The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

Aligning Differentiation to Your Buyer

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

You may know what makes your solution different than others in the market, but aligning that differentiation to the customers is how elite salespeople move the needle. In this podcast, John Kaplan runs through best practices for aligning differentiation to a customer's decision criteria. Learn more about Project Welcome Home Troops here: http://www.projectwelcomehometroops.org/ Read why John is so passionate about this organization here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/special-mission-helping-veterans-john-kaplan/

Hello, welcome to the force management podcast. I am Rachel clipmill or, joint today by John Kaplan. Hello, Rachel, today we are going to focus on differentiation. It's a really important topic. We get a lot of questions on it and today specifically, we're going to talk about setting the stage to compete with other vendors early in the process. Yeah, Rachel, I think you know differentiation is critical to sales success, but people often get tripped up on the timing of differentiation. So I think it's a great topic today to talk about the timing of when to do it and how to do it. And this is a really big topic that people need help on, which is why people might be hearing the ambulance going on. So we often talk a lot about articulating your differentiation in a way that has meaning to the buyer. I've worked with a lot of the team members share force on content around that topic. We don't have as much content talking about the timing and when you need to introduce differentiations. So let's talk about those fundamentals, about positioning in it early. Yeah, I think you know you really lose impact and control when you differentiate late. So early you have more influence with the prospect and you can set the stage for the importance of your differentiation as it relates to the buyers positive business outcomes and the require capabilities right. It's always difficult to back the buyer up right. So the point we're making here is that that positioning against a competitor, including do not thing do an internally, starts in discovery. So let's let's dive in. How do I do that, John? Yeah, so I love it. So everything starts in Discovery, even negotiation. But we will, you know, let's stick to the topic of differentiation today. So there's an old saying, an old great thing that says people rarely argue with their own conclusion. So the skill is making your differentiation the customers conclusion. It comes down to helping your buy or see that your differentiation will help them achieve their positive business outcomes by, you know,...

...the typical things, by decreasing costs, increasing revenue or mitigating risk. Is what the majority of our customers are really really faced with, and so you need to ask great discovery questions just show the importance of your differentiation. We call those questions trap setting questions. So trap setting questions are, you know, where we're trapping the weakness of our competitors and showing off our strengths. And I think every time we talk about trap sitting questions or differentiation, and really with anything we do, we always like to walk to example. So we've got a really good example today. I think that will demonstrate a lot of these points that you're trying to make, John. Yeah, so before we get into the real life example, let's just kind of set the stage a little bit. So I always begin a sales call with writing down my top three differentiators. So, whoever you are out there, you should write down what you know you believe are your top three differentiators. Then I know that by the end of the conversation or sales cycle with a customer, those differentiators have got to be represented in the customers require capabilities or decision criteria. So the dilemma becomes how do I get the customer to say that my differentiators are required for their success? You know, this is one of the greatest skills of elite sellers right and getting the customer to say that's a point you made earlier about customers or anybody really rarely argue with their own own conclusion. So you need to help them see their own own conclusions. So let's go through that. How do I do that? Give you the Howch yeah, so let's talk about the how. And so one of the organizations that's but let's use one that I think everybody will be able to relate to. And I don't mean to get dramatic on this podcast here, but I'd really like to talk about one of the organizations that's really, really near and dear to my heart. It's called project welcome home troops and there are nonprofit organization dedicated...

...the saving and improving the lives of veterans who are suffering, you know, the devastating effects of trauma from war and with situations like PTSD, opiate addiction, suicidal thoughts and and and sue and just presenting preventing suicide. But I'm just going to say here's John. It's a really important organization and I know some of you out there listening maybe well, yeah, but I sell software. Stick with us. The things that John's going to talk about really can apply to what you're doing in your day to day yeah, thanks for that, Rachel. So, so they work with, you know, government programs like the VA and then also directly with veterans. So if you're thinking about them selling their you know this organization selling the government programs and they're also selling the veterans to try to get them to participate in their programs so they can get great outcome. So they do incredible things for suffering veterans in there. You know, the results are outstanding. They're literally saving Li lives every day. All right, that's my plug for project welcome home troops. I Love Them. And Rachel, you might be able to give a little connection to pwht www dot pwht dotorg somewhere in the follow up for this podcast. would be awesome. Yes, we have a lot of link in the blog that pushes this podcast and also go ahead and put it in the show notes so it's easy for you all listening out there to access the organization. You're awesome. Okay, so back to differentiators. So one of the things that sets this organization apart their differentiators. You know, it's their differentiators from other organizations. So I'll just give you their top three and will just use them as examples here. So one of them is they have easy to follow tools and techniques that work quickly and have longevity. That's one of their differentiators as opposed to other programs that are addressing these issues. For Bets, the other thing. Another one is that they are the the programs are developed and delivered by...

