Natural born …challengers! – 6 ways of knowing if you are doing ‘challenger sales’!

Buying behaviours changed. Buyers got more sophisticated and knowledgeable over time.

They know what they need and to look for.

This had a massive impact on what added value Sales People can – and need to- bring to the table during the sales process. If you are selling more commoditised services we can clearly see the market moving toward productised service offerings with a self service purchase process mostly through e-commerce.

However, if you are selling ‘solutions’ that still rely on some bespoke scoping, Sales People will have to adapt to a more sophisticated Buyer Audience.

So what this change entails?

Once I read in an article, the best sales people are not those who can listen or persist (as previously thought) but  those who can challenge their clients’ thinking…

…and how true is that!

…but how do you know if you got it what it takes to be a challenger?

PURELY based on my own experience…if you tick the boxes below… you probably are.

A natural born challenger…

  1. is extremely good at questioning.(and how do you know if you are good at questioning? the quality of your questions are reflected in the quality of the answers) Some people are really good at listening but a challenger is not only good at listening but extremely good at questioning.  Which also implies, that a challenger never makes statements, as per point 1, he asks questions and leads the other person to draw his own conclusions.…and by doing so, a challenger rarely takes credit for it…as such, the ‘intervention’ seems fairly passive and seamless, occasionally manipulative.
  2. is a creative thinker. You can predict, analyse and put two and two together even if you do not have all the details in hand. In other words, challengers seem to be always one step ahead…
  3. is brave and enjoys – actually strives on – taking risks. Why, because if you challenge people, you can easily find yourself out of your comfort zone, having to take punts just to trigger reactions.
  4. is always very passionate. Only passionately caring about something/somebody can make you challenge somebody else’s thinking and behaviour. If not, you would not feel it was worth it (because it is a tough job)
  5. tends to be very lonely.  People take their time before things dawn on them. And that can feel a looooong time to wait.
  6. and last but not least… a challenger always wants to be challenged. If you like challenging other people but not being challenged back…then you are just an arrogant b@s!@rd.
Posted in marketing, strategy | Comments Off

Value creative – the most important asset for a fast growing brand

Recently, I was told I am good at ‘seeing the money’…

….so I got the task of ‘developing propositions’ as part of my current job.

Whilst spending hours and hours answering one simple question

what people are happy to spend money on?’ …

I could not help thinking…if I need to re-invent our propositions , then probably it means we failed to make money (or at least enough money) with the current ones.

Eu euh…

this was a fundamental error in my thinking…

and I realized that when I read a blog from my favourite brand agency Wolf Ollins, talking about the commonalities among very successful and fast growing brands.

They identified 5 common features and arguably being ‘value creative’; is the most important one … and they gave the Lego example – ironically of which – I have blogged about in the past.

Being Value creative = constantly finding new ways of making money.

They have given the Google and amazon.com examples as being the best at  successfully identifying and strategically investing in new revenue streams..

Anyone’s proposition is irrelevant – even it is the best idea in the World – if people simply just not ready or willing to spend the money on.

During the process of proposition development, the one critical conclusion I had to draw was:

It is not because you do not spend your money on 1 thing, that you will not spend your money on 10 different things!!! So the real questions should be: what those 10 things are and how quickly you can access that market?!

Posted in marketing, strategy | Comments Off

Selling consultancy is a ‘piece of cake’ – literally!

When I walked into a very authentic cake shop in St Ives, I realized, ‘selling cakes’ and ‘consultancy ‘ are two, very similar stories.

Why selling cakes and consultancy is the same?

I looked around and saw a dozen of very attractive cakes, all screaming ‘eat me’. At this stage, I am an intrigued but confused buyer to the extent that it pushed me over the edge of asking the ‘cake lady’ – which one do you recommend?’

This is a strategic decision…All the cakes look magnificent… you feel safe in your choice of tea room…you know…you are just about to experience the highlight of your day…week…or even month but you need advice!

Which is what I did…. I asked for help,

..and got the worst possible response…

‘all of are cakes are nice’.

Not only this didn’t help me at all…but I also suddenly realized.. this is what most people say to their clients, when all they need is advice!

What’s wrong with not giving advice?

Let’s just walk through the psychological status I was in….

