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How To Differentiate Your Product (So Your Never Have to Battle On Price)

Lee Salz is the bestselling author of “Sales Differentiation” and that is exactly what we’re discussing on today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Lee Salz
Sales Management Expert

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Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Lee Salz:

I look at sales differentiation as broken into two parts. Differentiation around what you sell and sales differentiation around how you sell.

 

Will Barron:

Hello Sales Nation I’m Will Barron host of the Salesman Podcast. The world’s most listened to B2B sales show. Where we help you not just take your sales target, but really thrive in sales. If you haven’t already, make sure to click subscribe. Let’s meet today’s guest.

 

Lee Salz:

Hi, I’m Lee Salz, author of Sales Differentiation, helping you win more deals at the prices you want. Visit salesdifferentiation.com to learn more.

 

Will Barron:

In this episode with Lee we’re diving into how you can differentiate so you never have to talk about price. How you can differentiate on products, features all that side of things and how you can differentiate on the value that you give the customer as well. I think we get off to a little bit of a slow start on this one, because I didn’t really understand one of the questions I was asking Lee. But once we get through that, there’s a tonne of value in this episode. It’s well worth listening through to the end. And with that let’s jump right in.

 

Can B2B Salespeople Differentiate Themselves Based on the Products They Sell? · [01:01]

 

Will Barron:

Can salespeople, B2B salespeople, can they differentiate via product features and perhaps even benefits alone and not have to discuss price and not have to go down that rabbit hole. Or are there multiple levels of differentiation that B2B salespeople need to understand and be able to put into practise?

 

“I look at sales differentiation as broken into two parts. Differentiation around what you sell and sales differentiation around how you sell. And so if you can’t communicate your differentiators in a meaningful, compelling way, you might as well not have them because the only conversation you’re going to have is based on price.” – Lee Salz · [01:20] 

 

Lee Salz:

Yeah, so I look at sales differentiation as broken into two parts. Differentiation around what you sell and sales differentiation around how you sell. See, I find so often salespeople and even the executive teams, so passionate around what they sell. They say, “Boy, this is a game changer. It’s so different.”. But they can’t articulate it in a meaningful way so that someone on the other side of the desk is just as passionate as they are about those various attributes. And so if you can’t communicate your differentiators in a meaningful, compelling way, you might as well not have them because the only conversation you’re going to have is price. So, and that’s one of the things I get into quite a bit in the book is being able to communicate. Great, let’s understand what our differentiators are, but let’s also come up with a strategy to differentiate. 

 

Lee Salz:

And in a way that someone on the other side of the desk is going to see what we see. And I’ll give you an example of that. I live in Minnesota and Minnesota’s a rather cold place. I’m sure you’re familiar with that. Lots of snow, lots of cold. And as you and I talked at the opening here, I have two dogs, large dogs that I adopted from a shelter. And from November to March Will, when I send them in the backyard and do their thing, I don’t pick it up. Now most people say, “Oh my gosh, that’s gross.”. Think about the climate I live in. We’re talking about temperatures… Gosh, we get as cold as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit, not even getting into wind chill. And of course we get snow and all this other. So no one is going out and cleaning that up. You just let it build up.

 

Lee Salz:

Well, there’s a service that I’ve really come to appreciate here. Where I contact them, and they come out in that March, April timeframe. And they do what they call a spring cleanup, they pick up all the poop. And I’ve used the same company for a number of years. And this past year I reached out to them just as I always have said, “Hey, let’s schedule it.”. And they didn’t respond right away. And then I got an email from one of their competitors, who would’ve thought dog poop pickup was a competitive business? Got an email from one of their competitors. The price was the same. And they were offering to provide that same service. At least it appeared that way. See, there was one thing that bothered me about that firm that I used. They’d come out, they’d pick up all the poop and they’d leave these giant bags of it on the side of my home.

