What This Book is About
This is a book about knowing what you sell. No matter what product or service you sell, if you want to achieve business success, then knowing what you sell and what your customers are buying, is one of the most critical aspects of your business success.
Customers Buy Outcomes
Customers, whether they be individuals or businesses, are buying an outcome. Most of the time, this outcome is defined more by them, than by you, the seller. An outcome can be highly specific or very vague. Sometimes, it can be both at the same time.
If you want to achieve success, you’ll figure out what the outcome is you want your customer to achieve, and orient every aspect of your business around assuring that not only that your customer achieves the outcome they seek, but that you know what that outcome is, in concrete terms, and how it is measured.
Sometimes, your customer will tell you he has a problem, in your language, without really telling you what his true desired outcome really is. This is often because they have not thought about it. For example, what’s a plumber’s outcome in the eyes of the customer?
If a customer has a leaky pipe, he will call a plumber to get the leaky pipe fixed. But when you ask yourself, why does the customer want to fix the leaky pipe, you realize that he may have many reasons he wants to spend the money on a plumber to get the leaky pipe fixed. Those might include keeping water from damaging the house or running up his water bill. But one level up from this level of analysis, you will see that what the customer really wants is too have clean water continue to come out of his pipes when he turns the faucet on.
That’s what this book is about - finding out what customers really want and making sure you know what you sell. It’s not at all easy. Nor is it simple.
That’s why throughout this book I will use ‘war stories’ and short vignettes to make my point. It is based on the most successful approach to teaching business ever developed, the case study. Consider this a series of case studies all wrapped up in a guide designed to help you uncover what you sell. If you can’t currently say what you sell, then this book will help you think through your product or service design. Ultimately, what you sell and what a customer wants need to perfectly align if you want to dominate your market.
Do You Have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Do You Even Know What a Unique Selling Proposition is?
One thing for sure is your customers don't know what your unique selling proposition is nor do they know what you're selling. How do I know? Are you customers all over their favorite social media channel extolling the virtues of their latest purchase from you? If they are, are you able to listen to what they are saying and does it align with what you believe your USP is? If not, you've got some work to do.
35 HubSpot Customers Have All Had the Same Problem.
You see, most of the time when I work with a new customer, I have to start from the sales transaction and work my way back up. What does that mean? The first thing it means is that I have to understand what a business sells or what they think they do. They could sell a product or they could sell a service (or both), but most importantly, in order for me to design an effective marketing program using the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Methodology, I have to thoroughly understand what a business sells.
However, what I have found is almost universally, most customers, no matter how long they've been in business, have not truly given it much thought about what it is that they sell.
Selling Value is Selling Money
As a Fortune 500 SAP quota carrying industry principal, I have learned the importance of selling on value. It's a sales strategy I've learned to master to drastically shorten the typical sales cycle, regardless of market, product or service. It's also one of the most effective sales strategies I've personally employed to penetrate deeper into my customer base.
What does that mean ‘selling on value’? How do you determine what value is? Traditionally, value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, in our case in the eye of prospects. When it comes to financial value, value is revealed in the numbers. What it really comes down to is whatever it is that you do, especially in the B2B space, you're either decreasing cost or you're increasing revenue, there are no other levers that you're messing with - those are the only two.
Emotional, Status Achievement, or Value Delivered.
Ideally, Your Value Delivered Presses All Three of These Buttons
I’ll give you a prime example, though the time has probably passed, I always wanted to own a Lamborghini but being a family man, I ended up buying a Lexus LS 460 el presidente which had all the product features I knew I wanted and many I was unaware of: it wasn't cheap, and I love my car and the famous Lexus customer service, but it's not a Lamborghini. I did rent one once.
Quick War Story.
The boss that I used to work for, just to poke a stick in that wound, had a sales training day where we all went to a racetrack and drove actual Formula 1 racecars or versions thereof so that emotional need was satisfied.
Sometimes You Provide a Product and Service
That's an example of a combination service and product offering. The racetrack we went to for a day of sales team training made you feel like you had done something that day and that you had truly learned something that's very hard to learn. Of course, they made sure plenty of team pictures were taken and we all made sure to spread news of our days' activities on our favorite social media channels, such as Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter.
Spend Time With Customers
They had spent a lot of time with their customers and their potential customers finding out what motivates them. That's what this book is about - the importance of digging in to find out what your product or service actually does. You'll hear the term “jobs to be done’ mentioned in this book.
JoTD - That's not simple to find out.
