Book Excerpt: From Impossible to Inevitable – Are You a Nice-To-Have?

Sales Nice to Have

Editor’s note: It won’t even be available to the masses for another week, but today we have a sneak peek into Aaron Ross and Jasom Lemkin’s new book, From Impossible to Inevitable. For companies challenged to achieve impossible growth rates, this book reveals the indispensable playbook already being used by the world’s fast growing companies. Brought to you by two of the preeminent B2B sales gurus around, it’s a must-have addition to any sales arsenal.

From Chapter 1 of From Impossible to Inevitable:

Do you believe your intended buyers need what you’re offering? Or are you a nice-to-have? One clear sign that you’re a nice-to-have: Everyone you show your product to says, “cool!” but no one buys.

Consumers don’t buy what they need; they buy what they want. How much do consumers spend on Porsches and ice cream compared to broccoli and psychotherapy?

But businesses don’t buy “nice-to-haves”

For example:Impossible to Inevitable Book

  • Marketers want a beautiful website—but they need a website that converts visitors to outcomes such as leads or purchases.
  • CEOs want “happy employees”—but they need people to show up and do their jobs, for products to be released on time, or for cash flow to be improved.
  • A VP Sales wants “increased sales productivity”—but they need and buy what contributes to it, such as leads, accurate reporting tools, and training.
  • Venture capitalists want to invest in honorable founders—but they need to generate above-average returns, which may or may not come from companies with honorable founders.

It takes a lot of energy to buy and use something new, so if you’re a nice-to-have, it won’t stick. Nice-to-haves fall to the bottom of the “must do” list.

If the buyer doesn’t need your solution, they won’t be motivated to go through all the work to convince their people, justify the purchase, roll it out, and get people to use it.

  • What problem is painful enough that a team of people will spend both their money and time to fix it? If you are solving a need, how can you describe what you do differently, so prospects also see it that way?
  • What differentiates the customers who need you from the ones who don’t?
  • Where can you create the most financial value?
  • Where can you get permission to create case studies or get references? (With some types of markets or customers these are almost impossible to get)
  • How can you “sell money”?
  • How can you sell “things”?

“Sell money” means proving to customers that your product will help them make more money, spend less of it, reduce the risk of losing it, or stay compliant (avoiding fines and legal risk). Demonstrate how spending money with you will make them more money.

Make money by proving to customers that your product will help them make more money, spend less of it, reduce the risk of losing it, or stay compliant.

If you say you’ll “increase revenue” or “decrease costs,” you sound just like everyone else. What’s equivalent to money in their mind—leads?

Close rates? Social activity? Collections? Employee engagement or fulfillment? Although we know engaged employees and fulfillment are vital, how do you prove to customers that you can help them make money with better employee relations, or with better resources and tools for their employees? How can you make the case that your product is needed?

Example: What ACME Learned from Failing at Outbound Lead Generation

A $15 million SaaS company, let’s call them ACME Corp., came to us and said, “We need to grow, we need more leads!” ACME had grown to that point by being a partner of and getting referrals from them. These referrals closed at a high rate, quickly. Well, clearly, it was because they were referrals.

ACME was growing, but wanted to grow faster, to double their rate with paid lead generation. Referrals and organic growth weren’t enough. But ACME assumed that if they just got twice as many leads, they could grow twice as fast.

  • Trouble Clue #1: They’d been trying different online and offline marketing campaigns for the past three years, with results ranging from abysmal to crummy.
  • Trouble Clue #2: They started an outbound prospecting program (with Aaron’s help) and totally failed. A total zero. It took four months (well, on top of the prior three years), but the key learning was that ACME wasn’t ready to grow faster.

This company hadn’t Nailed a Niche. The signs were there before. But they didn’t want to accept it until they tried outbound marketing and hit a wall. Any kind of paid or nonorganic lead generation (like marketing or prospecting) can be a forcing function that makes you confront the reality of whether you’ve nailed a niche or not. If it doesn’t work, you need to rethink your target customer … and possibly your solution.

ACME was in a noisy, commoditized market. All of ACME’s target prospects already had something “good enough.” Their targets’ pains weren’t ones ACME could credibly solve. To the prospects, anything ACME could offer beyond what they already had was just a nice-to-have, and not worth the pain of switching systems. However excited the ACME team was about their own stuff, prospects didn’t get it. They didn’t need ACME’s solution.

Target, Pain and Solution

Your niche isn’t just picking an industry vertical or target, though being selective about whom you’re targeting is important. It also sits at the intersection of the pain they have and your solution.

Now, if you’re in the same situation, do you blame the prospects for not getting it—or do you admit you have work to do?

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