Posts Tagged ‘meaningful’

A Good Business A Great Life #9: Preferable to all Others

by Jack Hayhow on September 26, 2011

Peter Drucker famously said the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.  In order to do that, of course, your business must provide a product, service or experience the customer judges to be preferable to all of the other products, services or experiences currently available.  In other words, you must create a compelling offer for the customer to buy what it is you sell.

A compelling offer has four primary characteristics.  It is:

  1. Meaningful to the customer
  2. Divergent from the competition
  3. Intensely focused
  4. Concisely communicated

Let’s consider each of these characteristics…

Meaningful to the Customer

Since Edward Chamberlin first coined the term “product differentiation” in his 1933 book, The Theory of Monopolistic Competition, marketing gurus have beat the drum of differentiation.  And differentiation is critically important.  But not all differentiation is created equal.  Some differentiating qualities matter to the customer, others don’t.  For example, you might be the only bank in town that has horse in your logo.  That probably doesn’t matter to very many people.  On the other hand, if your bank is open 24 hours a day, that might be meaningful – especially in a community with a large number of night shift workers.

Divergent from the Competition

The second characteristic of a compelling offer is that it is divergent from the competition.  It’s unlikely that what you sell can be completely divergent from your competitors.  But if your product, service or experience isn’t divergent is some significant way, it simply doesn’t provide the customer with a compelling reason to buy from you.

Intensely Focused

The third characteristic of a compelling offer is that it must be intensely focused.  In their wonderful book, Made to Stick, the Heath brothers lobby for focus with this quote from a defense lawyer,

“If you argue ten points, even if each is a good point, when they get back to the jury room they won’t remember any.”

Customers and prospects simply don’t have room in their heads for all of the wonderfulness of your product.  So focus.  Tell them what matters most – emphasize the one thing that is most likely to compel them to buy from you.

Concisely Communicated

Finally, the fourth characteristic – your offer must be concisely communicated.  In the screenwriting trade, this is called the logline, or more commonly, the one-line.  The one-line tells potential viewers what the movie is about.  In his book, Save the Cat, Blake Snyder uses these examples of a one-line:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife and her office building is taken over by terrorists (Die Hard)

A businessman falls in love with a hooker he hires to be his date for the weekend (Pretty Woman)

Your one-line must explain to the customer what he or she gets, and it must do so in a heck of a hurry.  If your customers and prospects can’t easily remember and repeat your one-line, you probably need to keep editing.

If your offer contains these four components, it is likely to be compelling and your company is exceedingly likely to grow… leading to… A Good Business, A Great Life!

Tribes do not include everyone… or in other words, not everyone forms a tribe. It is constituted of people who care about a specific topic or interest or looking to bring a specific change. Real change comes from real people – who then influence others – who, in turn influence others.. .and before you know you have a tribe!

Tribe is needed to change the world. And Changing the world is addictive.

Social Media can be overwhelming but it has created a tremendous opportunity for anyone to be a leader. There is no test to pass, no permission needed. Before you needed millions of dollars to get on Television. NOW you need ten dollars to create a video. So, if you care about something, you can get up and lead.

If you are someone who wants to change the world, you will continue reading this post because you still need to understand how to gain advantage using social media and not get simply distraught by its demands. The understanding involves:

  • Understanding transaction: If you have thousands of friends and followers on Facebook and on Twitter and not one of them is helping you to set up a meeting with a prospect, connect you with a decision maker or help you in any way to meet the objectives of your initiative – these friends and followers are worthless. Tribes exist because people care about something and they have the collective power to do impossible things – otherwise how do we explain airplanes and satellite communication – almost unthinkable a while ago.
  • Understanding Meaningful: If you have to sell everything to everybody, then you will either drive yourself crazy or fail in your initiative. You need to sell it to a few who care about what you have to offer. Then they will talk about it to others. So, there is no need to SPAM people. Just find people who care about what you have and talk about you. The election of President Obama is an example of how people found meaning in his message and then brought in more people. And together these people changed the world.
  • Understanding Focus: You cannot possibly be doing everything to change the world. Become focused on what aspect of the world will you change and the specific task that you believe you are good at in this effort. Tweeting, Facebooking, reading blogs, Youtubing – all these activities require a lot of time – if you are good writer – just write, if you are good networker just meet people – don’t do everything.

To change the world you need a Tribe – where people care about the same thing… are skillful in different tasks and… have relationships with people who care about the same change.

This is RAW power needed to change the world. Once you belong to this tribe, when you enroll people – you will discover it is addictive – not because it is COOL to do so. Because you will see the limitless possibilities and positive change that will impact others lives.