 

Lee Salz:

And it was my job to then pick it up, put it in the garbage cans and have it discarded. It was the unpleasant part of the experience. But I loved the fact that they picked it up. Saves your back and everything else. Well, this company hired them. They come out and the guy performs a service in the yard and he’s leaving. I said, “What are you doing?” He says, “What do you mean? What am I doing? I’m done.” I said, “But you’re taking the poop with you.”. Says, “Well, that’s what we do.” I said, “Oh my gosh, you take the poop.” It made my week Will. The fact that he was taking that away. So that afternoon I get a call from the owner of this company, customer service call how did we do. And we got into conversation and I said, “Do you compete with this other company?”.

 

Lee Salz:

He says, “Oh yes, yes we do.”. I said, “Do you know what your biggest differentiator is compared to them?”. And he says, “No, I can’t think of anything.”. I said, “You take the poop.”. And he goes, “Oh yeah, I think I knew about that.”. And I said, “Well, you’re missing out on an opportunity when you’re selling your service. So you’re matching that competitor’s price, but you have a meaningful differentiator there that people would pay more for.”. “So what do you mean?”. I said, well, if you think of what everyone’s expectation is for this type of service, we would expect industry standard. Right, this is now an industry. Would be you pick it up and you take it with you. But as you know, from your competitor, they don’t do that. So if I’m looking at your firm and this other one, it looks like the service is the same.

 

Lee Salz:

The price is the same. I don’t care which one’s going to do it. And if they all of a sudden are a nickel cheaper, I’m going to go with them because I don’t know that there’s a meaningful difference. But if when you’re selling this, if you were to ask a question, I call these positioning questions. What is your expectation relative to discarding the waste that we pick up? Most people would say, “Well, I would expect you to take it with you and you handle it.”. But as you’ve just seen, that’s not the case. And so this is a story that helps to bring out the point that we often don’t even look inside and say, what are our differentiators and how do we position them in a meaningful way to neutralise a price conversation. See, he gave me an offer that was the same. I would’ve paid more. If I would’ve known that they discarded it. I would’ve paid more for that service.

 

Will Barron:

Well, couple of things here. First thing I’ve got to say is we’re closing as we record this Lee, Sales Nation listening towards the end of 2019, I’m thinking about pointing some kind of a mock almost humorous awards kind of piece together. And I think that wins the award to most random anecdotes that ties into sales of all time. So I applaud you for that, Lee.

 

Lee Salz:

Thank you [crosstalk [00:07:18]-

 

Will Barron:

But with that being said there’s a couple of things to go into here.

 

Lee Salz:

The theme is being different isn’t it?

 

Whose Responsibility Is It To Identify and Communicate Product or Service Differentiators? · [07:25]

 

Will Barron:

The thing is being different, for sure. That is one way to describe it. But there’s thing… There’s a few things that comes to mind here. And I assume the answer is we need to take responsibility, but I’m going to ask you the question. Whose responsibility is it for this messaging? Is it the marketing team’s responsibility to give it to us? Is it the salesperson’s… Or even this goes into, as you kind of described then goes into business entrepreneurship as well. But is it the marketing team’s responsibility to give it to us? Is it the salesperson’s job to find it out, to perhaps add some insights of their own to this and use that to differentiate as well? Or is it the responsibility of the buyer to know what the hell they want so that we can then serve it to them? Whose responsibility is it to… I guess the first step of differentiation as we talk about communication here.

 

“When a prospect baulks at your price and they don’t see the value, the ownership of that failure and differentiation resides a hundred percent in sales.” – Lee Salz · [08:27] 

 

Lee Salz:

Well, it took you about a minute to ask me that question and I need about 16 hours to respond to it properly. So let me break that into pieces. First of all, when we talk about who has the responsibility of positioning differentiation, I’ll put it another way. When a prospect baulks at your price, and they don’t see the value. The ownership of that failure and differentiation resides a hundred percent in sales. We have failed to demonstrate meaningful value to this individual that correlates with the price that was put on what we’re selling. Now, the responsibility of that, is certainly a company has a responsibility to know what the value is of what they’re selling and to provide tools to the sales people. To position those meaningful differentiators in a way as we talked about before, that someone on the other side of the desk is as passionate as we are about that.

