How To Market and Sell What Your Buyers Are Actually Buying

How To Market and Sell What Your Buyers Are Actually Buying

Originally published on

For those who are obsessed with their products, the superiority of their business, or the beauty of their brand, this statement contains a hard pill to swallow. As great as your products are, as experienced as your team is, and as responsive your customer service may be, that’s not what buyers are buying. People do not buy your products, they buy the outcomes your products create.

Bob Moesta explores this principle in Demand-Side Sales 101. He shares the story of how he stopped trying to push his product on customers. Instead, he worked to understand the actual outcomes the customer desired. Then he engineered the buying process to satisfy the customer’s demand.

Buyers have a “job to be done”. That is why they buy a product. Period.

The “Jobs to be Done” theory (pioneered by Moesta and Clayton Christiansen one of my favorite authors) has been applied to design the world’s best-selling products. Successful product design begins with an obsessive examination of the outcomes that consumers want. Based on this, the product is reverse engineered to meet the demand.

The opposite of the “Jobs to be Done” theory is the “Product to be Sold” theory. Companies create products designed based on assumptions about what the prospect wants. Next, they fire up the manufacturing plant or the development team to build the product.

These ill formed products are presented to the sales team who then applies the “Quota to be Hit theory.” Sales reps assume they know what the prospect wants. Then, they proceed to put square pegs in round holes. It can work, but it creates a mess, a lot of hammering, and mediocre results.

Like Simon Sinek prophecies, we end up starting with “What?” and then try to answer the question, “How?” All of this ends up with frustration and often failure.

What if we actually started with “Why?” Why would the consumer care? Where are they feeling discomfort or frustration and why?

Moesta believes that for most companies there are only a handful (3-5) core “whys” that create demand. Once we intimately understand these drivers of demand, we can then craft our Ideal Client Experience and Focused Message around this demand.

Start with your Ideal Client. What outcomes do they want? This forms the foundation of demand. Build on this foundation and you’ll find success, even in an uncertain market. (Build on the foundation of how great your product and company are and you’ll discover that you have built your company on sand.)

How do you discover the outcomes your clients want? Ask and observe. Ask your Ideal Clients about their goals and challenges. Peel back the layers of the onion. Go deep. Seek understanding as to the real implications of the problem for their business and personal lives. (For more, read Value Is In the Eye of the Beholder.)

Then, watch. Pay attention to how the current situation frustrates them. What are their work-arounds? What’s holding them back.

From the client perspective, craft your Focused Message around the outcomes your Ideal Clients want. Propagate this message through all of your marketing and sales content. Then, design your Ideal Client Experience to match the actual demand in the market.

Just as manufacturers and software developers create successful products when they listen to their prospects, your marketing efforts will succeed as you pay attention to the actual demand, seeing to understand why your prospects buy and how they would like to buy.

Three Ways Your Company Values Can Improve Marketing and Sales

Three Ways Your Company Values Can Improve Marketing and Sales

Smart companies that use EOS® incorporate values to guide strategy and people decisions. Values also provide a foundation for effective marketing and sales.

1. Allow Your Values To Refine Your Ideal Client Profile

There are 7.8 billion people on the planet. There are hundreds of millions of businesses. Not all of these people and companies are a great fit for your business.

You use your values to choose and evaluate employees. Why not use your values to define your Ideal Client Profile? Will you sell to companies that don’t align with every single one of your values. Practically speaking, the answer is yes. However, when you are deciding who to target, why not target companies that align with your values?

Ultimately your team will be happier serving clients that align with their values. Your clients will be happier as well, leading to long term relationships, less friction, and lower costs.

As we lead our clients through Revenue Growth Planning Workshops we help them define their Ideal Client Profile. Some of this profile is demographic such as company size, industry, or geography. Perhaps the most important part is psychographic. Part of that psychographic profile can include your company values.

