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Why don’t our prospects buy from us?

This is the oldest question in sales and marketing, in all its forms.

  • Why aren’t people buying?
  • Why isn’t the cash register ringing?
  • Why aren’t window shoppers walking into the store?

We answer all these questions with two variables: outcome and value.

Outcome

Far too many marketers focus on the product/service instead of the outcome it provides. Some product marketers will advise that we talk about benefits rather than features, but even benefits are transitive.

For example, take a simple t-shirt. Features might include a certain appearance; the benefit might be that we look more stylish or trendy. This benefit is a transitive property. The real outcome is that we feel better about ourselves. Self-esteem is the outcome, not style.

Marketers tend not to follow a benefit’s outcome to its logical conclusion, or worse, simply rewrite features as supposed benefits. B2B marketers are especially guilty of the latter. At the end of the day, most B2B products should have the same general outcomes:

  • Save us time
  • Save us money
  • Make us more money
  • Improve our quality of work life

While it’s difficult to differentiate our product when the outcome is the same, it’s the outcome people buy. If we cannot clearly articulate what outcome they are buying, they won’t buy. They’ll buy from the competitor who has the more flavorful gum, the watch that makes their ego feel better, the ad platform that delivers more traffic. They’ll buy from the vendor whose outcome is most clear.

Value

The second place we marketers fail is demonstrating the value we provide. How much of the outcome – time, money, quality of life – can we produce?

When we are marketing a product or service, we have to demonstrate how much of an outcome we produce, and why the outcome we produce is better than our competition. This is where we differentiate ourselves – not on the outcomes, which are largely the same, but on how well we produce the outcomes our customers are buying.

As a B2C example, a shirt or handbag that produces increased self-esteem is partially due to design and partially due to brand. A Michael Kors purse creates more of the desired outcome for some people than a Steve Madden purse. A Tesla creates more of the desired outcome of style for some people than a Mercedes.

On the B2B side, our outcomes are comparative. This is the true meaning of return on investment, of ROI. ROI is a mathematical equation: (earned – spent) / spent. Instead of computing it in a vacuum, ROI is most useful when we use it to compare. How much more ROI did campaign X generate than campaign Y? How much more time did we save for the time we spent? How much more money did we make for what we spent?

Demonstrate the Value of Your Outcome

If you want to sell more, demonstrate the value of your outcome and why the outcome you produce is greater value than what your competitors produce. You don’t have to be the cheapest if the value of your outcome isn’t cost savings. You don’t have to be the fanciest or the sexiest or the most trustworthy unless those are the values you provide.

Here’s a simple test: state the outcome and value your product/service produces in a single tweet.

If you can do this easily, your marketing has focus.

For example:

Learn a practical innovation framework that boosts profits, retains customers longer, and makes work more enjoyable in Leading Innovation.

If you struggle to fit it in 140 characters, or can’t do it at all, then start by defining outcomes and then the value of those outcomes. Write them down in that literal order: here are the outcomes we produce. Here is the value of the outcome to our customer.

Once you distill down your outcomes and their values, the rest of your marketing will align – and you’ll produce the value your company asks of you.


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