 

Lee Salz:

But when we talk about differentiation I break it into two responsibilities, marketing differentiation and sales differentiation. See when the subject first comes up of differentiation executives, their mind just goes right to marketing. Differentiation? That’s a marketing responsibility. They’re not wrong, but they’re limited in their belief when we just see it in marketing. See marketing differentiation, I define as one directional communication for the masses. It says, “Hey, look at us, we’re here.”. That’s what a website does. That’s what a trade show does. It builds awareness for the brand, builds awareness for the solution that’s out there. But imagine it’s just out there, it’s just big broad capabilities. But sales differentiation is two-way communication with an individual specific buyer. It takes all these capabilities, all this potential and brings it down to a solution for this person sitting in front of me because everyone buys for a different reason. Everyone. So we have to correlate that solution that we have with their specific objectives. And that’s how the tools and sales differentiation help us to do just that.

 

How to Subtly Ask Positioning Questions · [10:35] 

 

Will Barron:

Is there a way to do that without a long prolonged period of discovery questions? Having just reread the Challenger Sale, and I’m sure you’re familiar with it as well. They obviously take a different angle and approach on this. And we’re talking about deal sizes of a hundred grand, a couple of million, which is my background in medical device sales. So we’re talking from that perspective of perhaps people don’t want to sit with you for half an hour as you go through discovery questions. Is there a way to, I guess even hypothesise what the value is in it for the individual that you [inaudible [00:11:08] opposite. And then come into it with some hypothesis of differentiation. Again, rather than having to ask all these questions. Or is that the seamless and the easiest way to go about all of this.

 

Lee Salz:

So when you talk about discovery questions and particularly in the way you’re laying it out, and I see this so often with sales people, is it feels like you’re on the hot seat. If you’re the prospect, it’s just rapid fire question, question, question, question, question. I’m going to acquire information from you. And then I’m going to tell you what I have to offer. But questions can also be a very effective tool to help someone see meaningful differentiation. Here, I’ll give you an example. So I mentioned before I live in Minnesota. And in most parts of Minnesota, you contract for your own trash removal. So every homeowner, every business contracts with a different company. So in my neighbourhood, for example, Wednesday mornings is a parade of garbage trucks coming down my street, representing all the different companies that provide trash service. And each one seemingly doing the same thing. Pulls up to the home arm, extends out from the truck, lifts up the can dumps the contents into the truck drives away, and you get an invoice at the end of the month.

 

Lee Salz:

Well, one of these company’s CEO reached out to me and said, “Lee, gosh, I believe we have meaningful differences and we shouldn’t have to compete over price to get that service.”. Now I was intrigued because I’m watching this happen. I’m like, “Boy, if there’s something different, I don’t see it.”. And it turns out there was. And one of the things that this company offered was a cleaning service. They have a truck called a [inaudible [00:12:51] truck. And twice a year, this truck follows the garbage truck and cleans your garbage cans. Isn’t that cool? So for the homeowner, the sales people selling to the homeowner, we developed a positioning question to be asked right at the beginning of the sales call. And that positioning question was this, when’s the last time you had garbage cans cleaned? Because we know they never have, unless they did it themselves.

 

“Questioning can be a very, very powerful tool where we take the person off the hot seat, and make it more of something that opens their mind to think about possibilities.” – Lee Salz · [13:34] 

 

Lee Salz:

And right in that moment, the first moment of a conversation we’ve helped somebody think differently about the solutions they have or could have not because of something we’ve said, but rather a question that we’ve asked. So questioning can be a very, very powerful tool. Where let’s take the person off the hot seat, and make it more something that opens their mind to think about possibilities. There’s an interesting dynamic that I find. Sales people it’s been preached to them, there’s this little fad you may have heard about it called the internet. And so we have these educated buyers. You notice I’m putting the little quote symbols up. And I’ve been asking audiences for, I can’t tell you how many years and I’ve travelled the globe. And I always ask the same question, who knows more about the world of potential solutions in your industry, you or the people you sell to? 