2. Integrate Your Values Throughout Your Messaging

Read most corporate messaging and you’ll discover what I like to call business buzzword soup. Here’s an example of buzzword soup from a technology company: “We help companies maximize their efficiency while reducing expenses and strengthening cybersecurity.” Is this statement true? Sure. Does it resonate with clients and prospects? Nope. It’s corporate white noise.

What if you could restate your core message using the language and spirit of your values. For example, let’s say the above company’s values were trust and teamwork. They might say:

  • “Trust is the bedrock of business success. When your business is hacked by cybercriminals, you risk losing more than revenue from lost productivity or ransom payments, you risk losing the trust of your customers. That’s why we’re committed to protecting your greatest asset: the trust of your customers.”
  • “Teamwork does make the dream work. However, it’s hard to work as a team when you don’t have the tools to communicate. That’s why our clients enjoy the way we empower their teams with technology that empowers teamwork. Then, we back it up with the support of our team.”

The two examples above said exactly the same thing as the corporate buzzword soup. They just presented the message in the context of values.

3. Use Your Values to Refine Your Client Experience

The authors of The Experience Economy make the case that client experience is the most untapped source of value and competitive advantage. What’s it like to be your client? How could you change your client experience to more closely reflect your company values?

At Convergo, one of our core values is “fun”. We believe that as we are working to help our clients grow, the process of business should be enjoyable. This value informs our hiring decisions. It also permeates our team meetings. It also shapes our client experience.

As we continually improve the stages of our Ideal Client Experience, we are asking ourselves, “How could we make this more fun for us and for our clients?” Just asking this question is fun.

As we enhance our client experience, we are doing it in a way that aligns with our core values. In addition to fun, our other core values are learning and transparency. We continue to incorporate learning experiences into the stages of our client experience. Throughout our client experience, we look for ways to demonstrate transparency.

Your company values can define and improve your marketing and sales. As you weave your values into your Ideal Client Profile, message, and Ideal Client Experience, the values come to life for both your team and your clients.

The Power of “The List” to Grow Revenue Faster

The Power of “The List” to Grow Revenue Faster

One way to grow your EOSⓇ business faster is to attract and cross-sell ideal clients. These are the types of clients that appreciate what you do and can buy everything that you sell.

Unless you have a limitless marketing budget and massive sales team, trying to sell to everyone is a recipe for failure. Both your message and efforts get diluted, lost in a vast ocean of noise. Plus, you end up wasting a lot of time talking to prospects who really don’t value what you do.

It’s kind of like your garden hose. When you first turn it on, there is a stream of water, but not much pressure. When you add a nozzle to the end, you can focus the stream of water and create pressure. If you want to kick it up a notch, connect your hose to a pressure washer.

The more you focus your stream of water, the more effective you can be. Similarly, the more you focus your marketing and sales efforts around ideal clients, the faster you can grow your business.

In Traction, Gino Wickman talks about building “The List”. We call the companies on this list, “Ideal Clients.”

Let’s explore how to identify ideal clients and focus your efforts to grow faster.

Building The List

In our Revenue Growth Workshops, we lead teams through the process of building their ideal client profile. At the end of the process, they have identified three things:

  1. Value: The revenue potential of an ideal client over 10 years
  2. Description: The characteristics of an ideal client
  3. Data Profile: The data profile of an ideal client

With the description and data profile in mind it is possible to identify “The List” talked about in Traction.

In reality, you should have two lists:

  1. Ideal Clients: Current clients that fit the profile of being an ideal client.
  2. Ideal Prospects: Target companies that fit the profile of an ideal client.

With your ideal client profile, it becomes possible to build a list of ideal prospects. These refined lists can be created with the help of data providers who can source information on the specific companies that fit your ideal client profile.

Once you know the companies that fit the profile, you also need data on the key decision makers and influencers in each of these companies.

What To Do With The List

These ideal clients and prospects should be clearly marked in your CRM and marketing automation systems. This makes it possible to track metrics around sales and marketing processes such as:

  • Sales
    • 100% Management of ideal clients
    • 100% Coverage of ideal prospects with prospecting
  • Marketing
    • Communication cadence with ideal clients
    • Outbound marketing to ideal prospects

Processes can be created, trained, and documented in each of these four core areas.

Step one is to get clear about your list. The more focused your Ideal Client Profile, the more you can focus your marketing and sales efforts. This will help you accelerate your growth.

The Top Question For Business Leaders: What Business Are We In?

The Top Question For Business Leaders: What Business Are We In?

Harvard Business School professor and the father of modern marketing, Theodore Levitt, asks a powerful question that every business leader, sales representative and marketing manager must answer: What business are you in?

The answer to this question will determine the future of your company. At this critical moment when the needs of your customers are changing, this question needs to be answered correctly.

The reality is that what you sell and what people buy are different. As I say in my book Revenue Growth Engine, “Buyers don’t buy products, they buy the outcomes the products deliver.”

Theodore Levitt would famously walk into his marketing class holding up an electric drill bit. He would tell the class that no one has ever purchased a drill bit, but what they bought was the hole. Some take it a step further and say that they aren’t buying the hole, they are buying the ability to hang a picture on the wall so they can look good to their friends. Others takes it even further, observing that the reason we want a picture on the wall is because of a primitive need to be part of a community, which will help ensure our very survival.

The point is, the buyer only bought the drill bit because they wanted the outcome the drill bit provided: a hole, a picture on the wall, the admiration of their friends, the ability to survive or some combination of the above.

What business are you in? When industries answer this question incorrectly, they set themselves up for failure.

Theodore Levitt also used the railroad industry as a case in point. The companies thought that they were in the railroad business when what customers were really buying was transportation. Had they seen this, they might not have lost business to transport trucks, buses, cars and airplanes. Instead, they would have seen the railroad as a means to deliver the outcomes their buyers wanted: getting conveniently and cost-effectively from point A to point B.

Gasoline stations can also be used as an example. Many think they are in the gasoline business. The reality is that nobody wants to buy gasoline. It is expensive, smelly and damaging to the environment. What they want is the outcome of being able to get to work, drive the kids to soccer practice or go on vacation. Gasoline is just a means to deliver that outcome. As soon as someone comes up with a better way to get the outcome, gasoline stations that don’t adapt are dead.

Dell thought it was in the computer business. As a result, it focused on creating an amazing supply chain that could deliver a cheap computer. Apple realized that it was in the business of helping people create ideas and share them. Computers (and iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TV and the related services) are just a means to deliver the outcome its buyers want. As a result, Dell is struggling while Apple dominates the stock market.

Most businesses think they are in the business of delivering a product or providing a service. For example, if your business sells copiers, you may think that you are in the copy machine business. If you are an accounting firm, you may think that you sell tax preparation services. If you are an IT company, you may think you sell technical service.

The way to get the correct answer to this question is to consider the outcomes that our customers want. If you sell copiers, the outcome your customer wants may be an efficient office and professional documents so they can grow their business. This type of business might ask the question: What else could we deliver to help our customers get these outcomes?

If you sell tax preparation, the outcomes your clients want are to reduce their tax burden, get a faster return and reduce the risk of an audit. Rather than market the tax service, what if the agency’s message led with the outcomes they deliver.

If you sell IT services, your buyers probably don’t understand what you do. The outcomes they are buying are uptime so they don’t face the cost and frustration of downtime stopping their business. They are buying security so they don’t face the cost and embarrassment of a data breach.

What business are you in? What outcomes are your customers actually buying from you?

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, these questions will be especially important because the outcomes that your buyers want may have shifted. Recent Gartner research gave insight into the shift in outcomes buyers want. Before the crisis, 2019 research showed that “55% of organizational redesigns were focused on streamlining roles, supply chains and workflows to increase efficiency.” After the crisis, the desired outcomes have shifted to things like agility, flexibility and resilience.

Avoid being short-sighted. Focus on the outcomes your clients want and you have a much greater chance of earning their attention and their business. In the process, the shift of perspective might also allow you to see new ways to deliver the outcomes your clients want, creating new business opportunities.

Originally published on Revenue Growth Engine.