In a crowded marketplace it becomes increasingly difficult to differentiate your company’s product from the rest: even with an outstanding solution that has the potential to wow your prospects.
Of course the first hurdle is to have a product that people want — although let’s face it there are plenty of SaaS tools out there that no one actually needs that still make money. The tech firms behind them are doing a great job of convincing customers that they ‘need’ their products and this is a key lesson we get taught at sales school — to identify the challenges your buyer has that your product can provide a solution for.
Needs Versus Desires
Apple is the classic example of a tech giant that has consistently differentiated itself from other firms. One of the key ways they have achieved this is by understanding the difference between needs and desires.
We may need a laptop to get a job done, but we desire a MacBook to do it on. Playing on consumers’ desires is a standard practice of the B2C marketer or sales rep, but what about in B2B sales?
I believe that desire has a place in B2B sales and can be a useful catalyst for getting your product in front of decision makers. After all we’re not really selling to a company that has business objectives and challenges to meet, we’re actually selling to people who have desires and aspirations that go beyond their company’s goals.
Differentiate Your Product By Being Human
So my first insight is to do what Apple does and focus on desires, not just needs. For your B2B buyers these desires are aligned with their roles within their organisation, but are different from their company’s objectives. For example:
· The company needs an SaaS tool to achieve a goal or address a key challenge
· The buyer desires a product that will enable them do their job better and further their career
If you’re to get the attention of the humans within a company and stand out from the crowd, addressing their motivations and desires is a great way of getting your foot in the door.
Aligning Sales and Marketing
Working for a large tech firm you won’t have much control over the product and its Unique Value Proposition (UVP). So if you’re selling products that have limited opportunities to really differentiate them from competitor’s products, you need to find other ways to differentiate your product.
One way successful tech companies do this is through marketing, creating memorable campaigns that make buyers notice them. Sales may be able to influence marketing in some ways — feeding back what customers are talking about, what their challenges are, what they want and desire — so if marketing ever ask for your opinion, make sure you seize the opportunity!
Great sales and marketing teams are closely aligned; there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’. Companies that get this right ensure that the marketing to sales funnel is relevant to all parties involved. Goals and targets are aligned with positive outcomes — closed deals.
In many tech companies marketing departments are responsible for creating content for sales teams to use — case studies, product sheets, presentations etc. — but often sales teams are not using this content proactively. This can be for a number of reasons, but it usually boils down to either 1) they don’t know it exists or how to access marketing content, or 2) the content isn’t relevant for their buyers.
Successful tech companies understand that buyers want content; for research, to explore different options, and make a case for your product. Great content will help differentiate your company and product, so create it and use it.
The UVP of the Sales Process
My final insight into how successful tech companies are differentiating themselves from the competition is about how they use the sales process to create a UVP.
I think there are quick wins here as many companies still expect their products to sell themselves. The buyer-centric sales process has gained a lot of traction, and for good reason. As explored above, buyers are human, with their own desires and challenges separate to their company’s overall objectives.
Those companies who ensure that their sales process is focused on the buyer, who listen to them and address their desires, create WOW moments and roll out the red carpet, are able to differentiate themselves without necessarily having a better or more innovative product.
Here the sales rep can take responsibility and seize this opportunity.