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Selling a new high-tech product or service is really tough:
In this context a poorly prepared sales strategy will lead to longer and more risky sales cycles:
This while we know that winning new customers is vital because:
in B2B nobody impulse-buys just because of your advertising like in B2C.
In other words the real distinction should be among:
For this reasons the B2B sales funnel is made of 3 steps:
As Americans say, “business follows relationship”, or , better:
“Business follows Relationship … and Relationship follows Surprise”
Building the Relationship is the critical step of the B2B Sales Funnel and this article is about a few hints and a template to make it happen.
B2B is a bit a broad definition. Let’s divide in at least two:
The STD work horizontally across industries, they count Clients in the thousands or even millions. All the providers of STD can benefit of a B2B promotion. they know it and they are happy to find an agency that can support their sales. But:
The ETO work vertically, tackling a verys specific segment need, they counts Clients in the dozens - sometime even the dozen. In this case a B2B promotion may sounds dispersive, and even if theoretically appealing, the Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) could be not justificable. There are cases, however, where I witnessed the need to take this route:
Said that, you may then want to go a step further and choose the best B2B sales funnel for your target decision makers. The best one depends by the type of solution you are proposing.
If you moved to a new town as a kid, you know the importance of finding new friends to enter your new community.
It is the same in business: "Business is Relationship", and to start a relationship you must pass through a peer.
To reach your prospects you have to pass through a Peer, if you want to scale up fast your market entry.
A Peer is the channel, the medium through which you deliver yourself. It should be a Peer of your Prospect, not your Peer. Someone who is somehow already accredited by your prospect. It’s should be “disinterested” and even better: willing to actively introduce you.
Furthermore it should be “industry focused”. Your Clients do not want to waste their time with people that are not tuned, alerted , activated to their business.
The right Peer depends on the industry, but we can set at least a couple of categories:
A surprise is an challenge to customer thinking that highlights an upcoming difference in the status quo.
The rational is that any Prospect wants to know how they stand compared to their industry peers: if they are lagging behind the pack, if they are going to be in a Status quo that will differ from the present one for any reason.
You bring a surprise when you challenge a fundamental customer's assumption, forcing an “un-expected comparison” between before and after status.
A Surprise ( un-expected Comparison) is that aha! moment that associates You to a Customer’s problem.
It’s the moment when you create the Relationship in the Customer Brain.
I have always in mind the reaction of my 2 years old kid when he saw for the first time a balloon going up, instead than falling on the floor when I released it.
Now “balloons” are forever associated with “new” unexpected and fantastic surprise. The fact that I have introduced him to the fantastic world of “balloons”, it’s probably a bonus that I will leverage for some time.
This examples teaches also a further observations:
If the Surprise comes from an “industry expert, it’s even better. People value specialists the most, even if what you say has an horizontal applicability.
If you belong to the industry, you eat like the industry, you breath like the industry, then you can describe the “status quo” with the right key words, the ones that resonate with your Customer’s brain.
There are at least 4 kinds of surprise that make your prospect feel a change in the status quo:
Any kind of issue or problem your prospect’s peers have suffered, are suffering or going to suffer and that most probably your prospect will have to deal with soon.
Un-anticipated market drivers’ changes
Here you can refer to classic Porter’s
Some big surprise comes from comparing the final results with the expected ones.
In general any discordance among imagined / planned / desired results and actual facts capture prospects attention.
A further source of surprise comes again from failing of considering a company as an evolutionary system, instead of a steady system.
A system may fail not because of a part crash, but because the supporting functions are given for granted:
A Surprise signals to your Prospect that “the World has changed” (1)
A Surprise says to your Customer:
If you can play out with the consequences of inaction via a SWOT analysis, you may end inviting your prospect to re-think the alternatives, and fight the costs of inaction, and her resistances to Loss, making do-nothing : not an option
The Surprise tells your prospect that the Old game is no more working:(1)
and to win he must move to the New Game:
And the "core idea" of your business tells your clients why to choose your solution to play the new game. Your Brand should possibly reflect this.
Like "LEGO". A danish word that means "Play well", tells the client that the core idea about their business is making their clients stop playing just to have fun, but also to learn and grow.
(1)Note: this template is the result of collecting and assembling ideas and concepts from several Authors: Al Ries, Neil Rackham, Goeffry Moore, Clayton Christensen, Tony Ulwick, Bob Apollo, Andy Rasking et al.
Now that you have a better sense of what is a surprise and a peer, you can apply this concept taking into consideration:
On the right you see the chart summarizing the type of sales funnel you have to build in each of these cases. You can download it free.