How to differentiate yourself successfully from the competition in COVID-21?

The webinar about how to differentiate yourself successfully from the competition. It is hosted by Dominique HANS, Sales Trainer, and Consultant at Perform’ Hans and Managing Partner at Value Selling Associates.

N.B: Avis aux français, les diapositives sont en français, puisque ce webinaire a été créé pour le marché français, mais est valade pour tous types de pays en temps de covid.

Webinar Agenda:

  • Current context
  • What needs to be changed?
  • How: Draw your client’s attention.
  • Create a need for a differentiator.
  • Find out the value of this difference.
  • Differentiate proactively.

Differentiation FAILURES and impacts:

how to differentiate yourself from the competition

Current context:

  • Most markets are saturated:
    • Flooded with a low-priced competition.
    • Competitors look alike.
  •  The purchasing cycle becomes more complicated:
    • Power changes
    • Budget arbitration
    • What is the value?

Current context

The purchasing cycle has very much changed. Now, customers have the power and make their own choices. For budget reasons, companies often decide to internalise their solutions. Consequently, to sell, we need to start off and establish a dialogue around value unlike the example below.

Up to now 71 % of salespeople only talk about their product. This way of selling no longer works.

Old way of selling

What does it mean for sales professionals?

  • Fewer opportunities.
  • Behaviour/Competencies/Expertise.
  • The differentiation must go beyond the product and its abilities.
  • The dialogue around value must be significant and relevant.

Consequences of covid crisis on sales

Different or differentiated:

Different:

It refers to the list of your unique abilities. We mean here by unique abilities, the functionalities, and differentiating elements of the products.

Differentiation:

Successfully link your unique abilities with your potential customers’ issues. In other terms, sell unique abilities that are relevant and valuable to your customers.

Let me give you an example:

If I have a business based in France and only working with customers, trying to sell our international services and expertise will not interest them at all.

Furthermore, it is the salesperson’s role to discover additional problems to resolve, which will create further needs.

Going even further/beyond…:

Widen/Research your customer requests to put forward your unique solution abilities compared to the competition.

how to differentiate yourself from the competition: different or differentiated

How to successfully differentiate yourself from your competitors?

  • Success rests on the knowledge of companies and their business.
  • Our competitive advantage is in the way we sell our products and services, and not based on our product or technical knowledge.
  • Become an expert in problems by asking questions to find a solution for our clients.

How to differentiate yourself successfully from your competitors

The reversed approach:

  • Understand what urges your potential client to listen to you.
  • Switch your dialogue to draw the attention of your conversation partners.
  • Link your solution to your potential client’s problems.
  • Put into practice the differentiation method to all your clients’ messages: introductions, proposals, customised communications. Repeat 2-3 times throughout your negotiation the differentiating points.

How to differentiate yourself from the competition: the reversed approach

5 differentiating sectors:

  • Abilities
  • Reduction of risk/brand
  • General Terms and Conditions
  • Client experience
  • Price.

5 differentiating sectors

Terms and conditions: small and mid-sized companies can allow themselves to be a little more flexible with their terms and conditions.

Customer experience: the stakes are to figure out the client’s priorities and challenges.

Position your differentiation:

1- The client recognises the need: his problems.

2. The client searches for a solution.

3. Discovery of additional problems: reducing the competition.

The salesperson must look for additional problems to create the need.

Position your differentiation

The challenge of value fulfilment:

The customers’ stakes are the centre of this challenge and are composed of:

  • Stakes
  • Problems
  • Solutions
  • Achieved value.

The challenge of value fulfilment

Develop the value for the client:

VB or BV = Business Value

The tangible value is measured by calculating the Return On Investment (ROI) and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), while the intangible value can be achieved with a sound sales pitch.

For example, the price can be determined by measuring the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the trading ability.

VP or PV = Personal Value

Personal value is of an inestimable value. It answers the question: What will I earn from it?

For example, for the customer experience, the salesperson must find out what are the client’s personal values, e.g., self-sufficiency, innovation.

For that, they can ask the client: ‘What is important to you personally?’ The salesperson can also help the customer delve further into their decisions since customers often do not take the time to work on this. The salesperson can ask: ‘How do you perceive this solution?’

