April Dunford: How to Craft a Product Story that Sells

Are you losing deals to competitors with clearly inferior products? Do your sales meetings leave customers excited or confused? Is your marketing closer to a feature list or a set of compelling reasons to buy? 40-60% of sales engagements result in no decision because buyers cannot work out what the alternative is.

In this brand new talk, April builds on her previous BoS talks:
Positioning For Growth – How To Make Complex Products Obviously Awesome
Stop selling your product, start selling point of view.

She will share a framework you can use to build a story that focuses on WHY you built what you built in a way that is differentiating, compelling, and most importantly, gets you business.

While we understand stories are a great way to connect with customers, few companies really take advantage of a good narrative to help them market and sell their products. April will show you how.

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April Dunford
Good morning, everybody. Super good to be here. Today I want to talk about how to craft a product story that sells. And I’m super excited about this talk. But my clicker doesn’t work.

I want to start with a question. Who here thinks that selling is hard? Like hands? Right? It’s hard. I think it’s hard. A lot of us in startups come from the product side of the house. So selling doesn’t come super naturally to us. And that’s too bad, because we have to figure out how to get people to buy our stuff. Otherwise, we don’t get to stay in business. But that’s not what I want to talk about today, I actually want to kind of turn it around a little bit, and look at it a bit from the customer’s perspective. And I’m gonna say something that’s maybe a little bit controversial, but I think buying is hard.

Now, I know what some of you thinking. No, it’s not. No, it ain’t. I wish that was my job. And all I had to do all day was just buy stuff like shopping. That sounds excellent. And, you know, and I get it, because some of the stuff that we buy is actually super fun to buy. Like, I like buying shoes. I like buying a t shirt. I like buying a drink in the bar. That’s fun. That’s easy, no problem. But then there’s all these other things that we buy that really suck. Like, you got to buy insurance. That’s not fun. There’s nothing fun about that, or buying a house super stressful. And if you think about it, things that businesses buy, like everything we buy in a business context, kind of sucks.

A Toilet Story.

So I’m going to tell you the story. It has nothing to do with tech, but like, bear with me on this one; trust me, this comes back around. So this is a story is called ‘April buys a toilet’. So here’s how this works. So I live in Toronto. And I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Toronto, but Toronto is full of kind of old crappy houses that need a lot of work. So I buy one of these houses. And inside my old crappy house is pretty terrible bathroom. So I’m gonna get that fix. So I hire a contractor to come in. He’s gonna fix my bathroom. And so the guy gets there, and he’s working away and he comes to me and he says, Hey, you gotta go pick out a toilet. And I’m like, Okay, I gotta go buy a toilet. I don’t know, I’ve never bought a toilet before. But how hard can it be? So I go to the toilet store and I walk in and the sales rep comes up to me. And they say, Can I help you? And I said, Yeah, you can. I’m here to buy a toilet. And he said, Well, what kind of toilet Do you want? Now I was like, one that flushes? And the guy said, Well look like we a lot of toilets. They’re all over there at the back. So go on to the back, have a look at the toilets. And you know, the prices are there. And it tells you all about the toilet on the little sticker and you figure out which one you want, then you call me I’m gonna sell you the toilet. So okay, so I go to the back. And this is what I see. There’s like 9000 toilets, like there’s literally a million toilets. And they all look exactly the same, except they’re not the same. Like some of them cost a couple 100 bucks, and some of them cost a couple 1000 bucks. And every single one has like a sticker on there with all these features that make no sense to me. They’re like there’s the PF2 whisper vac 5000 I’m like, what is that? Some of them have flappers and some of them don’t have I don’t know what’s a flapper. I don’t know what a flapper is. There’s all these things. I spend like two hours at the toilet store. I’m like completely baffled. I’m like, Ah, and so I started freaking out and I’m like, this is the wrong store. There’s too many choices. So I go to the store two doors down. Same thing. I walk in and the guy walks in, can I help you? I’m like, I need to buy a toilet. And he says, Well, what kind of toilet do you want? I’m like, I don’t know anything about toilets. Buddy. I don’t know why you’re asking me that question. And then he says, Well, do you want one with the flapper? I don’t even know what a flapper is. So I go and I like this. I freak out. And I’m like, I don’t actually know enough to buy a toilet. I’m gonna have to go educate myself on frickin toilets.

So I go on the internet like one does. And it turns out toilets have features. There’s a lot of features and so there’s like water efficiency and seat height who knew and single flush or dual flush technology? There’s all these flappers, and there’s trap ways and things and then I learned the most disgusting thing about toilets. Now I’m gonna teach it to you. So there’s a there’s like a score, there’s this thing, it’s called the M A P score. That stands for maximum performance. And that is the amount of solid waste that a toilet can handle in a flush 350 to 600 grammes is good. But some toilets can handle up to 1000 grammes, there’s 2.2 pounds. It’s like, it’s like a little dog.

So now I know disgusting things about toilets. And I’m trying to think about solid waste. I’m like, no, no, I don’t want to think about any of this. My head is getting filled with toilet technology that I don’t even want to like all want to do. But then I get this genius idea. You know what, maybe I don’t have to buy a toilet. Maybe I just stick with the old toilet. It was fine. It was working for this kind of old but you know, it was flushing fine. And I could just avoid this decision altogether. Like I’m a busy person. I don’t have time for this. So that so that’s it. And then I made up my mind. I’m like, That’s it. I’m not gonna buy one. So how did this go? I spent three weeks I went to showroom twice. I spent like what felt like infinity on the internet. Looking at in how many new toilets did I buy? None. I bought zero new toilets.

Now, I’m not saying that buying your SaaS software is exactly like buying a toilet. That actually that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m saying it’s worse. I’m saying it’s worse than buying a toilet. It’s actually way worse than buying a toilet. It’s just like buy a toilet except worse. So here’s how let’s think about how a b2b purchase process works. Like let’s just walk it through.

So I’m Janet. I’m the VP finance. We’re going through an audit. I wake up in the morning. And I’m like, this audit is killing me. You know what sucks? My accounting software sucks. It doesn’t do the things we need it to do it doesn’t have a bunch of features I want we need new accounting software. Does Janet go shopping for new accounting software new way she’s busy in the middle of an audit. She goes into the office and she looks around. And she says you, John, you Yeah, you right there you, John, go figure this out. We need to go get new accounting software, you go out there you go on the internet, figure it out, you come back here, I’ll pay for it. Write the cheque. You tell me what we should buy? I don’t have time to figure it out. You will figure it out. How’s John feeling? John’s feeling panic. John’s like crap. I don’t know anything about accounting software? Maybe I use the accounting software. But I don’t know what the state of the art of accounting software is. I don’t know who’s who in accounting software vendors. I don’t know what features I don’t know what’s possible and not possible in accounting software, like, and I’m starting to freak out and I’m like, oh, geez, I’m gonna have to figure this out. Because now my boss has given me this task. And so the first thing I do is I go on the internet. And so I’m looking for options. And what do I see? Too many options. It’s terrible if there’s Gartner quadrants, and there’s J2 crowd, and there’s all this stuff. And there’s 9 million vendors, and they all look the same. Like all their stuff looks the same. Like I’m in the top right corner of J2 crowd and and everybody’s good. And there’s 50 of them. How do I pick I go on the websites, and every single vendor says we’re the world’s number one accounting software. Well, that’s not helping me. I’m freaking out. And so I’m signing up for free trials. I’m poking around. I’m like, I don’t actually know how to make this decision. And maybe I click on that button on your website that says give me a demo. Yeah.

So I click on that button, because I’m going to find something out there. And then what does your sales rep do? Your sales reps like, this is great, man. John, great to see you. Welcome. Come on in, enter into my wind tunnel of features. I’m gonna give you the product walkthrough that I’m gonna give you product walkthrough. Here’s a feature. Here’s a feature. Here’s a feature. Here’s another feature on it. I mentioned we got to think that you will love this one. Here’s a feature. Here’s a feature feature feature feature feature feature feature feature. And John’s like freaking out with his hair blowing back like, oh my god, there’s all this stuff. Does this help John? No, it doesn’t. This doesn’t In fact, just full on freaks John out. And why is John so freaked out? John’s freaked out because if he makes a bad choice, terrible things might happen.

Like, like, let’s say I pick the wrong thing. And I go back to my boss and my boss thinks I’m an idiot. Or I pick a thing that’s terrible to use. And everybody in the accounting department is using this software and looking at me going this is your fault, John, thanks a lot. Or maybe it doesn’t have the things we needed to do for the business. We fail the audit and then the whole business This fails, oh, that’s not bad. Maybe I’m gonna get fired. So this feels like a really risky, scary decision. What is the easiest lowest risk thing that John could do at this moment?

Well, when they said, let’s say he doesn’t have a gardener subscription, but you’re right, right, sometimes that’s what we do. But actually, the easiest lowest risk thing for him to do is go back to his boss and say, You know what, now’s not a good time. Let’s just not buy, let’s delay, you know what the thing we’re using right now. It’s okay. Like, it’s not terribly like, we don’t love it. But I looked at the other things, and they look expensive, they look hard, they look, whatever, we’re in the middle of an audit, we don’t have time for this, let’s just kick that can down the road, we’ll look at it next year or the year after, maybe she’s not going to point at me next time when she says it.

So here’s the thing, the data on this shows that 40-60%, of b2b purchase processes. End in no decision.

Now think about that. That’s a purchase process. Like we already decided we wanted to get off the old thing. So it’s not like that means status quo is winning. Sometimes it does. But for the most part, it’s ending and no decision because we couldn’t figure out how to make a decision, we couldn’t figure out how to do make that decision and feel confident about it and feel like it’s not risky. And so in that situation, because I can’t figure out how to make a good purchase decision. The easiest thing is to do nothing, and make no decision at all. So, in b2b, this is the most fearsome competition we have. If you think about it, most fearsome competition is the customer comes in and says, Yeah, now’s a good time. Yeah, let me think about it.

So I just want to go back to toilet town for a second here, like just for a second. So the end of this story is funny because I went to my contractor and I said, Look, I don’t want to buy a toilet. I’m just gonna keep the old toilet. I’m busy. I’m too busy. And, you know, I get my excuse. And the contractor says, lady, what are you talking about? We took the toilet outta here. We said it the recycling, it’s gone. Like it’s gotten to the big bathroom in the sky. You got to go and get yourself a toilet. And I’m like, so I go back to the toilet store and I meet this guy. His name is John. Come on that’s funny! I you know, I did this talk. I did this talk in the UK. And I said his name was Lou and everyone was like, same thing. They’re like, yeah. Toilet joke. All right, fine. It’s not funny in any culture. Fine.

Alright, so I meet this guy I’m gonna call them Lou. Because I thought that was funny. So So I mean, Lou and I walk in, and I’m like, Lou comes up and he’s like, Can I help you? And I’m like, Yes, man. Yeah, I cannot leave the store without a toilet. Like, I gotta buy a toilet. I’ve been shopping for toilets. It’s terribly goes. I know too many choices. Right? It’s really hard to buy a toilet and I said, like, Lou, you don’t get it. It’s been sh*t. And he’s, you know, he says, he says, we don’t use that word here, ma’am. It’s solid waste. And I’m like, it’s been solid waste Lou. Anyway, so he comes in, he says, look, look, there’s no problem. I’m gonna teach you how to buy a toilet. And I’m like, great, teach me how to buy a toilet. He goes, Look, three things you need to think about quality, aesthetics, price, or no quality, aesthetics, space, these are the three things quality aesthetic space, like, okay, so how does that work? He does see all these ones over here. And they’re like a couple 100 bucks. And all these ones over here. And they’re like, a little bit more expensive. And you know, there’s all those features like flappers and all that stuff. Well, that’s just quality stuff. Like some toilets are built in super high quality standards take a lot of flushes before they break. Other ones that you know, lower quality features, whatever they don’t take, you know, not too many flushes before they break. And I’m like, Who the heck buys a low quality toilet. And he’s actually like, if it’s not your primary toilet, like it’s your secondary bathroom. Maybe you got a vacation home or something hardly ever gets flushed this, these are overkill, you’d be fine to buy this one. Like, that’s really interesting. Okay, well, this, unfortunately, is my primary one. He’s like, okay, don’t look at any of those. You want to look at these. Okay, fine. So we’re gonna look at these.

And then he says, second thing is aesthetics. Like, you know, there’s see that pink toilet over there, there’s a gold one over there. Like some people are building this special kind of bathroom, they really care about the aesthetics. These are high quality toilets, but you’re gonna pay a lot extra for that aesthetics thing. So they’re really expensive. And so, but if you’re going for that, you know, you can pick one of those. I’m like, I don’t have any fashion requirements for the toilet. So let’s eliminate those.

