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 digitalise your market research in 2020-2021?

The company Up Biz – Commercial Agitated Pack gives you commercial training on how to digitalise your market research in 2020-2021.

In this webinar, they  talk about :

  • What is market research?
  • What’s the meaning of it?
  • Which tools can you use?

Although door-to-door selling still works, depending on what you do, what you sell, and who you are visiting. However, in times of the corona crisis, digital market research has the upper-hand.

1- DIGITAL MARKET RESEARCH

When we talk about digital market research, we mean :

Digital market research: Inbound and Outbound Marketing

a) INBOUND MARKETING (ENTRANT)

Digital Marketing, also called Inbound Marketing (in French: prospection entrante).

Inbound marketing is how your leads (French : prospects) know you and how you draw them to you to get contact opportunities.

The basis for marketing is your website, which you will connect to Google. Google is the motorway, where everyone researches information. Your website must be well indexed on Google to allow good visibility but also be connected to the existing social networks (eg LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

In Marketing, we use 3 foundations :

  • SEO : Search Engine Optimisation (in French: référencement naturel). This is how you will write relevant web content to be ranked on Google when someone is looking for your company.
  • SEA : Search Engine Ads (in Frenc: référencement payant). It refers to Google ads on the Internet. When people will look for you, you will be in the first results shown called “ad”. This allows you to be visible.

Both SEO and SEA are important. Be careful, however, one takes longer to get results than the other one. SEO takes between 6 and 12 months to be effective by following a real content strategy.

SEA is much quicker. In general, you pay Google and you are visible within the next following days. So, it allows you to generate quickly website traffic and convert this traffic into leads.

Both are complementary. SEO is a long-term time investment but doesn’t cost anything, whereas SEA works in the short-term since once you stop paying Google, it’s finished for you. It is recommended to mix both.

  • SMO : Social Media Optimisation –(in French : Optimisation des Réseaux Sociaux) allows you to create a community to get your website known what you sell (products or services), in order to generate traffic to your website, convert it into leads or even customers.

Contrarily to what some digital agencies will tell you, the Inbound marketing isn’t a one-solution-fits-all-situations. Outbound marketing (in French : prospection sortante) is still necessary. You will have to market research hard. Outbound marketing still has a big weight.

B) OUTBOUND MARKETING (SORTANT)

When one talks about outbound marketing (in French: prospection sortante), they mean contacting leads either by phone or by email. Although these are more traditional/classic market research techniques, if you do not carry them out, you will cut yourself out of a big market research part. Outbound marketing allows you to connect straight away what you sell to your target market. Furthermore, it’s not because it’s a traditional market research technique, that you will do it the old-fashioned way. Today, we use many digital products to create qualitative research. It is on this that I’m going to delve into and introduce you to different digital products I use.

Note as well that in 2019, 80% of companies in France achieved more than 80 % of their turnover thanks to outbound marketing.

2- GOAL: CREATION OF QUALITY DATABASE

You must create a good database that stands up.

Digital market research: Sales Navigator and Phantom Buster

You can do in-depth research on your ideal client profiles with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Sales Navigator is a paying tool but it does better-targeted research than LinkedIn premium. LinkedIn Premium doesn’t allow a huge amount of data scraping. You can use filters such as :

  • Job position
  • Job field
  • Years of experience
  • Turnover
  • Workforce
  • Comments/Post shares…

You can also scrape data from LinkedIn and automate this process through Phantom Buster.

Phantom Buster will pretend to be You with your LinkedIn profile. To do this, you will need to copy and paste the link to your Sales Navigator/LinkedIn research. It will scrape data from each lead profile and convert it into an Excel spreadsheet table.

Digital market research: Phantom Buster tool case example

Then, you can also use other tools to find the phone numbers and email addresses of your leads. There are many options. Zoho is a free tool, but the downside is that it’s not interacting with any other tools.

Digital market research: Dropcontact and Hunter

Other tools they recommend you use:

  • Dropcontact
  • Hunter.