 

“If you’re in sales, you have an obligation to help people make an informed buying decision. And so, that gives us the opportunity to shape buyer decision criteria. However, even though someone doesn’t know how to buy your stuff, if you walk into a CEO, a President, VP, whatever executive, business owner and your approach is to lecture them because they don’t know how to buy your stuff, it’s going to be a very short meeting. But if we are armed with questions designed to help someone think differently about the solution they could have, now we’re going to make some progress.” – Lee Salz · [14:54] 

 

Lee Salz:

Will I’ve never had one salesperson, not one say, “Oh, the people I sell to know much more than I do about the world of potential solutions in my industry.”. So we have this, we’re being told that there’s this thing called the internet. And we have very, very educated buyers. But everyone’s in agreement that they still don’t know how to buy what we sell. And so in my mind that gives us in sales, both an opportunity and an obligation. The obligation is I believe if you’re in sales, you have an obligation to help people make an informed buying decision. However, that gives us the opportunity to shape buyer decision criteria. Because even though someone doesn’t know how to buy your stuff, you walk into a CEO, a President, VP, whatever executive business owner and your approach is to lecture them because they don’t know how to buy your stuff. It’s going to be a very short meeting. But if we are armed with questions designed to help someone think differently about the solution they have or could have now we’re going to make some progress.

 

The Process of Asking Positioning Questions · [15:36] 

 

Will Barron:

What would be an example Lee, of a positioning question for a B2B buyer doing a kind of larger deal sizes? Obviously any industry in space, but in the kind of B2B world.

 

Lee Salz:

Well, it’s not a blind question. So what we would do is, and the book walks you through the sequence of this. But there’s a process when you’re looking at what you sell, to identify strategy to position those differentiators in a meaningful way. So the first thing is you have to ask yourself, why does this even matter to a buyer? For example, you may say, “Well, we have all of these awards. We have a patent.”. And those are great that you have them. But in that first step, the question is, why does this matter to a buyer?

 

“The first question is, why does this matter to a buyer? And if you can’t answer that question, it’s a differentiator that you don’t want to waste time positioning.” – Lee Salz · [16:19]

 

Lee Salz:

And if you can’t answer that question, it’s a differentiator that you don’t want to waste time positioning. Because those moments, those very precious moments, with a buyer you can only ask so many questions. You can only share so much information before it’s done over. So you only want to talk about the ones that are going to be meaningful to them. So that’s the first step. The second one is to identify which buyers are going to care about that differentiator. Let’s say, for example, we sell copiers. And today is a very exciting day for us Will do you know why?

 

Will Barron:

I have no idea.

 

Lee Salz:

Our R and D team has a major announcement. We have the first copier on the planet that can print 50 shades of grey, the first one ever. And tomorrow morning, we have a meeting with the CFO to talk about this new copier. How many of us would be talking about the 50 shades of grey with the CFO? Gosh, I hope none of us for so many reasons. Most importantly, that CFOs don’t care about colours, shades, and hues. What do they care about? Financial impact. In the afternoon, you have a meeting with a marketing manager. Talk about this same copier. Well, the marketing manager doesn’t care about financial impact, but does care about colour shades, hues, quality, et cetera. The following day, you have a meeting with an IT manager, to talk about again, this copier. Doesn’t care about financial impact, doesn’t care about colour, shades and hues. But does care about reliability, integration, security. Three completely different meetings. But what we’re selling is the same. 

 

Lee Salz:

See, I tell sales people all the time. One of the worst things you can do is have an elevator pitch. They look at me like I’m nuts. That’s a best practise since the beginning of selling time. What do you mean? It’s a mistake to have an elevator pitch? My issue isn’t with the concept of elevator pitch. It’s the word an in front of it, meaning it’s singular. I’ve just given you an example where the product we’re selling doesn’t change at all, but we’re meeting three totally different people. Completely different interests, and their drive to what they are going to want to buy is going to be different. So we have to align our strategy with that.

