Great design is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take way.
We’re in the midst of several messaging projects with new clients. As I’ve written before, a message if far, far more than the words you use to describe your company.
That said the words you use are very important. They should serve as the focal point for the actions of everyone in your company. If everyone is clear on what you are trying to do, their creativity can be released and great things happen.
Therein lies the rub. The purpose of your words is to create clarity. The biggest challenge I see in entrepreneurial companies is their ability to create such clarity.
When I talk with CEOs and sales/marketing executives I share with them that the secret of great design is the secret of great messaging. Great messaging is achieved when there is nothing left to take away; it is achieved when the essence of your company is clearly communicated.
Most messages are like a Rube Goldberg Machines. Complicated with lots of commas and “ands,” executives throw everything advantage they could possibly add into the mix. The hope is that if they say enough things, eventually something will spark interest.
The reality is quite the opposite. The end result is confusion in the market and in your company. My advice is to take away, take away, take away – until there is nothing left but the core of what your do; or more importantly why you do it.
As much as I would like to tell you about a short cut to resonating with your customers and Creating Demand, there are none. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the process is rather simple. The approach can best be summed up as: Deeply understand your customer’s business (and life).
The First Unbreakable Rule To Creating Demand is: Know and understand your customers better than they understand themselves.
You need to know:
- What drives their profits? And as a subset of that, what drives their revenue and costs?
- What are their key processes and how do those processes drive their profit formula?
- What are their key resources and how do those resources support their key processes?
- What is their customer value proposition and how do they deliver it?
When you understand these four areas you can begin answering these questions:
- What problems exist in their model that they aren’t aware of?
- Where are unnecessary choke points?
- How can they run their model more efficiently? More effectively?
- What opportunities could they capture with your approach?
These four questions are the basis of your business case. When your case is clear, you can provoke awareness and manage the sales process effectively. If you do not understand this and you attempt to move the sales process forward – it’s a good bet that you’ll find yourself in The Commoditization Trap.
To be honest, successful selling requires a degree of, for lack of a better word, arrogance. You must believe in your opinion and philosophy more than anyone else, and, at times, when there is no hard evidence to support your point of view.
I am a huge detractor of the adversarial school of selling. I firmly believe that the selling should be collaborative and supportive.
However, there are critical points in the sales process (typically very early and about 2/3rds of the way through) where a salesperson must have the confidence to assert their opinion and to control the agenda.
At the beginning of the process, you must be confident enough in your knowledge of what’s going wrong in a prospect’s world to overcome their doubt and lead them to that awareness. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. You’ve got the experience to know the most common problems that are occurring – you just need the confidence to assert that opinion.
Next, the vast majority of sales opportunities hit a point where the sale looks as though it’s going “off the tracks.” Complexity is setting in, buyers aren’t responding as fast as you’d like, and to make matters worse, they’re misunderstanding just about every action item you’ve given them. Budgets appear limited and, as a salesperson, you get that horrible feeling in your gut.
This is the time to assert your command and control the process.
I’ve learned that Command is not easily taught. I’ve also learned that anyone can have it. It’s simply a choice – are you ready to make it?
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek
These of some of the wisest words I’ve heard in years.
Many of you may already be familiar with this video. For those that are not, I promise that watching this will be 18 of the best minutes you’ve spent on your business.
Sinek does a masterful job of sharing why companies are being commoditized (without every using the word commoditization). He shares the remarkably simple secret of success for companies like Apple, Starbucks and Southwest; as well as the Wright brothers, and, even, Martin Luther King, Jr. He also shares why TiVo has never been a commercial success.
Please watch this 18-minute video (I promise it’s worth it), then answer the question below:
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve been spending a lot of time working with clients to build out diagnostic systems to create value and create demand. I recently referred one of my clients to a blog post I wrote almost 5 years ago. I thought it was valuable enough to share again.
My experience working with fast-growth companies has taught me that there are three levels of value that a company can provide:
- Level one occurs when you provide people with the knowledge of ‘what’ needs to be done.
