Posts Tagged ‘sales strategy’

Selling for Non-Sales People … Continued

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Two comment that are so good I have to pass them on. The first is from an insurance agent, the second from the chemicals / plastics industry. Very different products and clientele, but the thought processes and the approaches are remarkably similar – and valuable no matter what you’re selling.

“Great point Bob. I remember as a young agent at NE Financial they had a great program for Target Marketing. The key was to specialize in an area or industry, such as contractors, or veterinarians, or whatever. The point was to find out everything you could about that industry and the challenges that the business owner or professional had so you weren’t just a “product pusher”. You then put together a team of professionals (cpa, p&c broker, commercial banker who all specialized in those industries) and you quarterbacked the group. When done properly you became a real asset to that business owner instead of just another salesman. You will bury your competition once you achieve the role of Advisor.”

“Good points Bob, one time in my career I had to “sell” a product that cost several times the next best alternative, mission impossible, no. But as you pointed out understanding the customer want and I found a key component of what they want is what they value. They may want a chemical that gives high yields, but they value consistency, reliability of supply, and customer service, that may go a long way towards meeting the want of high yields. Normally to get high yields in a process you need consistency in raw materials, reliability of supply keeps them from starting and stopping and helps yields, and customer service is important so you can be responsive to problems and prevent yield issues. So your correct, customer needs are important ore with customers values the jewels I have found in the ore that let me jump the price hurdle and trounce the competitors offering. The real key is sometimes customers don’t know what they value, they will tell you their wants, but the values is what I have found unlocks the purchase order flow. You are so right selling is a process – learn your customer, learn your customer wants, then discover what your customer values, then make sure your offering meets the values which locks up the sale.”

Fundamentals of Marketing and Sales

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Most of my adult life, I’ve marketed specialty plastics and chemicals to technically sophisticated business customers, while my wife’s family has earned a nice living in insurance sales and marketing. Now, there’s a world of difference between health and life insurance policies – and the mostly Medicare age consumers who buy them – and the high performance polymers used in innovative medical and electronic devices, cars and airplanes, building materials and green energy systems.

But … I’ve learned that, deep down, the fundamentals of marketing and selling are just that – fundamental – regardless of the product or service you’re selling. Using my Four Fundamentals to guide your marketing and selling plans can pay big dividends, whether you’re selling insurance or plastics, cars or machine tools or houses, dental care or home remodelling. What are those fundamentals?

1. Know WHO your potential customers are and WHAT makes them tick, then FOCUS on the segments that fit you best
“You can’t be all things to all people” is especially true in business. Focus your attention and resources on the people who are most likely to appreciate and pay for what you offer. Make sure you understand what turns them on and turns them off, where they go to find offerings like yours, and who they listen to when they make decisions about your product / service.

2. UNDERSTAND the problems and opportunities your customers face (especially the ones they’re unaware of)
Few of your potential customers (even the most experienced and astute) really understand how their life or business situation could be better. It’s up to you to know the ins-and-outs of their situation so well that you can paint a convincing picture of the better future they could have if they choose you.

3. DESIGN YOUR OFFERING (your product or service plus all the other ways your customers interact with you) to best help them address the opportunity or problem
These days, the ‘better mousetrap’ is often not the mousetrap itself but the training, services, support and friendly accessibility that surround the steel springs and trigger device itself. The more effectively your offering solves yohavur customers’ problem, the easier it is for them to understand the ways you will make their life better – and the easier it is for them to find and do business with you – the more successful you’ll be.

4. Make sure you STAND OUT from your competitors, in ways that make a difference to the people who’s buying decisions determine your success
Not long after your customers start to prefer your new and improved mousetrap, your competitors will too. Don’t waste energy complaining about copycats, but focus instead on making sure your customers have good reasons to spend their $$$ with you instead of the competiton. (Just please, please, please resist the temptation to start down the seductive but often dead-end road of a price war.

I’ve grown to expect one or the other of these reactions —
“Holy smoley! It’s too much! How can you expect me to ever know and do all that?”
— or —
“I’ve been doing this all my life, so I know all I need to know about my customers and competitors.”

Truth is that both of these reactions are wrong. The market knowledge and the actions that underlie my Four Fundaments are within the reach and resources of any business – large, small, individual. And even the oldest and most experienced business dog can learn some valuable new tricks by taking a fresh, unbiased look at their marketplace.

Wondering how to get started? A great way is to engage a consultant, for example: