Sales Positioning for B2B Growth
Consistent business growth is the result of careful planning and management. What is often missing, however, is positioning. It is essential to position your company for growth. You do some of those things already. You position yourself by getting your product developed, hiring the right team, and getting the funding you need. Think about how to position your company in the market and with your customers.
The three components of positioning for your sales team are Market Position, Ideal Customer Profile, and Value Proposition. These things help you communicate the right message to the right people, so they know you are an option for them to consider.
If your business has been around any time at all, you have a position in the marketplace. Your "position" is how you are perceived. The question is, have you positioned your company the way it needs to be positioned to grow?
Imagine you are trying to buy sports shoes and are looking at a wall of options trying to decide what to buy. There are different brands, colors, and types. Color and style might impact your decision, but you also perceive Nike vs. Adidas vs. New Balance differently. Perhaps you are a serious runner and believe New Balance makes the best running shoes. If you think that, it is because New Balance has worked hard to position themselves that way.
Do people perceive you the way you want to be perceived as a solution to their problem, in terms of quality or compared to your competitors? People often have misperceptions about companies and products. It is your job to make your customer perceives you the way you want to be perceived.
Part of your positioning will have to do with the problem you solve, the quality and price of your product, and how you compare to your competitors. There are other ways you can influence perception. You can position your product as cutting-edge, the option that is easiest to use. Think about your company values and how you want to be perceived. You might want to position your company as he environmentally friendly option. You might want to position yourself as small and agile as compared to big and dependable. Do your solutions solve one specific problem well, or does it do many things with one solution?
The clearer you are about your positioning in the marketplace, the easier it will be for your ideal customers to recognize you. It will also be more effective when your salespeople talk about your product and your company to your ideal customer.
Ideal Customer Profile
Your ideal customer is a subset of your target market. They are companies that meet the demographic criteria of your target market and have additional qualities that make them ideal for you. Those additional qualities may have to do with something we call psychographics. Those are things that are not measurable, like revenue and the number of employees would be. They are things like how they treat vendors and employees. How much turnover do they have, and how do they talk about people? It might have to do with how they get their financing. It might be about values.
Here is the thing about your ideal customer that matters. When you can identify and sell to your ideal customer, the sales cycle tends to be shorter, close ratios are higher, per purchase price are higher, relationships last longer, the customer is happier and more profitable.
When you sell to customers that are not your ideal, the opposite is true. Focus sales and marketing on your ideal customer for all the reasons stated above. Since that makes the most sense, direct your message to your ideal customer.
Just to clarify, in a B2B selling environment, a customer is a company or division of a company. Often, there are multiple buyers involved in the decision to buy. Some will be easier to work with than others, but you need to work with all of the buyers who are part of that buying decision. The customer is the company, and the buyers are the individuals.
Focus your messaging on the buyers involved in the buying decisions for your ideal customers.
A value proposition is a way to communicate your proposed value to your customer (all of the buyers). It is the answer to these three questions.
1. How does your customer describe their problem?
2. How do you solve that problem?
3. Why is your solution the best one for your ideal customer?
Use the language your customer uses. If you use your vocabulary, they can't relate when you are talking to them. You "miss the mark" with them. Understand how they talk about their problem and start talking about it using the same words.
Focus on how you solve the problem (or help them achieve a goal). Your product itself is the least important part of this discussion until the buyer starts asking about the product's details. To start, they only care that they have a problem, and you can solve it in a way that makes sense in their situation.
The final part of this is the "why you are the best solution" part. To be clear, you are not the best solution for everyone. You are the best solution for the specific problem your product was designed to solve in the environment your product was intended to work in. Once a customer falls outside of those parameters, their likelihood of success with your product diminishes. So, you want to be sure that your language speaks to those customers who are most likely to be successful with your solution.
If you have a very complex sale with multiple buyers with distinctly different jobs and perspectives on the problem, you may consider writing a value proposition for each buyer type.
Remember, you are proposing what you think your value is. As you get to know each buyer, you will have a better understanding of what is important to them, and you will shift your language to speak more specifically to each person.
Position your company to achieve the growth you want by providing your sales team the tools they need to communicate with the right customer. If they are selling to the wrong customers, it may be because you are positioned to attract the wrong customers. It might also be because your sellers aren't clear about who the right customer is. It might also be because you are pushing them to sell to anyone instead of focusing on the business you want. Position your company for the business you want. If you do that, you will have shorter sales cycles, higher close ratios, higher per dollar sales, more repeat business, longer relationships, and more profitable customers.
If you need some help with positioning, schedule some time with a Sales Strategist who can get you started.