If Your Product is Good, It Will Sell Itself

Business Myth No. 1

A very bad idea!

If you believe the title of this blog post, you are in for a huge disappointment. Which is why I was astonished to see this dangerous idea supported by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in a recent retweet.

According to their website , this “…is the department for economic growth. The department invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business.” Commendable ideals but can we have a reality check, please? Read more ›

So, What About Your Competitors?

Tracking & Watching Competitors

Don’t kid yourself that you don’t have any competitors! Even if you are offering the latest, most whizzy technology, someone else will be trying to meet your prospects needs with what they have. Failing that, you may well be competing against ‘no decision’ as outlined in Bob Apollo’s post from 2009 here. It’s a tough world out there!

Given that you most likely have some traditional competitors, how much do you actually know about them? Read more ›

Science Makes the World Go Round

Scientific Ideas“Children find physics, maths and chemistry ‘too difficult'” was the alarming headline I recently saw. “Crikey,” I thought, channelling my inner Penfold, “that’s bad news for future British innovations.”

Then I started looking a little more deeply into the story. It turns out that that the survey which produced this startling quote was of the parents of  5 – 18 year olds! So, at best, we have the second-hand opinions of the generation that sometimes finds it ‘too difficult’ to get out of bed. Not a promising start. Read more ›

Riding the Product Lifecycle

Standard Product Lifecycle CurveDid you know that the majority of products have a lifecycle? That graph over on the left illustrates how sales volume varies during the various phases.

What you may not appreciate is that sales and marketing requirements differ depending on where your products are within their lifecycle. Read more ›

(Spec.) War, Huh, What is it Good For?

It's a spec war out there!How do you cope with ‘spec wars’? You know the sort of thing I mean – on paper, your system measures to +/- 5 mm, your competitor’s equivalent measures to +/- 3 mm.

Sure, it looks like there is a real difference but when you consider the accuracy of measurement is on something 40 m long, it starts to look a little less significant. (We’re talking about measurements that are accurate to +/-99.9875% and +/-99.9925% here.)

The glib answer is that if you are getting involved in spec. wars, you haven’t done a good enough job earlier in the sales process.

As glib answers aren’t that helpful in the real world, let’s try a different approach. Read more ›

How NOT to do Sales, Part 1

No Family PhotosHow often do  you get the chance to benchmark yourself against another salesperson selling to one of your prospective customers?

In the late 1990’s I visited the University of Cincinnati for a couple of days to demonstrate some equipment to one of the scientists there.

Apart from not winning the order, the abiding memory of the trip was a lesson in ‘how not to do sales’. Read more ›


TombstoneIs it time to bring down the curtain on the USP?

I tend to shy away from those discussions titled “Is XYZ dead?”, my particular least-favourite being ‘Is cold calling dead?” However, I’m prepared to make an exception in this case.

The Unique Selling Proposition, or Unique Selling Point is a marketing concept first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern in successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s.

Business Dictionary defines it as:

Real or perceived benefit of a good or service that differentiates it from the competing brands and gives its buyer a logical reason to prefer it over other brands. USP is often a critical component of a promotional theme around which an advertising campaign is built.

In his 1961 book titled Reality in Advertising (sadly no longer in print), Rosser Reeves identifies three requirements of a USP:

  1. Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer. Each advertisement must say to the reader: “Buy this product, and you will get this specific benefit.”
  2. The proposition must be one that the competition either cannot, or does not, offer. It must be unique—either a uniqueness of brand or a claim not otherwise made in that particular field.
  3. The proposition must be so strong that it can move the mass millions, i.e., pull over new customers to your product.

Straight away, we begin to see the issues – the USP concept is designed for mass market advertising, not low volume, specialised B2B transactions. Read more ›

Are You Talking to Me?

Guard dog (medium)¿Me hablas a mí? Kijk je naar mij? A ydych yn siarad â mi?

What do you mean, you don’t know what I’m saying? Why not? Ah, is it because I’m not speaking in a language you understand?

A good friend of mine works for one of the UK’s electricity distribution companies. She has a senior role within the company so can often been found in the office ‘after hours’. Let’s call her Amy for the sake of this post.

As you might imagine, the company takes security very seriously so they have a guard patrolling the premises, along with his dog. The dog often gets shut into Amy’s office with her whilst the guard patrols other parts of the site “just for company”.

At least, that was the case with the previous dog.  Read more ›

Is Selling in Crisis?

Towelday-Innsbruck…or is it just me?

There is a well-understood phenomenon in population dynamics whereby a “natural population increase” occurs when the birth rate is higher than the death rate.

Around the world, death rates gradually decreased in the late 19th and the 20th centuries, with death rates in developing countries plummeting after World War II thanks to the spread of modern medicine that allowed control of infectious diseases.

In much of the developing world the decline in death rates preceded the decline in birth rates by 20 years or more, resulting in record-high rates of population growth of 3 percent or even 4 percent a year. (More info on the World Bank site here if you are particularly interested.)

At the moment, it feels like there is a similar sort of lag between the worlds of buying and selling. Read more ›

Core Values or Value Proposition?

Value Prop

Much to my surprise, I recently disagreed with the excellent Babette Ten Haken.  The question she posed was “Are you a Value Proposition Chameleon?

What’s your immediate response to that question?

Mine was to say (to myself!) “Why yes, Babette, I am.  My value proposition will change from customer to customer, in line with what they perceive to be of value.”

As the saying goes, ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’.  I want to be sure I’m feeding the right thing to my prospective customer! Read more ›