Develop the value for the client

However, the absence of differentiation rarely indicates that a product or a service is of bad quality. It generally means that we have not succeeded in discovering what was important for the company and for the client.

In the current context where everything goes fast, the client rarely notices this. That is why it is important to ask them more questions to discover their needs.

Differentiation gaps

How do you differentiate yourself?

  1. Follow-up customer’s needs to put forward your unique abilities compared to the competition.
  2. Develop the value of your differentiators in your potential clients’ and clients’ minds.
  3. Bring concrete answers to your clients’ key stakes by becoming their personal trusted adviser.

How to differentiate yourself

Action Plan TO differentiate yourself from your competitors:

  • Choose an ongoing opportunity:
    • Step 1: Determine where you are different or better than the competing alternative choices.
    • Step 2: Are these differences linked to problems by your client?
    • Step 3: Create specific questions to discover new needs linked to these differentiators.
  • Discover the Personal and Business Values linked to your main differentiators.

Action Plan

Before moving to the conclusion, please find answers to the asked questions:

Question 1: Can you please talk about the case of an invitation to public tender/procurement?

Answer: The invitation to tender/the call for bids is a list of the client’s solutions and problems. You need to answer that list and ask your client what are their priorities.

Question 2: What is the human factor in the differentiation?

Answer: Distance selling implies more importance on the content rather than the human interaction.

Question 3: How can I identify the personal value without appearing intrusive?

Answer: The personal value can only be identified in one-to-one meetings with each decision-maker. One needs to identify all alternatives. For example, for a service, you can consider as important the client’s time, money, and human resources.  Traditionally, you can only ask these questions at the second or third meeting. If the client doesn’t answer, you shouldn’t insist and take time to build the relationship.

Question 4: What can I do when a potential client requests a demonstration before even negotiating?

Answer: We highly recommend you leave the demonstration at the very end of the negotiation process, as it often lacks interactions with clients when doing so. If you do go ahead with a demo, make sure to ask for the client’s feedbacks and initiate the demo with the following questions: Your time is precious. I do not want to waste your time. Can I ask you further questions to present you with the most appropriate information/demonstration?

Finally, ‘clients do not buy what you do, but why you do it.’ Quote by Simon Sinek, ‘Start with why’ author.

Differentiation strategy conclusion

How to make concessions in negotiation during a sales process

How to make concessions in negotiation is a presentation given by Michel Rozenberg, Executive & Strategic Consultant at Progress Consulting Belgium in Brussels.

To handle successfully commercial negotiations, he recommends you to follow from the discovery stage to the sale closure ‘the PCCC Process‘, which stands for:

  • Prepare,
  • Consult,
  • Confront,
  • Concretise.

Let me go through each stage for you.

concessions - The PCCC Process

1. Prepare

You need to prepare your negotiation on 3 levels: technically (product features, the anticipation of questions), mentally (stress, tactics…), and understand the context (what is it about? What are the meeting objectives?).

2. Consult

This is the stage, where you meet people, establish a rapport, and discover facts.

We call it the ‘sales discovery stage’. It is a time when you must arouse interest in teasing your conversation partner.

However, you shouldn’t develop too much. At this point, you need to capture your interlocutor’s attention by asking strategic questions to discover your potential client’s needs. You become a customer advisor during this discovery/commercial diagnostic phase.

You need to ask open questions such as: Why? Where? How? When? How much/many?

You must stick to relevant questions about:

  • Your prospect context
  • The streamlined decision-making processes
  • How are decisions taken
  • Why you are meeting the prospect
  • Why they need to alter their situation
  • What they have tried before that didn’t work out for them
  • How do they see things in the future
  • What they would like to get.

3. Confront

You need to start:

  • Making and exchanging opening offers
  • Making concessions and offer compensations.

This is the ‘trailer’ effect, where you sell the benefits/the final result, by excessively simplifying your products and services. It is a specialised reasoning.

4. Concretise

You make additional offers and concessions until you and your potential client reach an objective. Basically, you sell to your conversation partner the final benefit by going from the generic to the specific. You explain to the conversation partner how your solution in their context compared to the situation you mention, will help them reach their objectives.

Then you either:

  • Find an agreement. This decision-making process will be speeded up according to the behavioural customer profiling (Salesforce and communication team). At this stage, you must secure a commitment and a reminder date.
  • Find an agreement about a disagreement.