 

Lee Salz:

So that’s the second step of this process is figuring out which buyers, and I refer to them in the book as decision influencers, are going to care about that aspect of your business. That differentiator. The next step is to identify when it’s going to be relevant, when it’s going to matter. Because there are circumstances and we’ve all had these experiences where we observe something, or we learn something in our pre-call planning. Or they say something that we say, “Oh my gosh, they’re going to love hearing about this part of our business.”. So we need to identify what the circumstances are. And then based on the responses to those three, to then develop those positioning questions, those open ended questions designed to help someone think differently about the solution they have or could have.

 

The Mystery Behind Open-ended Questions in Sales · [19:48] 

 

Will Barron:

Are they… So you have to clarify this with me. And I think, and I’m dwelling on this point of the question, because I think this is going to be really useful if I can get it right to my own head. But is it not a close ended or a leading question to be, we think we know where they want to go with this. So we’re going to ask them about our differentiation within that space so that we can then lead the conversation that way. Is it an open-ended question or am I getting the wrong end of the stick there, Lee?

 

Lee Salz:

No, it has to be an open ended question because if it’s close ended and they give you the answer you don’t want, meaning no. Conversation’s over, you never get a chance to position that differentiator.

 

Will Barron:

So this is perfect. This is what I was going to lead into now. So these questions aren’t necessarily qualification questions for us. There’s not just one, there’s multiple of them. And we’re trying to sus out the one that’s most applicable. And then we go down that route of the conversation. Is that appropriate to say?

 

“If you’re with me on this premise that we know more than the people that we’re selling to about the world of potential solutions in our industry, then we have this obligation to help them make an informed decision. They don’t know how to do it, they need our help.” – Lee Salz · [21:03] 

 

Lee Salz:

You’re 100% right. So I refer to this question type as a positioning question, and it’s designed to creatively position your differentiator. So rather than lecturing someone, because no one likes to be lectured. I mean even young children, don’t like to be lectured. Rather than lecturing them, we’re opening their mind through questioning and helping them to think differently about the solutions they have or could have. So if you’re with me on this premise that we know more than the people that we’re selling to about the world of potential solutions in our industry. Then we have this obligation, as I mentioned before, to help them make an informed decision. They don’t know how to do it. They need our help. And the technique that we use is positioning questions.

 

Will Barron:

Okay, so that makes total sense for me. And I want to dive into RFPs and all that side of things. It seems like we can gather all this information at the top and start to lead and… Yeah, lead, I don’t think is an unreasonable thing to say. The RFP process, if they are going to kind of go with us at the top of things. So that’s the physical benefits, features of the product, the service. That’s the, what we sell I guess. How we sell it, how does this come into it? How do we differentiate on what I, as an… If my product sucks or if all the products in the industry suck and you’re fighting a losing battle and it’s usually comes down to price. 

 

How to Differentiate Yourself as an Individual, Especially When Most of Your Sales Conversations Come Down to Price · [21:40]

 

Will Barron:

How do I, as an individual, as a B2B salesperson who perhaps goes one step further. But perhaps I am super knowledgeable on the whole vertical. Perhaps I’m a mini celebrity in the industry, I’m social selling, I’m creating content, doing all this stuff that may or may not work depending on how you approach it and probably conversation for another time. But with all that said, how do I then differentiate myself as I’m going to be working with this person hopefully with the long term, especially if it’s a [inaudible [00:22:26] product. If it’s a recurring subscription product, as opposed to their capital outlay, how do I differentiate myself Lee, as opposed to the product itself? 