- Level two occurs when you provide the knowledge of ‘how’ to do it.
- Level three (execution) occurs when whatever needs to get done actually gets done.
Level one is all about diagnosis. Today, too many companies hold back level one value, fearing that if prospects know what needs to be done, they’ll go out an try to do it themselves or to do it cheaper. The reverse is actually true. Give the ‘what’ away. The more people know what to do, the more value your company’s knowledge of ‘how’ to do it becomes.
When prospects don’t know the ‘what’, they self diagnose; and when that happens, you are, and should be, just a commodity. So, stop “protecting’ your intellectual capital so fiercely. Start giving it away and fast growth is yours.
A very common challenge for salespeople occurs when a prospect starts asking pricing questions too early in the sales process. Ineffectively handling that question can hamper the rest of your sales efforts.
It’s important to understand that the price question is not always what it seems to be. More often than not it is merely a defense mechanism used by the buyer.
Salespeople who handle the price question effectively understand that the prospect does not really need to know precisely how much something will cost; what they need to know is that:
- They will be safe
- The salesperson will be honest
- The entire process will be fair
When confronted with the pricing question, you must follow the fundamental rule of improvisation comedy: Never Say No! It’s always, “Yes… and… “
When asked the pricing question, you must answer it. Failure to answer the question can kill your momentum and introduces fear into the process (the very emotion we are trying to avoid).
For example, answers like these sound good, but in the end your are just saying, “No.”
- Well it’s too early to answer that question.
- I’ll be happy to answer that question later in the process.
- You know I don’t really know enough about you yet, as soon as I know more I’ll be happy to share…
We recommend handling that question by providing a range. Confidently respond will the range your products and service may take – from the lowest to the highest.
Here’s an example:
Frank, it’s a little early for me to be specific. There are still several issues that I’m not clear about. I’d be happy to share the range we typically deal with if that would help?
In some situations where just slight tweaking and structure are needed, something like this could be as little as $10-15,000. In far more complex cases where not only do we have to set up a new plan, but we ensure that the proper pieces are in place to support it, it could be as much as $75-90,000; and literally everywhere in between. In your case Frank, I’m pretty sure that we’ll be towards the lower end.
No, this post is not about religion (at least in the formal definition).
I had a fascinating week last week; speaking with a group of CEOs in Eau Claire, WI and meeting with a prospective (and now) client. The conversations were all about new business growth and new initiatives to support that growth.
It’s an exciting time right now as companies are actively engaged in their business development activities.
The challenge we all face lies in the knowledge that yesterday’s activities are not enough to achieve our desired results tomorrow. We know we have to do things differently, but how do we know what will work?
I had this exact conversation with my client last week. As we were talking about The INTELLIGENT GROWTH Blueprint™, he wanted to know how he could be sure that this approach would work, when what they’ve tried in the past wouldn’t. By this point, we had fully diagnosed his current situation and I had shared our philosophy for growth.
So I told him, “At some point, you have to have faith; faith in us and faith in the approach. If you don’t have faith, there isn’t much chance anything new will work, because you’ll give up on anything once it starts getting tough.”
The faith I’m talking about is often called inductive reasoning – taking “logical leaps of faith.” I wrote about this when I reviewed The New Design of Business. Simply put, you cannot prove something new will work, until it does.
Admittedly, this is tough; it’s the “art” part of business. But it is absolutely necessary to grow in the future.
What role does faith play in your strategy?
I was speaking to a great group of CEOs in Eau Claire today. Two-thirds through my presentation, one of the CEOs commented, in exasperation, that he wished he knew what I was talking about three years ago, before he starting falling into the commoditization trap.
He talked about the decisions and strategies that he was pursuing that he wished he hadn’t. I responded, “It’s never too late.”
- It’s never too late to:
- Build a great company.
- Put customers first.
- Truly engage with you customers and prospects.
- Create value in your sales efforts.
- Follow and engage in your passion.
All it takes is a decision – your decision. So stop making excuses and get to it.