At each of these stages, you should make to engage your client, validate each point, build rapport, and sum up their needs. This is a sales collaboration.

Then, he recommends you to follow a process, i.e. concession patterns as shown below, which I’m going to detail further for you.

Concession Patterns

Pattern 1: Define your concessions and foresee room for maneuver

Pattern 2: Make them late, then later and later

You need to know your mandate in the selling process as well as show that you don’t give easily cheap deals, by taking your time to make negotiations, once one has been given. Get people to wait.

Pattern 3: Make them smaller and smaller, increase precision

That means give smaller and smaller concessions. You can do comma figures (e.g 1.5 instead of a round figure).

Pattern 4: If possible, make them on cheap topics

They could be concessions that cost less at the start of the negotiating process. For example, it could be a concession on payment terms, not on the product/service price.

Hint: make a list before the meeting, a list of topics.

Pattern 5: Don’t give more than necessary

For example, you could give a specific discount, not more.

Question of threshold:

  • At the consultation/confrontation stages: identify this threshold by asking questions in order to get the relevant information.
  • Minimum threshold versus maximum threshold. In your career, you may be happy to get a     10 % salary increase but won’t necessarily be happier if you get 20-25 % than if you only got a 10 % threshold.

Pattern 6: Almost always ask for  compensation

  • Make concessions deserved
  • If you are hard to give concessions, they will not try as much to get further concessions.

Pattern 7: Make them conditional and temporary

They shouldn’t be part of your Terms and Conditions. You could strengthen the urgency or scarcity notion, which should be adapted to the client and product. This will motivate the client to conclude the purchase more quickly and require more effort from them.

Pattern 8: Foresee a small last one at the end

This concession should be given very late in the process.

You could grant a very small one (cheap deal) but it will give a big impact. You should only give it if necessary if it will help close the deal/get the signature or find an agreement.

Pattern 9: Don’t disclose your deadlines

If you do disclose them, it will give your potential client power over you that could be used as manipulation.  This will give the conversation partner a competitive advantage and give them excuses to put pressure on you to close the deal. Do as if the end of the quarter isn’t important to you.

Finally, when possible, try to split concessions into several pieces. That will give them the impression they will gain something several times. It will have a bigger impact, even if the end value is the same. Remember, people are still hunters.

 

 

 

 

Tips on how to build the perfect Social Media Strategy

I recently attended a really interesting webinar about how to build the perfect Social Media Strategy.

Although some of the information in this post may not surprise you, you will definitely learn a thing or two!

So, let’s start with the Social Media Strategy agenda points. You can then decide to deep dive into what you feel you lack information about.

 

The first presentation was delivered by Tilo Kmieckowiack from @quintly who talked about:

Social Media Strategy

  • What excellent social posts have in common in terms of length, content type and hashtags
  • How to write the perfect Social Media post.

The second presentation was delivered by Patrick Whatman from @Mention who dived into Social Media Strategy:

  • How to and Why focus on engagement
  • Learn from your competitors
  • Monitor your campaigns.

1. Let me share with you a bit about Tilo’s background

Tilo is the Brand/Product and Communications Manager of Quintly for the German-speaking markets, i.e Germany, Austria and Switzerland. He works from Cologne, Germany.

His daily job is to create a Social Media Campaign analysis and case studies to optimise the company’s social media strategy. One of the perks of being part of this company is access to a big database. Indeed, the Quintly Marketing team analyses over 10 million posts from Facebook and Instagram per month. In this presentation, he shares his findings of how the perfect social media post looks like.

Social Media Strategy

2. So, let’s start with the Facebook Analysis

a) Data Range analysed

  • January 2018
  • 239,327 pages
  • 11,472,559 posts

b) Analysed Dimensions

  • Message length
  • Message type
  • Date
  • Tag Social Media Strategy
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares
  • Interactions
  • Reactions
  • Emojis Social Media Strategy
  • Hashtags #⃣

c) Means of Success: Average Interaction per Post

Results:

  • Users most commonly post links, however, videos and also photos receive much more interactions on average
  • The Post volume is highest during the week but posts on weekends get more interactions
  • Most posts contain either 0 or 30-150 characters. According to the findings, a text of 1-50 characters receives the most interactions
  • A large number of posts does not contain emojis. Nonetheless, moderate emoji usage of 1-8 shows higher interactions
  • Hashtags are seldom used on Facebook, besides posts without hashtags receive more interactions.