These tools allow you to find the information you require and qualify your prospects while respecting the current General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There is also ProspectIn, but you can’t export the data. Everything is integrated into the tool.

Anyway, what you need to remember is that these tools allow you to sort out market research information.

3- DATABASE CONSOLIDATION AND PROCESSING

Once you have this data, you will need to populate it in a tool, that will allow you to capitalise on the information you just gathered.

The unavoidable tool to do that is the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Without a CRM, a salesperson is nothing today! The CRM will allow you to keep in touch with your clients and keep track of all actions done or required. In other terms, it will allow you to follow-up with your leads or clients.

Digital market research: HubSpot and Pipedrive

You have several options for CRM software like:

  • HubSpot (free of charge)
  • Pipedrive (€12 per month).

In your CRM tool, you can add tasks such as dates for follow-up calls. You can also add details on the follow-up call results such as:

  • Not interested in – do not call back.
  • Follow-up call in X days…

If a lead answers you that they are not interested in, you can just answer; ‘I take into account…I am available…’. Most importantly, do not re-contact someone who replied they didn’t want to hear back from you.

You can also use Buffer to schedule your social media post, which will also allow you to do a follow-up.

Email campaign: Lemlist

Afraid of cold calling? And why not start by cold emailing? Before start sending any emails, of course, do your research to find out the best approach to use to tailor your emails to your leads. For your research, you need to answer questions such as :

  • What are the issues your leads are facing?
  • Why?
  • Is it relevant to exchange on the topic? (it is also a question you can ask your lead)
  • What do they post, talk about?

For cold emailing, they recommend you to use Lemlist, in order to create campaigns.

Lemlist will tell you the success of your campaign by giving you data like :

  • Open rate
  • Answers
  • Clicks
  • Bouncebacks…

Lemlist tool case example

You can also add your email pictures.

Before starting reaching out, make sure to find out what problems your target market is facing, in order to customise better your campaign. Then, schedule on a monthly basis follow-up calls with a targeted lead list. If there are customers that aren’t online in your target market, you can connect with them through business networks and associations.

Finally, they recommend you to dedicate 1 to 2 hours to market research every day and count roughly €100-160 per month for all comprehensive market research tools, as these will replace a good few of your car trips to visit customers.

If you wish to get in touch with the UP BIZ, you can contact David Julien by email at david.julien@upbiz.fr. He is based in Rouen, Normandy in France.

Business Tips on how to use Video and Networking

I listened to two business tips’ presentations at the Local Enterprise Dublin City Women in Business Network on:

  • ‘How to use Video in Digital Marketing’ with Niamh Guckian from Go Motion Academy
  • ‘How to network’ with Melissa Curley from Social Bee

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

FirSt OF ALL, Let me start with Niamh Guckian’s presentation about developing a video strategy that works.

1. Videos create engagement

When doing an email campaign, research shows that an email with a video has a 96% increase in Click-Through Rate. Furthermore, videos up to 2 minutes get the most engagement. Additionally, 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others.

2. Other considerations to think about with video marketing

However, when you plan your video marketing campaign, you must remember to start in the funnel by following the customer journey. Next, you need to drill down with video content and think about which type of video content would suit your business most. Do not ever do videos for the sake of it!

3. The customer journey

Indeed, when doing video marketing, take into consideration the different stages of the customer journey:

  • Awareness – your product/service is unknown to your targeted audience
  • Consideration – your audience has found your product/service
  • Conversion – your audience is ready to buy your product/service. It’s the sale stage
  • Retention – your audience is ready/open to come back and buy your product/service again.

4. Who is your audience?

This is the key question you need to ask yourself.

  • Where are your potential customers?

Insider Business Tips: Statistics show that 88% of Business-to-Business (B2B) videos are viewed on a desktop. Consider as well if Social Media would a good platform for your video. Note that YouTube is very competitive.