...vets for vets, with no need to explain or justify the story of trauma. And another one is no or little medication required, which is a big, big deal with the struggles with opiate and opiate addictions. So this would be their differentiation of why of that would choose to come to this Organization for help as opposed to other organization. Exactly, exactly. All right. So these are the differentiators. Step one, as I said before, if I'm if I'm, you know, working for this organization like I do, and to help support them, I write down these differentiators on a piece of paper and I commit myself to getting the that to come to his or her own conclusion that they need these as requirement. They need these differentiators as a requirement for any type of program they'd be they'd be looking at. So the translating into business terms, I need to influence this into these differentiators, into the required capabilities or the decision criteria. Okay, that will step one. Step two is now I'm in preparation, so I have to stand in their shoes and ask myself a question while I'm doing preparation. So why are these differentiators important? What bad things will happen to these individuals if these differentiators aren't in place? And I really really want you to do this. I want you to look at your differentiators. I want you to prepare and say, so what if my customer doesn't experience this differentiation? What bad things will happen? And if you can't answer those questions, you're going to have a tough time doing this exercise that I'm talking about. If you can't answer these questions, go back to your company and say I need to answer this question. You need to explain to me what bad things will happen if this so called differentiation is not in place. All right, let's talk about step three. Now I just ask a question that gets them to come to their own conclusion about...

...needing your differentiator. We call this a trap setting question, but remember you're not trapping the customer, you are trapping the competition or, in this case, you know, the competitive idea of doing nothing. Okay, so trap setting question is nothing more than a discovery question with the intent to trap the competition. Please remember that you're never ever trapping the customer. All right, so back to our example. Let's just use that first differentiator. The differentiator was easy to follow tools and techniques that work quickly and have longevity. Okay, so when I look at that and I say so so, so what are the bad things that could happen? Well, easy to follow tools. If they're not easy to follow tools and techniques that can work quickly, some of these programs for these individuals go on for years and there's heavy medications involved. There are there are no ways to become self reliant and they're really, really difficult, difficult and heavy challenge is associated with that. So easy to follow tools and techniques that work quickly and have longevity. I have to ask discovery questions, which gets the in this case the that or in your case, the customer, really in the position that says, man, I need that. So how do I do it? Well, I just ask discovery questions to get them talking. The more I try to tell somebody that needs they need something, the more they're going to resist me. But the more that I ask them questions to get them talking about the problem and wanting to solve the problem, the more they're going to want to solve it themselves. So just some quick examples, you know, get them talking. Tell me about what you would like to see in an ideal program. What would you need from a program to help you feel self reliant? These are all examples of trap setting questions. Man, they don't sound very harsh or trapping.

Or they're not supposed to be harsh. They're supposed to be conversational. They're supposed to be getting the customer to contemplate the problem of not having that differentiator and then getting them to say I need that differentiator. So let's continue here. What has been your experience with other veteran programs? What worked well? What would you like to change? Give me an example of the last time you try to explain your story to a non veteran. A lot of times what we hear is I have nothing in common with that person. I'm embarrassed to talk about the things that happened over in a war environment. I don't want to talk to somebody. I'm ashamed of talking to somebody about something that happened in a war environment. So that's a big, big deal. John, I'm going to jump in here because one of the questions that you just gave as an example is it is a technique that I know I've written about the in the blog before and a lot of our facilitators talk about it. Is, if you want somebody to talk about something negative, as someone what has worked well or what's going great right now, because human natures is yes, this is working great, but let me tell you what's going on our what's really hurt. And heard my stomach and that was one of the examples you have there. Love that. Yeah, I love that. So, yeah, so the what you're bringing up, Rachel's really critical. If you ask somebody to talk about what they don't like about an existing program or existing software or existing situation, there's an old saying that, you know, God designed us this way to be loyal to those not present, and so it's we don't talk, we haven't really earned the right to get somebody to tell us what they don't like about something. So what we found is, and all the data points to it, that says, if you want to get somebody to talk about what they don't like. Ask them what they like, and typically what happens when they have a problem is they give you some answers about what they like about something, but they quickly refer to what they don't like. But that was on their terms. If you would ask them,...