 

Lee Salz:

Absolutely. And that is the other side of the equation is sales differentiation around how you sell. There are opportunities in every interaction between seller and buyer to provide meaningful value, such that someone would rather buy from you than the competition. Forgetting about what you sell for a moment. And I mean, I’ll give you another favourite question that I love to ask sales people, say who’s your biggest competitor? And they’ll say company A. Just kind of rolls right off their tongue. They’ll say, well, I’m sure they’re, they’re a pretty good competitor, but there’s one that’s even bigger. And then someone in the crowd will say, “Ah, the old sales trainer won status quo the choice to do nothing.”. Well, that’s also a formidable one, but there’s one that’s even bigger. And I’ve never had anyone, not one person identify this competitor. Do you know who that is Will?

 

Will Barron:

I’ve no idea Lee. Go on, blow some minds.

 

Lee Salz:

It’s every salesperson, pulling the same person you are trying to get a meeting. There is no one in the history of business who’s had the job of meet with a salesperson every hour on the hour. No one’s ever had that job. Everybody we’re calling on today has if not one job, multiple jobs wearing a lot of hats. So they’re getting calls for everything within their purview, sales people trying to sell their wares. So we think egotistically that it’s only about us. So we’re competing against company A, company B, company C, and we’re trying to knock them out.

 

“Sales is much more fierce, much more competitive than we really give it credit for. It’s not just what the other providers in your space can offer, but if you can’t get in the door because 50, 100 sales people a month are calling that same person you are. Then no meeting, no proposal; no proposal, no deal..” – Lee Salz · [24:51] 

 

Lee Salz:

Well to first get in the door, we’ve got to differentiate ourselves in how we sell. And have an approach that’s different than all these other sales people trying to get a meeting. Because when you look at the purview, particularly you go higher in the org chart, bigger responsibility, which means more sales people are calling that individual. So give thought to what you’re going to do differently in your approach so that you get the meeting rather than one of those other sales people. So sales is much more fierce, much more competitive than we really give it credit for. It’s not just what the other providers in your space can offer, but if you can’t get in the door because 50, 100 sales people a month are calling that same person you are. Then no meeting no proposal, no proposal no deal. Nothing to put on the forecast and no meal to put on the table.

 

How to Handle the Internal Competition Within an Account · [25:15]

 

Will Barron:

And this is internal. And an example for me, most vendors now have a podcast. So I still sell the advertising podcast or the advertising on the podcast. It’s fortunate now that the audience is so big that I get a tonne of inbound leads and brands that do want to work with me, which I call the low hanging fruits. And I spend most of my time engaging with those individuals. But when I do do cold outreach or the occasional cold call, but basically cold emails and LinkedIn connections and things like that. A lot of the time I get pushed back of well, why would you spend money with you when we’re already doing this internally? So it’s not just your competition. It’s everyone, all the stakeholders that these individuals are dealing with.

 

Lee Salz:

That’s true. That’s true. And who are you calling for example, to get advertisers? A marketing manager, or-

 

Will Barron:

It depends on company size. If it’s a smaller company, a tech startup, it’d be the CEO I can typically get in front of them pretty easily. Otherwise, bigger companies it’d be a VP director of marketing. So along those lines.

 

Lee Salz:

Okay. So let’s take a VP of marketing. You’re calling them and… The question they’re saying about internal. Another question that they might ask is, well why this show versus another show. But again, we’re still being too egocentric. Think of everything that falls under that marketing umbrella. They’re getting calls from trade show salespeople, ones to make the booth, ones to create the strategy. And then of course the conferences that come in there and on and on and on. We can outsource your proposal writing. So you’re competing against all these other people for face time. And I don’t mean the Apple technology. I mean the ability to have a meeting with someone about what you have to offer.

 

How to Influence the Analytical as Well as the Emotional Elements of a Buying Process · [26:55] 

 

Will Barron:

Lee, something that I’ve never quite sussed out. I don’t know if there’s an answer to this question. So I’m intrigued to hear your thoughts on it. When we start to even document some of this value, whether it’s on an email, whether it’s we’ll touch on RFPs in second, whether it’s a couple of things on the RFP that we can do that other people can’t. And then we get higher up the food chain as you alluded to earlier, people are more concerned about the financials perhaps than the user experience or anything like that. How do we start to put a financial number, perhaps on some of this? What we… I’m doing a quote say for everyone listening, but for value. Because we talk about value all the time, but a lot of it’s in the eye of the beholder.

