I came across two fantastically staggering statistics recently:
- Most buyers are now 80% of the way through the sales process before they talk to a sales person
- 33% of people want a “sales free” experience
Even if these statistics are only half true they have some pretty profound implications for the way in which we do business, and as a result of which, we (at Statius) are already considering significant changes to our sales processes!
Both of the above statistics came from an awesome presentation by a guy called Marcus Sheridan who is now the CEO of a marketing communications company… previously he nearly went skint selling swimming pools after the 2008 crash. But he made a number of changes to his business and managed to not only survive but also thrive…under some pretty harsh conditions… he now uses the thinking he developed to help others grow and develop their businesses.
And, when it comes to ambitious owners becoming great leaders, I’ve never met one that doesn’t want to grow their business, so, one of the most important questions they can ask themselves is;
- Why are our ideal target customers NOT buying from us?
Marcus’s statistics begin to give us a clue…
All companies will have “ideal customers”: the people that have heard your message, know who you are and need what you’ve got… but still they don’t bite…
In the desire to drive growth the mistake many make is to keep pushing products and services into new markets using new methods, when instead, effort is almost certainly better spent on finding out why the people you are currently targeting are NOT buying.
Potential clients in your current market who know you and are familiar with your products and services and need them, but have yet to buy, are probably neglecting your offer for one of four reasons:
- Risk: if the risk of failure, or pain (real or perceived) is high or at least higher than their current situation they are unlikely to make the leap
- Friction: (often described as switching costs) if the friction is too high they are unlikely to make the change… This is why loyalty cards work so well. But friction in a B2B environment might include costs associated with the potential new company learning about your systems and processes. Think about how long it would take for someone to fully understand your strategy, your business plan, your aims and objectives, your IT systems, your HR systems, your operational systems, your health and safety systems… all of this learning (and the associated cost of teaching) is actually a cost attributable to “friction”
- The difference that makes the difference: (I love this saying, which I believe is attributable to the subject of neuro linguistic programming… great subject horrible name). This is about ensuring there is a well articulated difference between what you are selling and what your competitors are selling and that that difference is important to the customer. If there is no (perceived) difference the client is very unlikely to make the switch. You need to be able to articulate what it is you do and why that is important.
- Your value or success proposition: it has been said that “value created but not delivered is of no value… and value delivered but not perceived is also of no value…” Essentially, at its core, is your need to get noticed. We know the key to growth (and success) is to create more value than the competition. So, if we can understand and define how our target customers define and judge success we’re onto a winner, we will drive more repeat business and win new customers
I personally really like the idea that at each and every “sales call” somebody always gets sold too… if you are doing the selling and you didn’t make the sale … you’re the one that got sold to!
So, anybody that says no, says no for a reason! If you can figure out those reasons and address them before the client makes contact with you, you’ll have found yourself a set of magic keys to unlock your top line. As a result, when you lose business, you and your sales team need to continually ask questions like:
- What did they have or do that we didn’t?
- Why were we not a good fit? (or not perceived to be a good fit?)
- What was the difference that made the difference?
So, if the above are the four key reasons for rejection what might the solutions be?
De risking the situation is about overcoming fear much earlier in the sales process, and if indeed, as Marcus suggested, most buyers are 80% of the way through the sales before they make contact you need to be providing as much information up front on your website. The question you need to be asking yourself is how can you become the number one trusted brand in your sector, this would typically mean becoming an “educator” for the industry and answering all the hard questions potential clients might ask before they make the call to you. If you are the people answering the hard questions, they are much like less likely to go anywhere else. You’ll be the ones who have built the trust.
But there are other ways too…Is there some way that your present proposition can be de-risked by offering a 100% or money back guarantee? Can you in some way, shape or form, provide some kind of certainty of success?
The key question here is establishing if there is any possibility of breaking your service into smaller component parts thereby reducing the friction cost of each part. Alternatively, if you are trying to edge somebody out of an existing position and you need to learn about your potential clients’ current processes and practises, can you take the upfront learning hit and claw it back at some later point?
3. The difference that makes the difference
Think of your points of difference (to the competition) as the beauty parade. Can you define the difference that makes the difference between you and your competition? Once defined, publish it, promote it, write case studies / create videos and blogs about how you have applied it to your clients and most importantly the results that you have helped them deliver.
To help, I’ve included our points of difference template which you can download and share with your team in order to help you get clarity on what your points of difference might be.
4. The value or success proposition
Your value or success proposition is about what the customer gets, and specifically, how they are “better” once you have done your job (worked your magic).
Again, to help, I’ve also included our your ideal customer template which asks a whole host of questions designed to help you get clarity on your ideal customer and your value proposition. I hope you find it useful.
Returning to the idea of the last blog and “thinking time” there are a number of questions around why your ideal customer is not buying that you might ask yourself and ponder on. They include:
- What would it take for us to double our sales?
- Why aren’t our sales x times what they currently are?
- Why do (and didn’t) customers buy from us? Hint – ask them! (That is, those you win and those you lose!)
- What do we need to do to become the number one trusted voice in our sector?
- What is it that the competition is doing that’s de-risking the buying situation for them?
- How do customers perceive the risks in undertaking things we want to do for them?
- If we want customers to switch what are the hurdles that we are going to have to overcome?
- What are the issues that cause friction?
- What specifically needs to be done to reduce friction?
- Can we create a compelling frictionless promise that would cause customers to flock our way?
Difference that makes the difference questions
- What is the difference that makes the difference?
- What is the one thing / the top three things/ the top five things that make the difference for our target market?
- How can we differentiate distinctively the one thing / top three things / the top five things?
- How can we increase the effectiveness of our communications / messages?
- How can we make our communications / messages more compelling?
Success proposition questions
- How can we get better information from the people we didn’t manage to sell to?
- How did the people we didn’t manage to sell to define success?
- What is really important to the people we didn’t manage to sell to?
- What are the real expectations of our target customers?
- How do we meet these expectations more effectively than our competition?
Answers to each of the above and similar questions will provide you with the information you need to, slowly and surely, ratchet up your sales performance overtime.
As the world moves on and people get sucked ever deeper into the world of what my wife calls “electronica”; the realm of laptops, mobiles and tablets and personal interaction is steadily, systematically and surreptitiously eroded from the sales process, the sales process needs to adapt and change.
If you can develop educational and helpful content that seeks to guide your target audience through each stage of the sales journey answering each and every one off their questions, offsetting their concerns and fears, before they even make contact with you … the more trusted you will become.
If you too can win that coveted trusted number one spot like Marcus, you will also thrive and survive.
Related tools and ideas
- Customer lifetime value
- Getting great customer feedback
- The five ways to improve sales and profitability
- Creating raving fans – using the ladder of loyalty
To find out how Statius can help you deliver:
• Better strategie
• Better systems
• Better measurement and
• Engaged people delivering
• Better results
Call us now on 0208 460 3345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org