The Worst Demo I never Got

by Wayne Turmel on November 16, 2009

demo wrongIf you’re the VP of Sales for a software or other service company I want you to listen to this cautionary tale.  It’s absolutely true and ought to make you ask some important questions about how confident you are in your inside sales or demo teams. More importantly, I can make some educated guesses about how they’re measuring this sales person’s performance and that really ought to make you go hmmmmm. At any rate I was able to avoid a painful experience and what I can only guess would have been the worst demo I’d ever seen.

A cold call/email for no reason: I got a voicemail from someone at a company who “wanted to speak to me” about their software-as-a-service product.  I suspect I know which list they got my name from but “that’s okay”, I figured… they’re trying to make a living. I then got an email at about the same time with the same kind of offer. Of course, there was nothing about their product other than the name and a hyperlink. My immediate thought was “If I don’t know what it does for me, why would I want to talk to them?” Something told me this person is cranking out the cold calls because they have a certain number of contacts they have to make. That’s fine, I’ve been there and done that, but I also know it’s not terribly productive except that it keeps their boss happy.

A kind offer to waste my time: I have great sympathy for sales people just doing their job so I emailed back and said (essentially) “tell me what it does and what it has to do with me and we’ll see”. I then got a response telling me what it is (an “email marketing tool”. Thanks for clearing that up!) in a single sentence, but I really should schedule time for a 30-minute demo so I could “really see what it can do”. Note: They didn’t ask or even assume what it could do for ME, just what IT could do. I don’t know about you, I don’t have half an hour (and is anyone foolish enough to think it will really only be 30 minutes out of my life???) to waste just watching someone tell me about a product I don’t need or want. Again, I figured their “sales management process” demands a certain number of demos a week. I know fully well the assumption is that if they do “X” number of demos, some of them will convert. Exactly what is their conversion rate? Do they measure it?  Imagine how high it would be if they only did demos to people who actually might buy the product to start with!

It would have been a complete waste of THEIR time too: Had this sales person asked a couple of questions they would have known I’m not a good prospect for them. Instead they invested a phone call, two emails and blocked out half an hour of their time (not to mention putting me in their carefully managed CRM pipeline) without ever asking a couple of basic questions which would have taken me off the list immediately. And let’s do some math: 5 minutes of questioning up front versus 30 minutes per demo to someone completely unqualified who will never buy.  It makes no sense, but if I’m being measured by how many demos a week I perform, you can bet I’m going to schedule them. And let’s face it; it’s less painful than filling that time with 15 more cold calls from an obviously flawed list of leads.

Here’s what I avoided:

By not taking up their kind offer of a “30-minute FREE demo” (are there people who charge for that honor?) I avoided several things:

  • A carefully scripted (we can only hope… either that or a rambling, unprofessional) 1-way monologue about their product and its features
  • A demonstration of all the cool bells and whistles without asking any qualifying questions about my company or goals
  • A not-too-subtle avoidance of the price and other key questions until the very end (although that’s probably one of the first questions I have and I’ll sit through the whole thing wondering about it)
  • If this person’s demo is carefully scripted, it MIGHT contain a call to action like moving to a trial account. (About half the demos I watch and review for people have no clear call to action so I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here). My guess is I won’t have been asked who actually makes that decision or whether we’ve got budget for it (assuming they ever get around to telling me the price) until the very end of our time together.

I don’t blame the sales person here, at least not entirely. The big problem is some assumptions on the part of sales management:

  • Measuring activity will get results–  you can make 100 cold calls but if you’re calling people who aren’t good prospects you’re wasting a lot of time and effort and demoralizing the sales person
  • The demo itself will move the sale forward– Are we supposed to believe that a good pitch will move an unmotivated person to tears of joy and make a sale?
  • The function and features will make the sale- If I see the wonder of your product, how can I resist? I can think of 20 reasons not to buy something- starting with I don’t need it
  • All customers want the same thing and we can provide it- an interesting notion but you know it’s not true. Find out what I need and give me THAT, then we’ll talk
  • Product knowledge is really the critical part of a demo- asking the right questions, acting like you care about my business and showing me what I want to see (especially in the early stages of the sales cycle) is far more important to a customer than your User Interface or the fine details of your algorithm

Basically, I was able to avoid having a half hour or more sucked out of my life by a “well intentioned” person just doing their job and appeasing their boss. Not exactly a constructive way to do business but one we see all the time.

How are you using demos in YOUR sales process?