 

Will Barron:

A lot of it’s perceived. How do we start to leverage it on a profit and loss account of the deal itself? How do we say, well, we’re going to do all this and this and this. And the buyer turns around goes, well, yeah but you’re 15% more expensive. Obviously they perceived the value less than what it is on paper. Is there a way to position all of this that we can say yes, but this, this, this and this. And so the numbers make sense as well. I guess I want to ask you, how do we sell the analytical side of it as well as the emotional value side of things?

 

“If we’re waiting for price to become an issue, and then saying now let me explain why we’re 15% more, we’ve already lost. When it comes to sales differentiation, you can’t be too early, but you can be too late. And waiting for the price issue to come up and try to justify it, forget it you’re you’re done.” – Lee Salz · [28:01] 

 

Lee Salz:

Yeah. So if we’re waiting for price to become an issue, and then saying now let me explain why we’re 15% more. We’ve already lost. When it comes to sales differentiation, you can’t be too early, but you can be too late. And waiting for the price issue to come up and try to justify it, forget it you’re you’re done. But I want to come back to something mentioned it here and you mentioned a few minutes ago. This whole idea of the RFP. If there was any logic to the English language, RFP would actually be four letters, not three. But nevertheless, sales people when they hear RFP-

 

What is an RFP? · [28:40]

 

Will Barron:

I guess… Sorry to interrupt. Just gives us a two liners on what an RFP is in case someone hasn’t come across them so far.

 

Lee Salz:

Sure. RFP stands for request for proposal. And it’s when a company is going to go through a formal buying process, usually run by procurement. And the idea is they’re trying, they’re really trying in this case, to make an informed buying decision. And so they’re going to do it in a formal way. Of course their objective is to get the right solution at the cheapest price. But quite frankly, wouldn’t all of us. As consumers, we want the same thing. Why do we want to spend money unnecessarily? So that’s what they seek to do. And when sales people hear that there’s going to be an RFP process, they usually fold up their tent and say, okay, well just send it to me and we’ll fill it out and we’ll see what happens. But I believe that there’s opportunities to be different, even in an RFP process. Giving an example, let’s say you’re calling on a potential advertiser and they say to you, “Yeah, well, we’re going to go through an RFP process and decide which podcast we’re going to select.” 

 

Will Barron:

I’ll… Sorry Lee. I’m interrupting again. I’ll give you a better example. So my background’s medical device sales selling to the NHS here in the UK. After a certain deal size, I think it’s about 90 grand had to go to our equivalent of an RFP over here. So that’d be more better contextually for the audience. So anything from [crosstalk [00:30:08]-

 

Lee Salz:

We’ll use medical device.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah.

 

Lee Salz:

Yes. So this medical device is going to go out for bid in a request for proposal RFP process. And most sales people would say, just send me the document when it comes out. But if we come back to what we talked about before, the people we sell to don’t know how to buy our stuff. So what if rather than just fold up our tent and walk away? What if we said, have you written the RFP yet? And they say, no, we haven’t because that’s usually the case. And what if we then responded, say we have an RFP template that we’ve written that our clients find really helpful. It helps you to capture all the important information so that you can make an informed decision. And with the only ones offering that. So we’re differentiating ourselves in how we sell, we’re demonstrating expertise, we’re being helpful. We’re showing that we respect the process and we care.

 

Lee Salz:

We give them this document and it should be designed cosmetically so that you can just send them the document. And you’ll find some will take that document at face value, send it out. It saves them time, makes their life easier. Some will pull questions from it and send out their own. And some won’t use it at all. You still get the benefits of differentiation in how you sell, whether they use it or not. Because of all the reasons we talked about, we demonstrated expertise, we’ve shown respect for the process and we are showing them that we’re trying to help them make an informed buying decision. And coming back to the other part of our conversation, we absolutely include our positioning questions in this document. How often do you clean garbage cans for example, and of course the other companies would respond saying we don’t offer that service and we’d be the only ones to respond and say, we do that twice a year.