  • What do they want?
  • And you, what do you want from them?
  • What are the others doing in the business?
  • Do you need a disposable content (punctual events) or an evergreen content (tutorials/explainers)?
  • Is your content relatable (not over-emotional)?
  • What is the story (curve)?
  • Is your content useful/educational?

5. Choose a video genre

Once you have identified your audience and what content to go for, choose a genre:

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

  • Ask Me Anything – responding to questions, providing an engaging expertise
  • Vlog
  • Video tour
  • Event highlights
  • Review
  • Tutorial
  • Explainer
  • Demo
  • Interview
  • Live Streaming

At the end of your video, remember to add a strong Call-to-Action by asking your audience to do something. Your call-to-action must be specific (not just ‘subscribe’) and get people talking/guessing.

6. Video genre and the customer journey

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking
Incontestably, each video genre corresponds to a specific stage in the customer journey.

  • Awareness stage: A video tour or a vlog
  • Consideration stage: Ask Me Anything, demo or explainer video
  • Conversion stage: Event highlights or tutorial video
  • Retention stage: Review, interview or live streaming video.

7. Video marketing campaign CALENDAR

In that regard, you need to know if your video will be episodic (occasional events) or if you want to stay in your audience’s mind (evergreen content).

Consequently, if you want your audience to follow you through, you will need to create between 6 and 12 videos. In other terms, you must remain consistent in your posting and sharing of videos. If you are short with time, you can start your campaign by sharing one video a week.

8. Other BUSINESS tips

Finally, if you are going for an explainer video, you must ensure it is animated and engaging enough. Other genres can be used for a more personal and authentic delivery.

Budgetwise, if you want to hire an agency to do it for you on an episodic basis, forecast a budget between 800 and 2000 Euros for several videos.

Otherwise, you can make your own videos with the following sites:

Then, let’s move on to the second and last presentation of the evening by Melissa Curley about small talk for big gains.

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

1. Why is networking a key marketing tool for business growth and success?

Foremost, we need to be interested in and curious about one another.

Why? What matters about networking?

  • The creation of Like/Trust/Respect
  • The importance of conversation.

In other words, networking allows you to grow your social capital before you ever need them. It’s like a social currency. To be good at it, try to have fun at it!

2. What is a conversation about?

Most importantly, a conversation is a two-way listening and talking. Therefore, you need to focus on listening to understand, not just on saying something. So, to be a good networker, you need to understand emotions and feelings about words.

3. Tips to improve your listening

Undeniably, listening means:

  • Receiving
  • Appreciating
  • Summarising
  • Asking.

4. Preparation for a networking event

Still, if you are introvert and uncomfortable with networking, don’t worry.  Remember this!  Extroverts don’t always make the best networkers, as they aren’t always good at listening and connecting with the others.

Business Tips: before you go to a networking event, ask for the attendees’ list. This way, you can organise, who you want to connect with. This will make you more focused and efficient.

5. 10 pointers to a better conversation

Now, let me share with you a few tips on how to be a better conversationalist.

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

  • Be present
  • Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Go with the flow
  • Have courage
  • Avoid engaging in conversational narcissism
  • Refrain from repeating yourself
  • Don’t get tangled up in small details
  • Listen
  • Be succinct.

6. Networking budget

On the other hand, 50 -60% of your budget should go into your networking. Likewise, concentrate on building mutually beneficial relationships.

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

7. What networking is and isn’t

Thus, it’s good to be aware of behaviours to avoid or adopt when networking.

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

AS A MATTER OF FACT, Networking isn’t:
  • Salesy/Pushy
  • Fake/Insincere
  • About shameless self-promotion
  • Only extroverts are good at it.
CONTRARILY, Networking is ABOUT:
  • Making connections
  • Gaining knowledge
  • Adding value before you extract it.

8. How to create an effective network

IN summary, follow these last business tips:

  • Do research about people’s businesses and follow-up
  • Keep in touch, nurture contacts through social media and face-to-face meetings.

Gaining the edge in business: Tips for using Video and Networking

All in all, did you find this blog post helpful? Do you have further business tips or tricks to share?