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The Inbound Sales and Marketing Blog

Buyer’s Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Outcomes

What you sell and what your clients buy may be two very different things. We think we sell products and services. What our clients really buy is outcomes.

Theodore Levitt, the father of modern marketing put it brilliantly: “People don’t buy drill bits, they buy holes.” 

Your prospects don’t want to buy products, they want outcomes. For example, business owners don’t buy color printers, they buy color printouts. If you boil that down even further, they don’t really buy color prints. If they are printing invoices, what they are buying is the ability to collect money faster from their customers. If they are printing marketing material, what they are buying is competitive advantage and business growth

What Would Happen If You Told Your Prospects What Types Of Clients You Want To Serve?

This week I’ve been creating the website content for the new suite of services our team here at Convergo will roll out this summer (can’t wait to launch this!) It's got me thinking about what our ideal prospect looks like.

We all have ideal prospects. These are the future clients that are a great fit for your business. They value what you do. They align with your values and culture. They recognize the value you deliver and are willing to pay for it.

We also all have prospects that are not a good fit: They don’t value what you do. They don’t align with your values and culture. Instead of recognizing value, they want to grind you for a lower price. While you may make a little bit of profit on the deal, you’ll lose all and more of it as your employees get frustrated serving a client that is misaligned with your company. Usually, these non-ideal clients end up leaving and are often your most vocal critics.

Idea: What if you told your prospects what types of clients you want to serve?

I think if we were more explicit about who we wanted to serve, good things would naturally happen. Ideal prospects would resonate with your values, vision, and culture. They would say, “Yes! Finally! I've been looking for a partner like this!” The non-ideal prospects would be repelled. How helpful would that be?

As I’m writing the content for our new website, I thought it made sense to tell our prospective clients what type of companies we like to work with. The hope is that it will create resonance with our ideal prospects while repelling our poor-fit prospects.

This is a work in process, but I’d love to hear what you think. Here’s my message:

Sales Prospecting With a Positive Attitude

Consistent prospecting is essential for sales success. Without a steady stream of prospects, the funnel dries up. Then you end up taking desperation deals and flipping your base.

Effective prospecting requires a positive attitude. The challenge is that if there is one thing that can chip away at your attitude, it’s the rejection you get while prospecting. As a sales professional, you need a proactive plan to keep a positive attitude.

In today’s negative world, a positive attitude stands out. A positive attitude is contagious.

Don Hutson offers inspiration on the importance of a positive attitude in the first chapter of Selling Value:

“High performers are motivated and ready to make great things happen! If they get some motivation from their boss or significant other, or another source, that’s fine, but they understand that their PRIMARY source of motivation comes from within.”

Our responsibility as sales professionals, sales leaders, and business owners (all of us are in sales) is to maintain a positive attitude.

How can you cultivate a positive attitude to fuel your prospecting? Here are a few ideas!

What Would You Do If 100 Prospects and Customers Were Lined Up Outside Your Business Right Now?

Imagine if you had 100 people lined up outside your business right now. What would you do? Certainly, you’d send someone out to greet them. You’d ask how you could help. You’d get the prospects involved in sales situations. You’d do your best to answer customer questions and send them to support if necessary.

100 people lining up outside your business sound like a dream? What if it happened every day?

The Importance of Looking Trustworthy

“People will accept the advice of insight sellers only to the extent that they trust them.” - Mike Schultz & John Doerr, Insight Selling

Trust is a critical component to sales success. In their buyer research, the authors of Insight Selling learned what we know instinctively: trust is one of the top 10 factors separating first place from first loser in the sales process. Lack of trust pretty much guarantees you’ll lose a deal. Low trust hurts client loyalty.

Companies and sales reps need trust. This means you need to be trustworthy. It also means you need to look trustworthy. Today, I want to assume you are a trustworthy salesperson working for a trustworthy company. Let's turn our focus on the importance of looking trustworthy.

How Much Money Will Ineffective Sales Prospecting Cost You This Year?

Stephen Covey says that highly effective people put the “big rocks in first” because if you don’t do the important things first, they get crowded out by the smaller things.

The biggest rock for any sales professional is prospecting. It’s the #1 driver of success and the #1 thing that gets pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. Jeb Blount, the author of Fanatical Prospecting, famously said, "The #1 reason for an empty pipe is the failure to prospect!"

What’s The Annual Financial Impact?

What’s the annual impact of inconsistent prospecting? I think this is a worthy question for every sales professional, sales team leader, and company owner to consider.

To calculate the impact, let’s begin with some assumptions.

How 30 Years of the World Wide Web Has Improved the Sales Profession

Today is the 30th anniversary of the world wide web! Nothing has changed the sales profession more than this technology. As I reflect back over my 26 years in sales, allow me to offer some observations on how the internet has changed sales for good.

Sales Discipline Equals Financial Freedom

“Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.”
-
Jocko Willink

Jocko provides helpful insight for sales professionals and leaders in the final chapter of Extreme Ownership : Discipline Equals Freedom.

If you want the freedom of excellent outcomes, you need discipline. In sales, this means that if you want financial freedom, you need to establish discipline.

The extent to which you embrace discipline will determine your level of financial freedom - avoid discipline and you’ll cause frustration.

Let’s explore some ways that sales professionals and teams can integrate discipline to improve their freedom.

Flipping MIF Is Easy. Net-New Is Hard.

In the office technology industry I serve, we talk about Machines-in-Field (MIF). Every 3-5 years the leases on these machines expire or the machine wears out. Sales reps “flip the MIF” when they upgrade customers to new equipment.

MIF-flipping plays a critical role. After all, we need to maintain our customer base. However, we also work in a mature market. That means that average selling prices are dropping faster than cost of goods. Each year the delta between sales price and cost gets squeezed a little tighter.

What does that mean?

Companies and sales reps that have historically depended on MIF-flipping will suffer a slow and painful decline.

Some businesses are counteracting the revenue decline by purchasing more MIF to flip. The top line revenue of these businesses look good, but ultimately, these businesses will also feel the pain.

Five Problems With Prospecting

“The number one reason for empty pipelines is failure to prospect.”
- Jeb Blount, Fanatical Prospecting

Prospecting is the lifeblood of sales. If there are not new opportunities going into the funnel, sales will dry up. Pipelines become anemic without consistent prospecting. Weak pipelines lead to desperation deals as reps scrape the bottom of the barrel to somehow hit quota. Empty pipelines lead to low morale.

When pipelines are full of opportunities, reps approach deals with more confidence. This maximizes win rates and profits. Morale soars as the sales bell rings consistently throughout the month.

With prospecting being so critical, why does it seem to happen so inconsistently?