ravens. So, what did you think of the commercials?
With the annual celebration of one-night stands (Super Bowl ads) behind us, I still find myself asking why so many companies spend virtually all of their resources and energies begging for sales, when they should be building customers. A focus on building customers often seems like the longer, more complex path, yet it’s the only one that provides an opportunity for the predictability, sustainability and scalability of revenue growth.
When I consult with companies in developing their outreach strategies, I remind them that there are, in essence, six stages [...] Continue Reading…
It’s been quite some time since I had a good rant here, so I feel like I’m a bit overdue. On that note, I’d like to share with you the biggest frustration about my job.
One of the things we do for clients is to create the content that provokes, educates and leverage sales efforts. Over the last three weeks I’ve been involved in about 12 content interviews we conduct to keep the voice of our client. With a couple of exceptions, the only word I can use to describe what was shared is “Boring!”
The most frustrating part of my [...] Continue Reading…
I hate to lose. And I like people who hate to lose. I hate losing more than I enjoy winning (and I enjoy winning). I’ve learned that one key commonality of great athletes, sales professionals and businesspeople is that they HATE to lose.
I bring this up with the recent behavior of Bill Belichick, who refused to grant a 45 second interview to a CBS reporter, following the Patriots loss to the Ravens in the AFC Championship. Belichick’s behavior has been universally panned. He’s been called a sore loser, arrogant and worse. And while I certainly don’t condone his behavior, [...] Continue Reading…
As I shared in my post last Monday: Stop Selling! If you’re selling you’re doing something wrong.
Whenever I share this insight, it’s always greeted with agreement…and frustration. People shrug their shoulders and ask, “I get that I shouldn’t do this, but what should I do?”
Solving The Seller’s Paradox requires that you fully and completely leave the world of the peddler. You must let go of your products and services, your features and benefits and engage – truly engage – with your prospects/customers. You must embrace a diagnostic approach.
The basis of this approach is rooted with what I call The [...] Continue Reading…
When I conduct sales training for executives and sales teams, I typically finish with the valuable thought:
“Stop Selling! If you feel like you’re selling, you’re doing something wrong.”
I call it The Seller’s Paradox.
The more your focus is on your products, services, or (dare I say) your solutions , the less likely you’ll be valued or make a sale.
The faster you try to get to the proposal/recommendation stage in your sales process, the longer and less likely you’ll be to make a sale.
The harder you work to prove your worth, the less likely it is you’ll be valued.
When you’re [...] Continue Reading…
I’m a big fan of quotes, and I’ve got a love/hate relationship with goals. So the two collided when I came across this quote from David Ogilvy: “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark.”
My feelings with the quote hit “Perfect Storm” status when you add that I’m a hitting coach in college baseball. One that firmly believes that every one of my players needs to be able to implement the bunt flawlessly. In baseball, bunting is called small ball, and it can be quite powerful.
All you need to do is look at the San Francisco Giants who have won [...] Continue Reading…
As I’ve written before, “Brand” and “Branding” are words tossed around in a variety of ways. For small and mid-market companies, the vast majority of what’s thrown around about branding is crap.
I’d like to highlight the portion that isn’t. To begin that journey, I ask: Do you really understand what your brand is, and the power behind it?
I’m always looking for new ways to help owners and executives of growing SME’s understand that, and recently I came across a branding study designed to guage the power of a brand. I’m a big fan of Marty Neumeier, and since his [...] Continue Reading…
Welcome to 2013! Now, what are you going to do with it? As the famous quote says, time is the great equalizer.
The new year is a great time to contemplate what’s ahead, but it’s also a trap. With everything fresh a euphoric feeling of the possible sets in. But, the reality is that the actions you take, and how you take those actions will have far more impact in determining where you are at the beginning of 2014, than any vision, plan or goal.
And, the reality is that you don’t have that much time to do it. When you [...] Continue Reading…