Bottom Line - It's important that you talk to real customers as often as possible everyday. They’re hard-to-please; this book will explain to you not just the importance of knowing that but the process, procedures and methodologies for finding out what you truly sell and of what value it is to the market. This is one of the critical First Steps in solving one of the nine problems that I have identified over the years working with dozens of companies in a multitude of industries that must be solved in order for you to achieve business success.
This is Not a How to Sell Book
There are plenty of books out there about how to sell, plenty with named methodologies. Though I mention them in this book, so that, at a minimum, you'll know they exist. I've developed, over many decades, what I consider my own unique method of sales, which is a deeply internalized synthesis of numerous sales methodologies and 'things that worked' I've put together over the years. Those are for a another book, in particular, one I published called Solving Your Growth and Revenue Problem.
How I Became a Top Software Sales Guy
If you were to think about it, you might find it odd that a guy who actually started out fixing F-4 Phantom Fighter Jets would end up selling complex ERP software. Especially since I ended up selling SAP, yet was deeply trained on Oracle. Though I sometimes have a hard time deciphering how it came to pass that I became a top salesman, I do know I originally started out selling seeds and Christmas Cards, and ran my own farm store along 135 S close to Story, Indiana.
In short, I guess had those people skills from early on, and I used that turn many prospects into paying clients.
I Could Actually Sell Ice to an Eskimo
As I was always hustling growing up, I was frequently told I could sell ice to an eskimo. Oddly enough, I did one time, but it was to one who had moved to Florida and ran a Bar & Grill. I was selling and servicing freezers, and sold him a new one. So, challenge accepted and goal achieved.
What Was the Critical Element in Making That Sale, and ALL Others?
I knew what I was selling. I didn't just know the performance characteristics of what I was selling, I knew the benefits of every product. I didn't always have a way to easily convert those benefits into hard dollar values. But I do now. I also learned early on that people buy much more than just what you see. They buy convenience, confidence in you, your methodology, your company, your reputation, and many things they cannot identify. The skill is identifying a prospects needs, and drawing a map from those needs to your product or service's ability to satisfy those needs.
That's Why Constantly Learning From Customers is a Critical Skill
I've travelled the world over, worked in 39 countries, sometimes for short periods of time, other times, for years. What I've found, despite people's insistence that they are different, is that most people have common wants and needs. This is as true for businesses as it is for individuals. That's why my key sales skill boils down to active listening and intelligent question formulation and asking. It takes practice. But you can learn to do it better if you follow some well known 'first principles', which boil down to listen more than you talk.
Objections are Often Opportunities
I also have found myself either participating as a pre-sales team member or most often, designing and orchestrating a complex multi-session pre-sales demo, sometimes stretching for weeks. I've found that if I already have done my work, by preparing a solid business case with a 10X ROI, and weave that back into the story of the demo, and am able to jot down objectives as we go alone and address them, either on-the-spot or, after committing to circling back to the objection, that I can usually turn an objection into an opportunity. This is a critical step in the decision process, especially of very complex, high-value products and services.
How Easy is Your Product to Consume?
Customers are spoiled these days. They can go onto an ecommerce platform like Amazon and with one click, instantly buy something. That's not an accident. That's an outcome of an intentional design process that is constantly honed, with approximately 1400 user test being conducted at all times. It also sets expectations of a consumer grade experience for enterprise sales, whether you are talking about software or physical product.
Does Your Website Have Pricing?
In today's modern internet age, most websites that are well designed, have pricing. Those that do not, do not convert nearly as well as those that do. Though it may not be feasible to sell a multi-million dollar ERP system with the click of a button, it is entirely feasible to sell simpler software that serves as a 'land and expand' on-ramp for further sales. To make that work, you have to not only know what you sell and what value you bring to the table, you have to be able to build a roadmap that customer ascend up as they consume more and more of your product.
How You Sell Counts
As a Hubspot Certified Digital Marketer, I can say, that from experience, that while knowing what you sell is a critical first step in successful sales, knowing how to sell is just as critical. That's why a salesperson with an email address, equipped with a digital marketing platform, can be one of your most effective revenue generators. I don't mean an email you have from some mailing list, I mean an email you obtained, with a customer's full consent, usually via some form of freely given content.
Do You Use Video to Get Emails?
Youtube, a Google property, also happens to be the second largest search engine after Google Search. I bet if you looked at your search history, right now, you find you had been watch a lot of Youtube videos, and many of them were 'how to' videos. Those happen to be outstanding ways to provide useful content, for which many prospects will readily provide their email.
Please Let Me Know How Liked It
I hope you learn how to determine what you sell and enjoy reading the book and look forward to to hearing your feedback
-CONCHITA ORTIZ - INTERNATIONAL SAP CONSULTANT