Now we’re getting somewhere. And so now we’re getting down to a small bit and he said, Look, the only thing left here think about here is space. So some bathrooms really, really small. So the toilet there we have these toilets where we put the tank in the wall and it saves a whole bunch of space. And so that’s great for the space situation, but it’s bad because if the tank breaks, you got to bust out the wall to get in there and get out the tank. So you know, if you got the space usually the one outside is better and like I got a pretty big bathroom. So let’s do that. This is fantastic. Now we’re down to three toilets. And I’m like, This is great. There’s three toilets are all cost about the same one’s a little bit more than the others. They’re all different brands. And I’m like, which one? Which one would you pick? And he says, Look, lady, I gotta come clean with you. I actually worked for todos. So you know, I’m going to tell you to pick the toto toilet. But you know, the reason I worked for Toto toilet is because I really believe in the product. And it’s really good. Do your own research. I mean, you can look online and stuff, but nobody complains about this toilet. It never breaks. It’s totally amazing. Like, yeah, it costs 100 bucks more but you know, if you just want to buy a toilet and never think about toilets again, that’s the toilet you’re gonna buy. I’m like, sold slapped down the plastic in 10 minutes. I’m in and out in 10 minutes, I buy a toilet.

Now what happened there? Like it was that guy give me the hard sales pitch? No. Has he been pushy sales guy? No. Was he given me the feature walkthrough? Did he try to take me over to the toto toilet and say, let me tell you about all the flappers and stuff? No, no, he didn’t do that. Like what he did was, he wasn’t actually acting like a salesperson at all. He was kind of acting like a guide. He was basically helping me make sense out of the entire toilet market. So I can make the own my own decision and pick the right one for me. Now, we don’t do this in software for a lot of reasons. But I think the main reason we don’t do it is we have this mistaken belief that the customer does not want us to talk about anything except ourselves. Right?

Because if we’re talking about other companies, well, maybe we’d look like we’re bashing the competition. Or if I have an opinion about the market, like people aren’t going to believe me because I’m biassed. But turns out, this is actually not true at all. So if you look at the research on this. So there’s a great study that was done that looked at enterprise software buyers. And they asked them like, what do you want in a sales meeting? Like what do you want from a salesperson? And the number one thing they want is perspectives on the market? That’s not you? This perspective is on the market? Like how do I split this thing up? How do I think about how do I make choices?

Why pick you over the alternatives?

Second one’s helped me navigate alternatives. This is our problem. We’re coming in, there’s too many choices. And then you go in and do what just talk about yourself. And it actually doesn’t help me make a decision. So how do we build a better story for our sales reps to tell in a sales call? Because we’re not doing a good job of this right now. So I got to thinking about this. You know, the point, like what we actually want to do in a first substantial sales call like after we’ve qualified prospect is answer the question, Why pick you over the alternatives? That’s the real question we’re trying to answer. Now, if you look at the way people develop sales pitch decks, like that we’re using these frameworks that were not designed for this like so first, there’s the product walkthrough, which is most most startups that I work with, that’s what they’re doing; product walkthrough is great and it can work in certain situations, if we’ve got a very educated buyer that really knows their stuff. Maybe they have purchased something like this before it might work. But if they don’t meet any of those criteria, it is not answering the question, Why pick us versus the alternatives? You’re putting all the burden on them to figure out what’s differentiating? What’s important for me? How do I translate these features to value for my business?

The second one that sometimes you see, and this is this is the one that I used to use. Back before I got better way to this was the problem solution pitch. So you start with the problem, say this is the problem. And here’s the solution. Now this is better, because instead of being completely focused on features, we’re a little bit more on value, because we’re talking about a solution. The problem is that our markets are so crowded, that often what you’ll get is all your competitors are saying they solve that problem, too. So it doesn’t actually answer the question, Why pick you over the others?

And then the third one I see is like, it’s basically the VC pitch. But you know, so if companies have been raising money, sometimes you’ll get this one where the company’s been really good at talking about the vision because investors care about that. So there’s this, here’s the vision, you know, and it’s like, there was the old way of doing things. And then there was fire and destruction and terror and whatever now only companies standing is us. It’s amazing. We’re the new way of doing it. And this works really good for investors, for some reason, like they’re thinking on a longer timeline. They’re trying to figure out why you’re a good company to invest in. But it’s double bad to use in a sales pitch because you’re so focused on the future, you’re actually given that buyer an extra reason to delay the purchase because they’re like, oh, yeah, like your vision of the future. Come back here in a year or two when you got that and we’ll see whether or not that thing is actually happening and, again, you’re generally not talking about the whole market. Other than this, you know, the markets going away except us. So why pick you over the competitors, there’s lots of new ways to do this, you’re not the only new thing in town.

So, here’s how I got out of this mess. So I had worked at a bunch of startups. Back when I was working in companies, I was repeat VP of marketing. And so I had worked at a bunch of startups where I was responsible for working with sales on building the sales pitch. And so we would do this problem solution or feature walkthrough where we’d bumble around and figure out something that worked. And I didn’t like that until I got this job at IBM. And, you know, IBM doesn’t just bumble around to do anything, super into processes at IBM. And so I’m launching this new product, part of the launch process is, I gotta build the sales pitch for it. So my boss comes in and delivers me the binder and the binder’s this fat, and this is the IBM process for building the sales pitch. And it’s about 59,000 steps, like and so I’m going through this binder, I’m like, Oh, my God, this is so overkill. And it was very particular to IBM, a lot of it really big deal really long sales cycle. So at first, I thought it was stupid. But then after I built a dozen or so pitches, I started to see pieces of this thing were really genius. And in particular, the way they started a sales conversation, they never started with features. They always started with, here’s how we look at the world. And let’s have a conversation about that.

And so anyways, I left IBM and I went to a startup, and I was brand new, and the head of sales was brand new, and we had really terrible pitch deck at this company, our sales decks were terrible. So me and the head of sales sat down, we’re going to redo the deck. And I said, Hey, and I, you know, I hauled out the binder, which I had stolen from IBM. And so I slapped that sucker down on the table. And I’m like, I think we could use some of this. And so we pulled a bunch of stuff out of there that we really like, and re architected the sales deck on this, and it worked really, really well sales is going really good. At one point, I’m having a meeting with the founder, and I’m walking through this new sales deck. And so the founder looks at it. And he said, You know what’s funny about this, if I pitched it, that’s how I’d pitch it. So if I’m with a customer, I actually pitch it like that. He said, but I never like salespeople don’t, I’ve never figured out how to get salespeople to pitch it like that. And so I’ve now done maybe 200 sales pitches using this structure. And so I think it works pretty well. And the most common feedback I get from founders is I actually kind of pitch it this way, I didn’t think about it in a structure. But I kind of pitched it this way. I just never knew because I didn’t think about it as structure. I never knew how to teach my reps how to do it this way.