 

Will Barron:

There’ll be some people listen to this Lee going, is it that simple to win business by doing this? And I know from my perspective, if I tried to give a procurement officer here in the UK and the NHS, a list of, of questions… If I tried to help them in any way with this process, I’d be smacked on the back of the head and told to get lost out of the room. But we would do this process via the surgeons. So we’d be doing demonstrations with the surgeons and saying, Hey, do you need this, this, this, and this. Only we offer 1, 2, 3. One of the things that we did in the last campaign I worked for, for the longest time was I think it was a faster refresh rate in endoscopic sales.

 

Will Barron:

The whole imaging system. It was a faster refresh rate on the screen. And it just… Whether it really did it or not, I don’t know. I don’t think there’s any clinical studies. But it reduces motion sickness as you are stood still whilst moving around within the patient itself. And it’s just a nicer on your eyes over kind of a 10 hour procedure to see that faster refresh rate. Anyone who’s used I think it’s the new iPad ,has a high refresh rate mode and it makes a massive… It makes more of a difference than you would imagine having not experienced it. So our goal, every time something went up to the tender was to get that on the RFP, via the surgeons. So we wouldn’t go through procurements. They were straight down the line. They were there to do their job.

 

How to Decipher the People You Should be Speaking to Within an Account · [33:40] 

 

Will Barron:

But this is where… As you talked about earlier on in the show Lee, and we can perhaps wrap up with this. We need to speak to other individuals in the account. We need to differentiate ourselves with them individually. Is there a… Not a process, because the answer is obviously it depends. But is there a… How do we know who we should be speaking to within an account? This is just going, I guess into basic B2B sales 101. But how do we know whether we should be going up the food chain to the potential decision maker? Even if we know it’s a buying group that we’re dealing with. And how do we know when we should be going down to the end user? Just to wrap things up here, Lee. How do we understand the account and know where we should be spending time?

 

Lee Salz:

Well, I think most B2B salespeople respond saying all of them. Because they all provide value for us in helping to facilitate the sale. We can learn things from the user experience that helps us further up the food chain. And conversely, we can learn things from further up the food chain that helps us better understand the user and vice versa. And the ones that do that to type of homework are often the ones that are more successful in getting the deal.

 

Lee’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [34:47] 

 

Will Barron:

What would you tell yourself… Nothing to do with sales differentiation, but obviously still to do with sales. What would be something that you feel like you’ve picked up on over the years over than what we’ve discussed today?

 

Lee Salz:

So I would say something that I’ve shared a few times here today, which is had someone and told me when I was first getting into sales, that the people you’re selling to don’t know the world of potential solutions in your industry the way you do. My approach would’ve been much, much different. That was something that I just learned over the years, and every other salesperson… Because again, everyone agrees with me when I asked the question, has learned that. But had someone said that to me early on, I think my entire approach would’ve been different.

 

Parting Thoughts · [35:30] 

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Well with that, we’ve touched on the book, tell us where we can find it, find more about you and then anything else you want to share with us Lee.

 

Lee Salz:

Great. Thank you. You can find Sales Differentiation in most of your bookstores and your favourite online website, Amazon, 1-800-CEO-READ, whatever you’d like. After you buy the book and wherever you buy it, go to salesdifferentiation.com and click on the little bonus flag. Because you’ll be able to fill out a little form and get videos sent to you. The sales differentiation minute videos. And they’ll be sent to you once a week for 20 weeks helping you pull these strategies you read about into practise.

 

Will Barron:

Amazing stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes over at Salesman.org. And with that Lee, [inaudible [00:36:13] show me, I appreciate your time and insights on all this. Clearly you’ve got way deeper into sales differentiation than anyone else we’ve had on the show. So I appreciate that. I mean that one. Thank you for joining us again on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Lee Salz:

Well, this was fun. Thank you.

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