Consequently, what does the ‘perfect’ Facebook post looks like? It looks like this:

  • Limits to 50 characters in length
  • Uses emojis moderately
  • Doesn’t use hashtags
  • Is posted at weekends
  • Uses videos and images wisely

⚠ Bear in mind that content quality is important, too! This analysis only covers objective technical factors. Analyse your own performance and compare it to the presented results, in order to optimise your own strategy.

3. Now let’s move on to Instagram Analysis

a) Data Range analysed

  • January 2018
  • 41,389 Instagram profiles
  • 1,019,978 posts.

b) Analysed Dimensions

  • Message length
  • Message type
  • Date
  • Tag
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Interactions
  • Emojis
  • Hashtags

c) Means of Success: Average Interaction per Post

Results:

  • Users post images most often, yet videos get the most interactions
  • Most posts are published during weekdays. However, posts on weekends receive more interactions
  • Most posts contain between 0 and 150 characters, but posts with up to 50 characters get the most interactions
  • Many profiles don’t use emojis, yet posts with 1-3 emojis show most interactions
  • Most posts contain no or few hashtags. Posts with 1-3 hashtags receive most interactions. Note that with Instagram, you can up to 10 hashtags but you need to ensure that they are relevant to the post.

So, what does the ‘perfect’ post on Instagram looks like? It looks like this:

  • Limits to 50 characters in length
  • Uses emojis moderately
  • Reduces hashtags to max 10
  • Is posted mostly at weekends
  • Uses videos and carousel wisely

Additionally, you can also check his presentation with graphs on Quintly’s Website.

All in all, Social Media Analytics can help you benchmark your content performance against our analysis.

The second presentation was delivered by Patrick Whatman from @Mention.

Social Media Strategy

1. Now let’s move on to Patrick’s background

Patrick is from New Zealand and works in Paris, France. He is the Digital Content Marketer of Mention. His presentation focuses on Social Media Strategy around the following topics:

  • Engagement
  • Social Listening 
  • Influencer Marketing
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Data Tracking.

Patrick started off his talk with a fun quiz to make a point about engagement.

2. Do you know the answer to this quiz question?

Q: Who is the most re-tweeted musical artist of all time?

A: BT K-Pop Group with:

  • 252 000+ re-tweets
  • Winner Billboard for ‘Best Social Artist’ in 2017-2018
  • More than 10 million followers
  • Performed at 2017 American Music Awards.

3. EVEN SO, why should you care?

This data proves that social media success is closely linked to engagement.

Mention’s Twitter Report 2018 -Top 5 hashtags (for engagement):

  1. #Love_Yourself
  2. #Jimin
  3. #BTS
  4. #DNA
  5. #THELASTJEDI

Amongst these hashtags, the top 4 are coming from this K-Pop band.

4. YET, how do they do this?

It’s all about engagement. They engage with their fans by:

  • Holding contests. They ask their fans to draw, respond, and tell stories about their faves
  • Rewarding fans for their re-tweets. They send personal ‘Thank you’ messages
  • Creating their own emojis.

Their success lies in the creation of online communities, mainly on Twitter, but also a bit on Instagram and a lot of forums, where fans do all the stuff for them.

5. then, why engagement matters?

It is important to emphasise engagement in your social media campaign because of:

a) The Snowball effect

Indeed, Social Media is all about connections: your followers, their followers…Your message reaches much further if shared with all these connections

b) Platforms reward engagement

Organic Reach is about winning in ‘the feed’. The more likes, shares and comments, the more likely Facebook, Twitter, etc will promote your post for you.

c) Respond early and often to foster a community. This is valid for viral campaigns or simple customer support

  • When a social media user gets in touch, you need to be there to help
  • Build momentum for key posts and campaigns
  • Catch issues before they get out of hand.

d) Social Listening comes in handy

Social Media Strategy

Here are the reasons:

  • You can’t respond to messages you don’t know to exist
  • You may not be able to stay glued to all your social media account at all times
  • Social Listening tools tell you when you (or your keywords) have been mentioned and let you respond directly.