Pitch it like you’re selling it.

So anyways, I’m going to teach you how to do it, because it’s going to take me like 10 minutes, I got this figured out now. So here’s how it works. A good sales pitch has this kind of setup phase at the beginning. And the setup phase is not about you; the setup phase is about the whole market, and how to split alternatives up. So I start with my insight into that market. It’s what I know about this market that probably my competitors don’t. And that knowledge – that insight – is specific to the kinds of companies I’m trying to sell to. So I start with that this is what we call like the problem inside the problem. So we start with that I got this insight.

Now, once I’ve had a conversation with a customer about that, then I’m like, Okay, you have choices. Let’s look at all the different choices and stack them up against that insight, Oh, these are good for this bad for that good for this bad for that, here’s the choices. And then based on that discussion, we can kind of map out with the customer, here’s what a perfect solution for you should look like. Like, here’s the characteristics it should have.

And if we get agreement on that, then I switch to the demo or the presentation depending on what I’m doing. I switch to my stuff. This is the follow through. And all I got to do is show how I map to this perfect solution that we just defined.

So let me give you an example of this. So Yesterday you heard from Nick, at HelpScout – not sure if he’s here today. But so I’m going to use HelpScout as an example. So if you don’t, you know HelpScout there in the customer service space, so they sell software that they sell to small and medium businesses and a lot of their clients are online businesses. Their competition is either a shared inbox like a lot of these companies just start with a shared inbox for doing service. But then things get a bit more volume company starts to grow, get a lot more customers, and then they migrate up to usually something that looks like Help Desk software like Zen Desk or something like that. That’s their competition.

What they have that’s really different is you know, there are a lot like a shared inbox and there’s really easy to use, but they also have a lot of advanced features that you know, you would need as the company grows. So they’re similar to Zendesk in that way without losing the good customer experience. But the big thing that really makes them different is they actually look at customer service in a totally different way, because their customers look at it in a different way. So a lot of these online businesses don’t see customer service as a cost centre.

Now Help Desk software comes out of this world where customer service is a cost centre, we actually don’t want to serve you, we want to push you to low touch channel, we want to, we’re going to time how long these calls are. And the time needs to go down. Because we’re trying to take the cost out of customer service, Help scouts clients are the opposite. They’re like, think about online direct to consumer brands, they don’t have sales reps, that one of the few places where they get to interact with a customer is when they call in with a problem. So the whole thing they’re trying to do is love these customers to death. Because the data and everything else shows that if you can provide a really amazing experience, when these customers call in, they’re going to come back and buy from you again. They’re going to buy more stuff from you. So it’s good for retention is good for expansion, all that stuff. So that’s HelpScout.

Now, how do we pitch it? So I could give you the walkthrough, right? I’m online business, I come in, I hit the button, say give me a demo, I can give you the walkthrough and the walkthrough would look like this. Hey man. Here’s how you get started. Here’s a shared inbox. Here’s how this works across couple different channels. Here’s what you do assignments and prioritizations. Hey, man, look at these workflows in integration, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, feature feature, blah, blah, blah. Now, does that really tell me how it’s different than helpdesk software? I don’t know, some of that stuff sounds the same. And so if I’m the buyer, I don’t know if I can figure out how this thing is different and how it’s not. So here’s how they actually do it, which is totally different customer gets on the phone, and we’re doing the first sales call are qualified, they start with the insight. So they say, Hey, you’re an online business, we sell lots of online businesses. And here’s what we’ve noticed, online businesses like yours, see customer service as a growth driver, rather than a cost centre. And sometimes they give a couple examples of that. And there’s actually lots of good data that shows again, if you provide this really great service, there’s, you know, good for customer loyalty, retention, all that stuff. So they start with that. And a lot of their customers go Yeah, yeah, we actually see it like that. Yeah, yeah, we do see it like that. And they say, okay, look, you got choices. And customer service offers lots of lots of different ways you can solve this problem of customer service. And so let’s, let’s look at them. Like we know this, we see customers. So a lot of our customers start with a shared inbox, that’s actually a good solution. If you don’t have too many clients, you’re not doing anything too complicated. Everything’s kind of small. That actually works really good. It works good, because really easy to use, and everybody loves it. Problem is, is you outgrow it. So the minute you want to do prioritizations, or workflow or integrations, now you got to migrate to something else. And that’s actually super painful.

So then, when you do migrate, what are your choices? Well, there’s this traditional helpdesk software problem with this a couple of things. One, it’s terrible, like the user experience is terrible. So your reps are going to be very mad when you do this migration, it’s really hard to get up and running, it’s complicated, it’s got a lot of stuff, like it’s not going to be easy. Second thing is, these guys don’t think about customer service the same way you do. So the whole thing is architected to drive the cost out at the expense of customer service, we’re gonna push you to the FAQ, we’re gonna push you to like some AI is going to talk to you instead of an actual person. So in a perfect world, what would perfect customer service software look like? Well, it would be, you know, super easy to use and adopt just like your shared inbox, but it will give us some of these advanced features that you could grow into. And then lastly, it’d be really oriented around customer experience, because that’s super important for your business.

Now, at this moment, like how long does it take me to do that? Like a minute, right? At this moment, I’m at the critical moment I look across and I’m like, right? And you’re either with me or you’re not? If you’re with me, then I got you. All I got to do is show how my software does all that stuff. If you’re not with me, well, you’ve just disqualified yourself essentially, right? If you say no, actually, I don’t care about customer service. Well, then HelpScout is not the right solution for you; but if I look across and I say look, you want this stuff at the bottom here, right? And if you go, yeah, man, I’d be stupid not to want that. Yeah, I do. And then you go, Great. Now I’m gonna give you the demo, and the demo is all organised around my value. So point number one easy to use and adopt. Let me show you how we do that. Here. We are logging in. Here’s a shared inbox looks great, right? We can get you up and running in two minutes. Blah, blah, blah, here’s the thing. Secondly, it may Hands features you can grow. And let me show you a few of those. So, you know, if you get so that you have too many, and you want to do prioritizations, here’s how it works. Or you want to do a bit of workflow, oh, we got that. Here’s how it works. You want to do integration, here’s how it works. Notice the experience is still lovely, it still looks like a shared inbox. Isn’t that great? And then the last thing is this idea of customer experience like Zendesk, all those other guys, they’re going to, they’re going to take your customer and assign them a ticket number you people are not a ticket number, they’re people. So we don’t do that, right? We let the customer choose what channel they want, whether it’s low cost or high cost, we don’t care. We’re just trying to give them the best experience possible.

