I’ve got a good friend who is an executive in the office supplies business. His division sells to national accounts and he was telling me about a new client he had and a business review he was about to conduct. I (sarcastically) replied, “Wow! How much review do you need for paper clips.”
His reply was one that every salesperson and every business executive should know. He told me that when your selling the volume, his division does to large accounts, office supplies has nothing to do with it.
He talked about the technology that ensures people buy within their policy. He talked about logistics management, integration and other highly complex – value creating activities. He talked about complex pricing strategies to ensure that a) his company was price competitive and could win the business, and b) that the margins would still be sufficient to be profitable.
He told me that in the entire sales process for a $12 million dollar account the topic of office “products” never comes up.
I have another client who is about to land their single largest piece of business ever. We worked closely with them in designing their sales strategy for this opportunity and after the client asked to “skip the letter of intent stage, let’s just go to contract,” their CEO commented to me that they never even looked at the product that was being offered. I replied, “That’s because the product isn’t really important.”
Remember it’s the results that are important. So:
- Stop talking about the product, and
- Start focusing on the process you have to support the results you promise
Seize The Advantage! I’m seeing it. Businesses and consumers are beginning to lift their heads out of the sand. They’re hoping – they’re waiting. What are they waiting for? For someone to step up and really make their lives better – and I mean really.
What does that mean? It means that those companies that step up and create and deliver on a resonating promise will see profitable growth – and loyalty – beyond their wildest imagination. Companies that stop making buyers sacrifice will become the sellers of choice. They’ll gain such an advantage that it will be a generation before their competition will be able to narrow the gap. Don’t believe me – check out this study from The Kaufman Foundation. I love the tile, by the way: The Economic Future Just Happened.
Think about what that title means. If you haven’t radically changed your approach to the market, you’re now behind. So, ask yourself – and start answering:
- What would you have to do to deliver a selling proposition that was so resonating your desired buyer wouldn’t consider going anywhere else?
- How can you make money doing it?
Please forgive the challenges you may be experiencing with some of the links in our posts. We just went live with our new website and the kinks are still being worked out. If there is a link that isn’t working and you’d like a copy of whatever content it refers to, just email me a doug(at)imaginellc.com.
I hear it all the time: “I just need a brochure that explains what we do better,” or “If we could just create a piece that gets people to see how we’re different,” or “Hey, let’s mail our brochure to prospects and then they’ll be more likely to meet with us.” While I’m not (necessarily) against brochures or corporate collateral, the vast majority of them (like 95+%) are not only bad – they kill profits.
How? They completely commoditize you and your company. They’re like watching a home slide show, without the entertainment. High gloss and filled with we-do’s and pictures – here’s our warehouse, here’s our headquarters, here’s a stock photo designed to look like a client collaborating with one of our engaged employees, etc. They not only bore your audience, they make you completely indistinguishable from your competition (remember they have access to stock photos too).
I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again (and again) – your buyer’s don’t have the time, the desire, or the inclination to care about you. What they care about is what you can do for them. What you need to provide is context. Stop telling them about what you do, and start enabling them to understand how what you do impacts them in relation to the results they want at this moment in time.
To do this, you must stop thinking of the world from your perspective and start thinking about the world from your client’s perspective. It means that you must know and understand you customer better than they understand themselves. It means start creating demand, rather than merely fulfilling it; and creating value in all (and I mean all) aspects of your business development efforts.
Now, if you want a brochure that drives profits, make it a book; albeit a mini-book. Think about the business books that you’ve read (and enjoyed). What did they all do? They created value by addressing your issues, rather than talking about themselves. They diagnosed issues and helped you design solutions. They stood on their own.
Think about your favorite business book for a moment. What do you think of the author? In the vast majority of circumstances, I know three things about your answer:
- You have no personal knowledge of the author or their abilities.
- You view the author as an expert and you trust what the author has to say.
- The author did not provide you a brochure to “prove” their abilities or establish credibility. (The closest an author comes to providing a brochure is a bio and there’s a reason the bio is usually at the end of the book – it’s the least valuable part.)
This is why content and a content development strategy is so important. It packages your wisdom and capabilities in such a way that buyer’s desire it and it makes you more attractive. It forces you to create value – whether the prospect buys from you or not. It also drives better performance from your employees because they better understand their importance.
Most importantly, a good content strategy separates you from your competition and allows you to grow your profits.