A good Social Listening tool such as Mention saves you time and efforts. It also lets you focus on creating winning campaigns.

6. SINCE SOCIAL MEDIA IS CONSTAnTLY EVOLVING, WOULD YOU CONSIDER a Bot AS PART OF A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY?

In short, the answer is ‘No’ for Social Media and here is why. On Social Media, bots aren’t necessary or advisable. Unless you are a very big brand, you are not going to miss too many things. However, Social Listening will help you not miss all these little things and details.

Still, if you build or use a bot for your website, make sure you set it up with narrow parameters, it can be a good thing. Though, don’t show too obvious automated responses.

7. CONSECUTIVELY, The next step of YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY success is to work with influencers

Social-power users help build the brand by:

  • Expanding your reach (because their customer/fan base is engaged)
  • Increasing buying decisions for your products/services through their audiences thanks to their advice
  • Making you look good! When you hang out with the cool guys, it makes you look cool, too!

8. NOW, How to get started?

  • Find influential users relevant to your business (similar brands/topics within your network). They can be macro-influencers or micro-influencers. This article will help you find cost-free micro-influencers
  • Figure out what you can offer: free product, exposure, money
  • Reach out to influencers and kindly suggest to work together. Many will say ‘no’ but not everyone.

9. AFTER ALL, Why should you care about what your competitors do?

Social Media Strategy

Because a competitive analysis helps you solve your problems, understand and learn from your prospects and customers.

It will allow you to easily find out:

  • What your customers are interested in
  • What content or marketing strategies might be effective
  • Possibly even find new customers this way by interacting with them.

10. BESIDES, How can you track campaigns? And why would you bother?

Simply because you need to evaluate with tracking tools for the success of your campaign.

Indeed, the best campaigns are data-driven:

  • Learn from your last campaign to optimise the next
  • Influential people and outlets talk about you (eg on public holidays when your business may be closed)
  • Find out key events in the campaign that affected your performance
  • Assess the overall response to the campaign based on factual evidence to build engagement (eg top 10 content pieces per month or year).

11. Last but not least, Patrick shares his top tips

  • Use unique and branded hashtags for brand awareness and engagement. Why? Because non-popular branded hashtags are easier to track
  • Watch for sudden changes (spikes and dips) and understand why
  • Identify your most and least effective content
  • Measure key metrics such as volume, reach, countries, languages…

Finally, SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY presentations were wrapped up with Questions and Answers.

Social Media Strategy

Q: Can 15-30 hashtags work?

A: No. You need to concentrate on using relevant hashtags. Bear in mind as well that some hashtags are banned, temporarily or permanently. Let me give you one piece of advice: relevant hashtags in Instagram captions (descriptions). You may add some other hashtags after the description following blank spaces but they may not be as relevant.

Q: Do you think it’s good practice to post the same content on multiple platforms?

A: No. Every platform is different. Cross-posting isn’t recommended. Besides, consider that Twitter has recently changed its rules. They do not allow anymore the same content posted on different Twitter accounts or similar channels. Furthermore, hashtags aren’t been used on Facebook. As for the message length, Twitter restricts messages to 240 characters, which is lower than most other Social Media Networks.

Q: How to better utilise Instagram for stories?

A: Keep an eye on trends and news and be aware of the new features and tools. As discussed previously, stay engaged with informative or funny content. Another important news recently surfaced on Later, the exclusively Instagram scheduling app. They said that the algorithm prioritises people’s different content. Indeed, Instagram can tell and promote brands and people who use all of its features and have varied content (not only the same format or type of content over and over). Thus, they will bring further up your content into the feed. An interesting feature that has been rolled out is Instagram ‘highlights’ on your profile page. You can highlight a particular story to be viewed over and over again without any time limitations.

Q:  What channels do you advise to focus on?

A: That depends on the market(s) you are working for. You need to adjust your strategy to the country/market specifics. For eg, in Germany, there are very few people using Twitter, while there are 30 million users on Facebook.  Twitter is quasi-exclusively used by journalists and politicians. However, journalists can pick up topics to write about, which will be brought to the mass media. So, Twitter shouldn’t be completely written off.