Now that’s a better pitch. And it clearly answers the question, Why pick us over the other things. So it looks like this, we started with the insight, we did the alternatives, we painted this picture of the perfect world. And that’s just my little setup. Then we go over and talk about our stuff and show how it maps into that. Now, how do we actually get this if I was trying to build one of these things from scratch. The interesting thing about this is the inputs to this come from your positioning. So if you think about a really good sales narrative, what it does is it paints a picture of the whole market, and then it positions you in the middle of that. So positioning is actually really critical to this. It’s the inputs. So if we read a little review on positioning here, like if we think about positioning, I got five component pieces, it starts with competitive alternatives. If you didn’t exist, what would a customer do? So what’s the status quo and the account? Who else are they comparing you to? Once I have that, then I can say, well, what have I got capabilities wise feature function wise, that the alternatives don’t have, and I can list those out. But features don’t matter. Like people are not buying you for features, they’re buying you for the value that the features enable. So I can go down that list of features. And for every feature, say, I got a shared inbox. So what why does Customer Care? Well, I got workflow integration. So what? Well, the reason the customer cares is because they don’t have to switch platforms when things start getting tricky in their scaling, right? So we can map the value, once I have this is the value that no one else can deliver, I can then ask myself the question, well, who cares a lot about that, in the case of HelpScout is he’s online businesses that are really trying to drive great customer experience. And then the last bit is market category, like what are you like in case of HelpScout, they’re not help this software, they’re actually customer service software that drives growth. That’s what they are.

Now, if I think about the bits of that sales, pitch structure, everything comes from here, like the value bid the back end, I did that in my positioning. So that’s there. The alternatives, like in the pros and cons of the other alternatives comes from my own competitive alternatives bid this thing at the start, which is the insight, you can think of that as what is it that a customer needs to understand in order to understand my value. So that’s what your insight is. I’ll give you another example of that. But the point here is that the sales pitch is only as good as your positioning. So if your positioning is really strong, it’s quite easy to build a sales pitch like this, if your positioning is a little bit mushy, we got this garbage in garbage out problem, the machine positioning comes in, and the mushy sales pitch comes out of the bag. So you know, if you try this and it doesn’t work, it’s likely that it’s because you’re not super crisp on your differentiated value, or your maybe you use people or who you compete with, but your customers are actually comparing you to somebody else. And you need to get on to that.

If you want to go deep on positioning like you know you’ve read this book, but so let me give you another example. So this is a this another example, I use these guys for examples for years, but I love them. So there’s this company level jump. What they do is sales enablement software. So if you have a sales team, and you need to get them trained, like you hire a new sales rep, you need to get them up to speed. These guys do this; this is a terrible market like I can barely express how terrible this market is. I met somebody yesterday is in this market. And I was like, rough market man. But anyways, it’s terrible, because there’s a lot of competition. And so they’re new in this market, a lot of their competitors have raised hundreds of millions of dollars inVCs, like big companies, well established all this stuff. So they come in, when they looked at their positioning, it was quite clear what they competed with. So that you know, small companies will put sales enablement stuff on a shared drive to start with. And then sometimes what they’ll use is actually content management system like a CMS and so they’ll put stuff in there and do version control on it. And then at some point, if they’re getting really fancy, they’ll buy an LMS like a learning management system and create courses and then get the reps to certify on the courses. So that’s where they compete with. Their big differentiating thing is of all the enablement things in the land. They’re the only one that’s built on On top of Salesforce, that’s the feature built on top of Salesforce, the value of that feature is that when you’re doing sales enablement programmes, now I can actually measure that with sales data, because it’s all inside Salesforce. So I can see did my training, like reduce the time to first deal or reduce the time it took a new rep to make quota. So that’s their value.

So, again, if I was going to do the feature pitch on this, which their reps I said, no sales call and saw where their reps do it like this, like they said, Okay, look, here’s how you log on, isn’t this great? It’s all inside Salesforce. Here’s how you log on. Here’s how you set up the training. Here’s how the reps can access the training, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, features, features, features, features, and at the very end, they were like, oh, yeah, here’s how you track the results. They’re big differentiated thing, like totally buried at the end. And so people are looking at all these other things. And they’re asking them all these questions about minute little features that some LMS they’re also looking at has, and you know, this is not going well. So you re-architected the pitch. So again, if we take it back to this structure, first step is the insight. So now what they do, they sell to the head of sales enablement, inside a company. So that’s the person responsible for training or whatever. So they’re sitting across from the head of sales enablement. And they’re like, Okay, you’re the head of sales enablement. So you know that sales enablement, super important, right? Why is it so important? It’s important, because every day, your reps not making quota costs you money, how much money you might ask yourself a lot. So then they have the slide that shows you how much money you’re wasting because you’re slow ramping your reps. So they show that, and then they say, look like you have lots of choices how you want to solve this problem? We know because we talked to lots of companies like you. So you know, you probably started by putting stuff on a shared drive, right? Yeah, yeah, we had it on the shared drive. And then, you know, sometimes you start worrying about people are using the wrong version of stuff. So you’ll move to a CMS. And that’s great solves that problem. But that doesn’t actually let you measure whether or not your training is working. Hmm. And then some folks will go to an LMS and put it on there and certify, and you can tell who took the training. But it doesn’t actually tell you whether or not the training was working can’t measure the impact of the training.

So you know what, like, in a perfect world, we would have sales, onboarding, sales enablement software, that allowed me to measure the impact of sales training, so I could show my boss how great my stuff is, with sales metrics. And if I could actually measure that, then I could improve the training, I know what’s working, what isn’t working, right, this my right moment. And so you’re the head of sales enablement, who doesn’t want to show their boss whether or not this stuff is working with occasionally you’ll get one that’s like, I think I suck at my job. And I actually don’t want that. But most of the time, they don’t. So if you lean across and you say, Don’t you want to measure the impact of your sales enablement? Massively? Yeah, I do, actually. Then we met them. Great. Let me show you how we do that. So then we go into the demo, and we’re focused on that thing. That’s our differentiated thing. So we come in and wait, here’s how you measure it. You can track time to make quota, time for steal, all this other stuff. And then once I have that, here’s how I take that feedback and use it to improve the stuff that I have completely different sales pitch. So for these guys is really transformational, growing really fast. I recently got acquired by Salesforce, everybody’s rich.