...tell me what you don't like about your current program they're less likely to tell you so. If you ask him what, tell me what you like about it, they'll tell you some things they like, but they'll quickly shift two things that they don't like. It's such a really good point, Rachel, that I would love for the listeners to try that give us some feedback on that point. John. It just an example that just came to mind. We're in a vendor situation now where we're looking to switch from one vendor to another. We're not super happy with the current vendor or in this meeting and the potential vendor just started take talking negative about the the people were currently working with it, and I got offended, even though I know that they have those weakness. Has Been Like who do you know? Like you know I'm here. I'm like you don't she had? She not earned that right yet to go there with me yet. It's sort of like I can talk bad about my sibling but you can't. It's right, I used to say sometimes in training I'll say, you know my dog, you know, may she rest in peace, my little dog sparkle. Some of you on line here have heard me talk about it, but you know she was an not the dog. She's actually cute. But I used to tell people, you know, my dog might be ugly, but you can't call her ugly. Only I can call my dog ugly. And I know we're making fun about this topic, but it's so critical. You have to earn the right and the best way to earn the right to get people to speak about something they don't like is not to tell them or ask them about what they don't like. Let them tell you what they don't like. So, in summary of that, ask them what they like about their current situation, what they like about their ability to do something, and they'll quickly move to what the challenges are. All right. So, coming back to this example, we've asked some great trap setting questions. You know, we're trying to trap that do in this case, for the veteran that do nothing is the biggest competitor that we see is a veteran that feels like they can't do anything and so they're stuck in this do nothing mindset that is just really, really debilitating. So once...

...we have them talking about the examples of how they would like to see it differently or better, now we just use our skill sets. We now know we have some require capabilities and we can transition. Once we're taking our notes, we can say, okay, it sounds like Mr and Mrs veteran. So now I'm transitioning. I've asked the trap setting questions, I have built up enough information that says these people want to change and now I just summarize. So it sounds like. Mr Mrs Vetteran, what you're trying to do is you're trying to find a program that has easy to follow tools and techniques that were quickly and have longevity. You want a program that's done by vets for vets, with no need to explain or justify the story or trauma to anybody else that might not be able to relate. You're looking looking for little or no medication required, the ability to gage and ongoing support meetings, flexibility to accommodate you know your lifestyle, enable families to understand the vets experience and then, you know, support the families wellbeing. So I've just kind of given you. If that showed up as required capabilities on like a pick list for veterans, those are exactly the ones that they would pick. Now, I just didn't tell them that they needed that. I asked them a series of discovery questions which allowed me to summarize with the required capabilities. There's a high probability that they will say yes, that's exactly what I'm looking for. Okay. Now, sellers, we've earned the right. We've attached it to big business issues, in this case for project welcome home truths. These are life or death issues. We've attached it to the biggest business issue per se. We've established the required capabilities. You know, the metrics would be things like time to substance, independence, percent of nights with peaceful sleep. I'm just giving you some examples. positibusiness, outcomes, required capabilities and metrics. Now we've learned the right to talk about us. So in my case and this example, now I learned the right to talk about project welcome home troops...

...and your example. Now you've earned the right to talk about your solutions. So let me tell you how we do that now. We do it. Now you get to talk about how you do it at your organization or how I do it at project welcome home troops, how I do it differently or better, and then where we've done it before. And this is an example. I know it was a long one, so I thank you for indulging me, but it is at a great example how you have effectively influence the customers required capabilities or decision criteria with your differentiation. And this is an absolute elite skill. And, to the point that we made at the top of this podcast, it starts early. You can't be asking these questions late in the sales cycle about why somebody is choosing a competitor over you. It has to has to start early. So I'm going to wrap up a couple of the tips that you gave John. Write your differentiation down early. Write down the differentiators that are important to the buyer. Then decide so what? So what? If those aren't in place, why should that buy our care? And the third point, why are those differentiators important to the buyer? I can't tell you. So I'm in marketing. I get have to how many marketing softwares are there out. There's or million. So we get called out all the time and will get emails where they're touting the differences in their software, their platform or how they integrate with this serum or that marking animation platform, and half the time like well, we don't even have that platform, so I don't care. Right. It means nothing if it's not important to the person who is making the decision to purchase your product. So start with the end game. What as a differentiation that you you need in those required capabilities? Figure it out before you start the discovery. That way, when you're in discovery, you have the road map. You know where you need to get them to. Yeah, let me just say one last thing in a wrap up for me, if you're a customer, excuse me, if...

...you're an organization, you're listening to this podcast and you're in marketing or you're in product management or you're in executive you need to know that this is what your sellers struggle with and if you don't have good differentiators that you can stand up that says, okay, these absolutely have an impact on our customers. The differentiation is valuable to our customers. There is a specific difference and how we do it versus how our competitors do it and why that difference is good for our customers. And you don't arm them with things like great trap setting questions and discovery questions and how they're tied to very specific required capabilities. We just didn't pull those out of our back pocket. This is a process that a company has to be really, really aligned behind. Now, if you're a seller, you got to trust the process. If your company gives you these differentiators, you got to go through exactly what we just shared with you and go execute it's great. Thank you, John. Thank you for running through that topic with me today and for those of you listening, it is a holiday season and many of you are in the spirit of giving. Project welcome home troops is a great organization to support this time. I Miss Thank you, everybody, for listening.

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