I went into the shop because I liked the shop window

I enjoyed what I discovered inside

I trusted the brand

Consequently, I would trust their advice and I wanted their help.

Which, from a brand point of view, the ideal situation you want your buyer to be in.

But instead of having any guidance, I had to confront the very lonely state of mind of having to make a decision on my own again.

This is what they could have said….

It depends…

If you want something light…but nice.. I would go for our home made flapjack because we used a special yoghurt coat (which they did)

Or you want to indulge yourself because it is raining and the bank holiday weekend sucked, I would definitely go for our brownie with a cup of coffee…

If not, you can try our specialty, a rhubarb cake which we are famous for.

Clear USPs would have made my decisions so much easier.

At the end of the day, we should never forget every person (at least, every girl) on Earth, would like to be challenged to not to go for the chocolate cake!

Posted in marketing | Comments Off

True story – how I generated 400 leads in 300 days on LinkedIn…and at NO cost!

You should read this blog if you think LinkedIn is the right place for you to market to your b2b audience but also if you have serious doubts about the whole social media story for b2b companies. When I started to do this campaign, I wanted to show to the business that I can generate more leads through social media that we can ever  deliver through any traditional channel.

And I did.

Below are some of my key learnings.

Learning 1 – you do need to know your audience. You have to know what type of people/job titles you would like to engage with.

Learning 2 -  you do have to have content that engage your audience. This is critical! BUT, do not think you have to have something extremely special! Do go on other similar forums and check what content makes people tick.

Learning 3-  Choose the right forums. Big forums do not necessarily mean more leads. Smaller but niche forums might be a better fit for your business. A good test: if you find other discussions in the same forum interesting, the chance that your discussion will be interesting for others is much higher.  I audited 10 forums and chose only 5 to promote my content.  Interestingly, not the ones that I expected to work actually delivered the leads.

Learning 4 –  You have to give something away for free. This is ‘no brainer’ marketing.

Learning 5 – Use very simple headlines when you start the ‘discussions’. I tweaked the headlines for each of the furum to reflect the people’s needs in that specific forum.

Learning 6 – I did not use any landing page for people to download anything. They just had to send me direct messages. This allowed me to know exactly who is interested in it.

Learning 7 –  Based on learning 6, if people send you direct messages you will have to be prepared to spend time on sending them the info.

Learning 8 – Connect with everybody who asks for the report. You will have to follow it up with subsequent messages.

Learning 9 – You have to achieve the tipping point. Once you have enough comments on your discussion forums, the interest will grow exponentially!

I suppose the only thing I lied about in this blog is that it did cost me. It cost me my time. I genuinely did not expect that many people asking for the report, so I underestimated the time it took me to send them information, but at that point it did feel it was worth it!

Posted in marketing | Comments Off

10 best email subject lines

Emails will never die. Despite the sharp rise of social media as promotional channel, email is still by far the most popular communication channel, especially in the b2b space.

However, despite a pretty crowded place (average business person receives 150 emails a day) very few people seem to revolutionalise the market.

So, we have to go back to basics if we want to increase the chance of people reading our emails.

Effective subject lines seem to still be the silver bullet when it comes to making people click through.

Below are my top 10 subject lines all from b2b companies.

  1. Don’t eat the elephant.
  2. Only 10% of the projects are on time.
  3. Troubling news about your meeting.
  4. Men are from Mars. That chart is…
  5. Bad meetings suck!
  6. Bite the wax tadpole!
  7. This can’t be legal! It’s too..
  8. You are not alone!
  9. I am confused (true story)!
  10. Mimi’s pooping prospects?

Why they are good?

These subject lines are good because they all respect some of the fundamental rules of marketing:

  • You remember them.
  • They stand out from standard subject lines…
  • …whilst they remain professional (except perhaps for number10).
  • We can easily relate to them (number5 or number4).
  • Contains some shocking facts (number2).
  • Makes you wonder what on Earth it means (number6).
  • They play with your emotions (number8).
  • You have to read the email for the Subject line to make sense (number 6 and number 10).

And if you wondered what companies these examples were picked from Smart Software and from Frank Rumbauskas. Thank you for both organizations for keeping my inbox a better place!

Posted in marketing | Comments Off