Just to recap, same thing, right? Starting with the insight, you know, why bother even doing sales enablement, if I can’t measure the impact of it? And then look at all the other guys can’t do it with anybody else in a perfect world? Do you actually really want that? Let me show you how we do it. So anyway, getting near the end of this, so I’m going to give you some homework. Here’s what I think you could do with this right now.

Sit down ask yourself this question, like, what are the reasons we pick you over the alternatives? Like, what does a customer need to understand about the value that you deliver? In order to really, really understand that – what is your insight? And then and then the second thing is positioning, like if you’re thinking about this, and it all feels a bit mushy? Like maybe it’s time to check in on your positioning and backup and have a look at that.

So here’s takeaways. One buying is hard. I think we discount that. I don’t think we think about that enough. If buyers can’t figure out how to buy, what they’re going to do is do nothing and that is actually fearsome competition for you. Your sales narrative really needs to answer the question why pick us versus the alternatives? And positioning is a fundamental input to that. So you know, if it’s weak positioning, your sales pitch is going to be weak and there’s nothing we can do about that until we go back and fix the positioning, and then you know, you’re looking for sales rep. I know a guy, he’s working his toilet store. You could hire him.

And that’s it. I’m done.

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Mark Littlewood
Questions we’re gonna start with Carl. But hopefully someone other than Ray’s gonna have questions, not that his questions aren’t great. But he can’t channel everybody.

Ray’s questions are great, that’s why I had to go ahead of him. So this was fantastic. I mean, I’m one of those founders who like, this is how I pitched it, but I could never teach right salespeople to do it. And it was, it was absolutely fantastic. My comment is, sometimes there are buyers, trained by the market to just hurry up and get to the demo, just show me the demo, they don’t want to show that they don’t understand. They don’t hear the insight, whatever, you’re gonna have to go and still do this inside the demo. And the sales reps will say, Well, you’re just showing them features, like, I’m showing it because they’re impatient, they force me to, but then, I still come back to share with them the insight.

And the other thing is, this is there’s one of these sayings, I don’t know who said it, but don’t be the best be the only. And when you start lining up the features, you’re trying to be the best. But you’ve basically but with the right, you position yourself as you’re the only way the only or the only and, and then it really is. And by the way, I do think when when I’ve done this, when you get to that right moment, I’ve done presentations to the executive team in a bank or something and get to the right, you know, you say right, you just show them the first half, but never demo the product. And they decide to buy it at that moment, because you understand their problem better than they could. And you’re the only person they’ll ever trust. And that’s who Lou was for you. He’s the only person you’d ever trust to sell your toilet, because he became the only alternative. So this was fantastic. And it’ll be enormously useful for a lot of people.

April Dunford
Thank you, thank you. But this, that, but that insight that like the pushback I sometimes get from from sales reps, is the sales reps say look like I love it. But that setup thing, I can’t do that. Because the you know, especially if you sell to really technical people, to like technical people, they don’t want to see a slide. They don’t want to go and blah, blah, blah and sound like a sales rep. They don’t want that. And they’re just like, show me the demo, just give me this get get in there, show me the demo. And so like that setup, it can actually be really short. So the level jump folks, the CEO sent me a recording of one of his reps doing this pitch. And he has one slide before he goes into the demo, he has one slide and it’s 90 seconds. And he gets to the right in 90 seconds. And then he goes into the demo. So it doesn’t like if you’re doing this really well. The setup shouldn’t be bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. In fact, if it goes on too long, and just frustrate everybody, I think it’s totally possible to do it in the script of the demo. And to not even have slides. But it depends on what you want. But a lot of the companies I work with have one or two slides at the beginning, we set it up, then we go and the whole structure of the demo is around. Here’s the value. Let me show you how we do it. Here’s the value. Let me show you how to do it. And we do that. But yeah, sometimes I’ll get this pushback from reps and be like, No, we gotta go straight to the demo. And that’s fine. But it doesn’t change the structure of the talk track, like the script is still the same.

Great, great talk. What if you have a product that people use in a lot of different ways? So I run a Siemens company? And so you mentioned like one of the you know, LMS sometimes we go up against systems but people use us for you know, ecommerce, lots of different use cases. So I don’t know, how do you use your advice? Just pick one, just pick one and go for it? Or …

April Dunford
This is maybe a controversial opinion? I don’t think it is. But but but here’s my answer that so it’s not unusual, particularly in a startup. It’s not unusual, where we launch a thing. And people we’ve got segment one uses it for this thing and segment two uses it for this thing and segment three uses it for this thing.

And so, when we go to do the positioning, sometimes the positioning is really different, because the competitive alternatives are different. Therefore, the differentiated features are different. Therefore the value is different. And we actually have different positioning for each of those three segments. This is very bad because what it means is ultimately if we do the thought experiment on that, if it’s different competitors, diferent differentiated value, that means each of these three segments wants different things in the future. So you might be satisfying them all now, but these guys want this thing. And these folks want this thing. And these folks want this thing. And eventually, what you have is a product strategy problem, like, am I gonna be everything for all these people? How do I rank the features that I build, and you’re gonna get into this mess in the future where it’s like, I’m kind of half assing, all of it, and now nobody’s happy, or you know, and so what generally happens in a startup is, if those things are actually really different, you end up having to pick one and run with that one.

Now, that said, sometimes what we have is segment a uses it for this segment B uses it for this, and on the surface, it looks different. But when you go to do the positioning exercise, it’s like, actually, the differentiated capabilities are the same, and the value they’re getting out of it is the same. Even though the things are different, I worked for a company where we had two big segments, and one was retail. And the other one was utilities, like so different. But the value was the same, which was really, if you had a catastrophic event, we could make sure that you were back up and running in a couple of seconds. So in retail that was that, you know, something goes down, the cash registers aren’t working, we can make sure the cash register is working in a second. In utilities, it was if the lights go out, they’re back on in a second. So the value was the same, which was about this catastrophic failure things. So we actually had common positioning for both. And the sales narrative was exactly the same. But when we got to like the proof section of the sales narrative, like you show your value, and usually you’ll do, you’ll say, well, here’s a case study of a customer that did it this way. But it was retail, we talked about retail stuff, it was utilities, we talked about utilities, the wording in the pitch was a little bit different because we’re talking about cash registers for retail, we’re talking about power, but the nut of the positioning was actually the same. And so that’s generally what I see when companies come to me and they have this we have different segments, whatever. Generally, like if you’re not getting different requirements or different things, then what’s actually happening is you have common value, there are different use cases, but there is this common layer of value across them. So it’s actually the same, and what you end up with is one pitch. So I sold a database product at IBM, and we did over a billion revenue, like you know, tonnes of use cases tonnes of different things. One pitch, one pitch, one positioning, one web page, one pitch,

Hello, ello. April. Great, great, great talk. And I had two questions. One is, is the insight, the biggest problem solution that we have? Can you talk a little more about insight? Second question is, how do you end the meeting?

