Jay Abrahamone of the most respected marketing strategists, has one of the pillars of his Marketing Parthenon – education of customers.
An informed customer makes better decisions, and generally in your favor.
The bigger reason why education helps is that it goes below the radar of the prospects. Most prospects have their antennae always looking out to see if someone is trying to sell them something. The moment they sense that, they bring up their barriers to hearing about what you want to say.
When they see that you are doing selfless education, they hear you. Once they keep getting educated on a continuous basis, they start trusting you. If you show them proof of how you have helped others then the trust grows even stronger. You position your company differently.
During this process when you start introducing your product in a non-intrusive manner then subconsciously the prospects start gravitating towards you and if they have a need which your product can fill, then by default they will choose your brand because you have built the trust.
When there’s trust, factors like pricing etc. take a back seat. Your competitors will be compared to what you offer, not the other way around. Your competitors won’t even realize what hit them.
The other advantage of educating people is that then they come to you for advice, they list their challenges. Using these inputs you can further refine your product and make it more valuable in the eyes of the customers.
Till next time then keep educating your prospective customers.
In any relationship and more so in sales, it’s the value that you bring to the other side which makes people want to be connected to you.
When you are doing marketing, the agenda is to create a relationship between the company’s product and the customer. But when you are in sales, it is all about the personal brand of YOU.
That brand of You gets created with the Value you bring to the table specifically. If the prospect does not find you knowledgeable on different aspects of his business and requirements, he will consider you a waste of time. So even though you may have the best product or service in the market, they will not buy from You.
As a sales person today, its table stakes to get to know about the person you’re meeting, about their business, industry challenges, regulations etc.
You also need to be able to challenge the assumptions that the customer is making and showcase the same to them. Most professional customers today like to interact with equals. When you create a differentiation with Value, you become the trusted advisor. That’s how you also improve your personal “positioning” in the market.
Gone are the days when salesmen could just wing a conversation about the weather, the photo frame in the customer’s office etc.
Its getting more and more difficult to get an appointment with a customer for a meeting these days. Get better prepared, figure out Why should the customer even talk to you. That “Why” will then help you create your Value.
Till next time then, create your own differentiation with the Value you bring to the table.
Over the last few posts I have been talking about how better questions can make a difference in the success that you achieve in the market. While my focus is on the B2B market, the general principle will apply to any market.
Today the questions I am talking about would help in making your messaging and route to market better. It will then help you identify the constraints you can face, the models you have to apply etc. Again I would highly recommend Dean Jackson’s Morecheeselesswhiskers.com podcast and his & Joe Polish podcast ilovemarketing.com
1. Is the product or service that you are wanting to sell going to be used as a first time buy. If someone has never used a motorized vehicle then a 100CC mobike is a first time buy for them. Trying to sell them a 650CC motorcycle will not work.
2. Will the product be an upgrade or replacement. If you know the customer is already a user of your Air Conditioner for the last 5 years then they could be ready for a replacement or upgrade. In IT is called a refresh cycle which each company decides.
3. Will the product or service be for emergency use. If a tornado strikes and there’s a damaged roof or water in the basement then you need to get it out NOW. Then there’s no time for evaluation of multiple options.
4. Will the product be an accessory to a key product. Smart phone covers are an every day example. So you need to be able to reach those buyers who use the phone for which you have the covers.
5. Will the product/ service be for the repair of an item. Duck tape is a very good example of this or a tyre repair shop.
6. Is what you are selling aspirational in nature. Then you have to target the people who already use something and may now have the money to aspire for something bigger or because their families or job responsibilities have changed. Aspirational is a little different from upgrade in the sense that upgrades are generally considered incremental in nature.
There could be some specific scenarios which apply to your business and have not been listed here.
Once you can map where all your product or service plays, you can design the market route, the messaging etc.
Generally I keep my posts short so you can read them while waiting in the line to get coffee. This one has become slightly longer. I hope its useful.
Let me know your views.
Till next time then.
I learnt a very important concept yesterday while watching a video of Brendon Burchard from the ilovemarketing mastery program by Joe Polish.
He was explaining about how he strategizes a book launch. A book launch is another form of a product launch with the product over here being a book.
I have been in Product Management for quite a long time and some of the concepts that he spoke about were standard.
However one thing which got me thinking and which you also need to understand if you are into Product Management is differentiating between ancillary products / services versus next set of products / services which are higher up in aspiration but are however part of a common ecosystem.
As per Brendon an ear phone, phone cover are ancillary while the iPhone, the iPad and the Mac all part of the integrated product set which Apple sell all the 3 items to their customer base all the time.
So even though Android is there with the so called “open” environment with a huge ecosystem, with full fledged interoperability and there are so many companies who sell more phones than Apple but no company makes as much money whether its with phones, tablets and computers.
This got me thinking. If you look at other companies who are really have ruled a lot of industries – the integrated product suite does come to mind.
IBM had their set of products and services which were generally all integrated. That was the biggest value to large customers who did not want the hassle of integrating products from different vendors. Customers could easily buy another set of products with a clear knowledge that they were safe because it was IBM. So even though a lot of companies came out with so called “open-systems” and individual discreet products, IBM had their clientele clearly defined and have been making a lot of money.
This has got me thinking. While we do think in terms of the next set of products/services that we should have in our suite, to clearly have an integrated suite where the customer has the comfort as well as the aspiration to take the next product from us needs to be thought off. We also need to clearly differentiate between ancillaries and next level of products so that we have 2 sets of revenue streams.
Pls tell me if you have had success with this kind of an integrated product suite. I would like to know your inputs in the comments section below.
Till next time then.