April Dunford
How do you end the meeting? Oh, that’s a good question. Good question.

So, so insight, I think it like so I have been doing this pitch structure for literally 15 years, I’ve built like, 200 of these things. And it’s only been in the last year that I’ve been able to explain to somebody what that first step is like that. I was really stuck on that. Like, I knew it wasn’t the problem, like because it isn’t the problem, right? Like in, like, if I use the example of level jump, they’re not talking about the problem. I’ve seen some people say know what it is, is the change in the market or the trend or something, but there’s no change, no trend and level jump it. So what it is, is it’s, you know, what do I have to understand in order to understand the value. So in level jumps case, it’s, you know, you need to measure the impact of sales enablement with sales results. And that is the whole reason they built what they built. But most customers didn’t think about it that way. Like they didn’t understand that. And if you didn’t understand that, then you didn’t care about level jump, you would never pick them. So what is it that a customer has to understand, they have to understand that there is immense value in being able to track sales enablement with sales results. And so at the beginning of this pitch, I have to wake them up to that a little bit and say every day your reps not making quota cost you money. You ever think about that? Like so. So that’s it. It’s the same thing with HelpScout. Like, you have to think about customer service as a growth driver, otherwise you don’t get what they do. And so, you go through the positioning exercise, you get to your differentiated value. And once you have that you have to kind of step back and say, Why doesn’t a customer get that already? Like, like when we’re pitching customers, what do they have to know? To be able to see the value in what we do? And that’s where we start. So that’s the first thing. Sorry, what was the second? Whoa? How do you end. So coming back to this idea that customers don’t know how to buy. So you know, my example, I’ve got this customer, and they got to buy accounting software, and they’re in a panic, and they have to like, your job in sales, is to help that person do that thing, right. So in this case, I’m trying to help this person by accounting software. So not only do they not know how to pick accounting software, they don’t know how to evaluate accounting software, they literally don’t know what the next step is in a purchase process, because they’ve never bought accounting software before. So it’s your job to teach them that. So we get to the end. And generally, what you want to do is, like, you’ve done a tonne of these deals, what is the sensible next step? And you tell them what to do? You say, look, you’re buying accounting software, right? You probably gonna have to go to the IT department and get approval from them. Now, let me tell you what your IT guy is going to say, he’s gonna say we can’t buy this thing, unless it integrates with our CRM or some other thing. And don’t worry, we do integrate with the CRM. So you know, here’s how you handle that objection. And then we probably need a meeting with di t guy, you could do it yourself. But if you want, I’m happy to be with you on that. If you want I even have a deck you could use for your IT guy if you want. Here’s the here’s the info page for it, people, I got that for you. And then and then you might say, and then or maybe your sales process is you do a proof of concept. So you say okay, so what we usually do now is we’ll do a little proof of concept, give us a little bit of your data, we’ll do a little thing, we’ll do that. That’s the next step. So generally, we get to the end of the sales pitch, we want to be very deliberate about what the next step is. Because the person across from you maybe doesn’t know. And so you don’t want them to just leave like, Okay, call me when you’re ready to buy. Like maybe the next step is I’m gonna give you a quote, right? And then you can take that to your boss, here’s what your boss is gonna say, your boss is gonna say this too expensive. Here’s how you shown the ROI. It’s that kind of stuff.

Mark Littlewood
But we need to be we’re only getting to like, buy 40% of the time, so they’re not used to it.

April Dunford
Well, this is a thing like you don’t you don’t want to you don’t want to have that person leave the meeting and go, Wow, I love that stuff. I have no idea what to do next. Right? So your job is to help them right. Like like and say, Look, we recommend you do this next, you don’t have to it’s just a recommendation. We do whatever you want. Maybe that’s not maybe you do know what to do next, that’s fine. We’ll do whatever you want. But if you don’t know, I’m gonna tell you.

Mark Littlewood
I’m gonna try and squeeze in. So Ray, you go.

Thank you for another great talk, April, you commented about the founder, right, the founder who said, this is the way I present anyway. Yeah. So for you right now get to play on easy. You’re telling us? For many of us, this is sort of how at least rhymes right with the pitches that we do today. But the challenge that we face is how to the professionals who are working for us, going to actually go relay that. And of course, yesterday there are at least two talks about, you know, trying to systemize sales, right? Both technology and from process point of view. Could you put those two ideas together just for a minute about how we can really bring these ideas and systemize them so that our staff can be a bringing that to our customers?

April Dunford
Yeah, absolutely. So here’s how this works in my mind, and anytime, like back when I was in house, this is how I would do it. And now working as a consultant, this is how I tell people to do it. So generally, it starts with positioning, right? If you haven’t checked in on your positioning for a while, you probably should. And if we’re going to do positioning, we generally have a cross functional team. So I got sales, marketing product founders, you know, we get the gang together. And we’re working through these five piece parts of positioning, right? Who are we all in agreement, here’s how we compete with here’s how we’re different. This is the value only we can deliver, here’s who we’re going after this is the market, we’re going to win, then we want to take that and map it into a sales pitch. So it’s impossible to take that and map it into a sales pitch. I don’t have a structure, and most of us don’t. So that’s what this is designed to solve. So then we say, Okay, this is the structure. let’s map it in. I got the gang together anyway. So in the workshops I do with clients, when we’re doing positioning, we don’t stop at positioning, we do positioning, and then we say, Okay, now let’s map it into the sales pitch, while we got everybody in the room. And so the cool thing about that is one, sales is involved. So if sales doesn’t like it, you know, they’re gonna say, I hate this, whatever. Like I don’t, I don’t think this is true or whatever. But not only that, at the end of this exercise, we’ve kind of mapped out this narrative. And now everyone in the company knows how to do it. At least everybody was in the room that runs a department can then go back and teach their folks how to do it. So we have that.

Usually what happens is, we’ll work on the narrative, right, which is kind of like a storyboard that follows those boxes. And so We’ll say Do we all agree this is how we tell the story just way I did it with the two examples here. So we’ll do that together as a group. And then what I’ll do is all send marketing and sales to go actually build it deck demo script. Right? And so that should be marketing and sales together, do not send this to marketing, and expect marketing, do it on their own, this will never get adopted. Never, never, never in the history of business, has marketing, built a deck for sales and sales just said, Ooh, thank you very much. I love this. We’ll just use this now. So what happens is, it gets to sales and sales says, yeah, that’s nice. I got a deck that I like better than that. Right. And then they just use their but if marketing and sales works on it together.

And then this is super important. Marketing and Sales works on the pitch together deck demo script. Here’s how you roll it out. Again, do not just heave it over to your wholesales team do not do this, that because it won’t work. Salespeople love the deck they have right now, even if it’s garbage, because they know it, they’re comfortable with it, they know it they know they got their pitch all down, they know where they tell the jokes, you know, like it’s they know it. So anything new is bad. So what you actually have to do, here’s how you do this, you look at your sales team, you pick the best person, best sales rep, you’ve got, bring her in, then we’re going to train her on this thing. And she’s not going to like it, because she’s like, I like the other pitch, I got more than I got my way that I do my thing. And you got Yeah, well, too bad, you’re gonna learn this one. But I’ve only got one rep doing it, but he’s my best rep. So I got my best rep, I teach them, I train them how to do it, then we go send that rep out to do it with a bunch of qualified prospects. And they get some experience with it, if they’ve done half a dozen pitches, or so on this. And this thing is better. Now they’re starting to feel it. And so my pass fail criteria on this pitch, how we test it is, after half a dozen things, what usually happens is, I’m sitting in on all these calls, because I want to tweak the deck. And after about half a dozen of these, my best rep comes back and says you know what, April, you can stop sitting on all stupid calls with me. This is actually good. I think we’re done tweaking it. And importantly, I like it. And I’m not going back to the old one.

Once you got that, that’s pass. So then what you do is I record that rep doing it. And then I make that rep go back and train all the other reps. Because sales only wants to talk to sales. So now I’ve got someone who’s really good at it and knows that it’s good and believes in it. And it’s my best rep. So everybody’s more likely to listen to her than they are to me over marketing. So then I turn around and have that rep train everybody else. And that’s how you roll it out.

Mark Littlewood
One more question.

So in your example, at the start April, you had the frustrated executive who goes to the website and clicks on their give me a demo. Right? So that’s clearly not the promise that we’re offering them. So my question is, what is the promise that we are offering them? And how do we qualify those leads? So we don’t spend a lot of time on calls where clearly we are not the answer to the question.

April Dunford
Yeah. So a couple of things. I think it’s fine. If the button says give me a demo, like we’re giving them a demo in this. In fact, we’re spending the bulk of the time in a demo, which is here’s the value, this is the value, this is how we do it. So and I think prospects do want a demo, they want to see it right. They want to get in the process product. Sometimes. I mean, sometimes you have Gorby enterprise software that doesn’t lend itself to a demo, like I sold databases for years. We don’t demo that. But if what you’re doing is a demo, I think the call to action can be give me a demo. Absolutely. It’s just that when they’re in the demo, what you’re also doing is teaching them how to think about the market. So it isn’t just about you and your features and functions. It’s about here’s how to think about the market. Here’s how to make a good choice for you. Here’s how to feel confident in that choice. Sorry, what was the second part of it is? Oh, qualified. Yeah. So this is really important. So you know, if you know a lot about sales, right? There’s two really important things in sales. There’s qualification and there’s discovery. So qualification is to make sure that this person is worth talking to at all like it. And so usually, you’re doing qualification in one of two ways. You either have something programmatic on the website that qualifies them, like they have to fill out a little form or something like that. And if they’re disqualified, then they then You disqualify them and they don’t get the demo. Sorry. It’s like our stuff is not for you. But we’ll wait a lot of companies do it when you get a little bit bigger is you actually have inside salespeople that do that do before the demo happens. So they click on the button, say, give me a demo. And then you actually have an inside salesperson that talks to the customer and does qualification. So they’ll say, Look, I just need 10 minutes, just so that we’re ready for the demo that you’re going to get. And so and they ask a bunch of questions and say How big are you What’s your budget? What do you do and and there’s usually a set of questions depending on what your criteria are, and you qualify them. And so if they qualify, good, then they go and get the down to our long meeting where we give them the demo and all that stuff. If they disqualify, then the STRS. The STRS job is to say, you know, what, we’re kind of not for people like you, we actually sell to people bigger than you are smaller than you. And this isn’t a fit, and you know, you get out of them without wasting your very expensive sales reps. Time. That’s qualification. Second thing is discovery. This is a bit of like, I’m gonna do an inside baseball sales stuff here. Maybe you don’t know what discovery is like discovery is if you go to Sales Training, school, discovery is where cus the prospects being qualified. And the way the way most reps think about discovery is, is I’m asking a bunch of questions, and you’re answering the questions, like, you know, and it’s a bit like, Oh, I’ve seen a lot of reps do this, and it feels like therapy, they’re like, Tell me your problems. And what are you wrestling with and all this stuff. And I think that’s useless, I think done really well. What discovery is doing is waking the customer up to the problem inside the problem. So this setup phase, in particular, that step where you’re walking through the alternatives, that is not me talking at you, if I’m the sales rep, that is a conversation. So in the conversation, it’s a discovery conversation. So the conversation goes like this where you’re like, okay, like, we work with a lot of clients that look like you, but maybe your situation is different. Like we see the alternatives look like you What do you guys do and right now? So what are you using? Are you using that? And how’s that working for you? You ever find that? It’s frustrating, because reps don’t? Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s interesting. Yeah. We find a lot of folks do that. And then they graduate from that, and then they do this. Did you guys ever consider that? Are you looking at that? How’s that working out? What are your like? Are you worried about anything there? So this is discovery, we’re actually doing this in this step with the alternative. So a really good sales rep is going to do that. The point of that is a little bit of figuring out the customer situation, and how can we best serve them, but it’s also teaching. Like, it’s also teaching, and I’m waking you up to this problem. If you don’t actually know that you got this problem inside the problem. I’m waking you up to it in the middle of that discussion.

Mark Littlewood
Who knew April Dunford as a positioning genius? Bet you didn’t know she was a sales genius. April, thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.

April Dunford

Founder, Ambient Strategy

April spent 25 years as a startup executive, running marketing, product, and sales teams at seven successful B2B technology startups, acquired for a combined $2billion, as well as running big teams at IBM, Siebel and Sybase. She positioned, re-positioned, and launched 16 products.

The bulk of her work now is with early and growth-stage startups where the stakes are high – and weak positioning can mean the difference between success or failure.

Her book, Obviously Awesome, is recognised as the definitive guide to positioning. It’s become a best-seller and popular among entrepreneurs, product, and marketing folk. She lives in Toronto, Canada, has kids, a small dog, and a cabin in the woods.

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