Welcome to the latest ‘mind the gap’ sales blog: a series of short and actionable guides to successfully selling into the financial services sector. Today we will discuss the importance of positioning and how it can help you stand out from your competitors.
How many times have you walked into a bank to pitch for a piece of business only to be told ‘we already have the functionality you offer’ or ‘we solved that problem a long time ago’. Perhaps you were asked why your solution is better than what is on offer from your competitors. Or maybe the prospective customer assumed that the vendor they were already working with would offer that functionality in their next release.
As a sales person you know you need to say something at this point, but you might not know how best to respond. That is exactly why positioning is so important!
Positioning gives you an edge over your competitors. It answers questions such as ‘Why are you unique?’ or ‘Why would we even consider talking to you?’ It is something marketing and sales need to tackle together if you want to be successful in this highly competitive market. Hopefully we can give you some useful pointers in this blog.
Different is good
Positioning is all about differentiation – for a practical example of what that means we could look at HSBC and BUX, both of which offer investment services to investors who have never owned stocks or shares before. The basic service may be the same, but the way the two organisations position themselves is very different.
The messaging is of course similar (investors must be warned that the value of their investment can go down as well as up) but it is presented very differently. The wording and design used by HSBC is sober and static, whereas BUX is more design-led and very clearly geared towards people who want to use technology to manage their investments.
Positioning is also closely related with the vision of the company. The vision is your informed view on the world, the culmination of identifying opportunities – and being aware of what is happening in the market - to find your raison d’etre as a company. In other words: it is what gives you your unique place in the spectrum of technology providers.
What makes you special?
Good positioning will provide you with the answers to the following questions:
· For which clients do you solve which particular problems?
· How will you do that and why is this different from your competition?
· Or in other words - what problem do you actually solve and why is that unique?
There are two main reasons why companies find it difficult to articulate what their solution does and how it is unique.
Firstly, they assume they are unique and that they effectively don’t have any competition for what they do. They forget that there are numerous businesses out there who feel they have at least as good a claim to offer a solution to the specific problem as our company does.
Secondly, they believe they have a solution to a perceived problem. What they often fail to consider is that this might not be an urgent problem for their potential customers or at least not a problem that needs to be solved now (what you might describe as a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’).
Can you handle the truth?
When considering how much of the above applies to your company, it is vitally important to answer these questions honestly. We come across so many companies who thought they were addressing a critical issue that was simply not perceived as a problem by their prospective customers.
There is nothing wrong with believing you are the best at what you do, but you need to remember that unless the customer feels the same way that confidence won’t get you very far. It always comes down to customer perception and your competition will be making similar claims regarding their ability to find a solution to a specific problem.
You also need to remember that from the customer’s point of view there will always be more than one solution.
Once you have your positioning right you will probably want to work on your value proposition. In the next blog in this series we will discuss why a good value proposition is important and how to create a practical proposition. Make sure you are in the right place to find out more!
This post is #4 in the Mind the gap!-series.
To find out how to adapt your approach for bringing a lead to a deal read: #1 From lead to deal: change your mindset
The fastest growing B2B companies have their sales and marketing activities, and teams, closely aligned: #2 How Sales and Marketing live happily ever after
The importance of positioning and how it can help you stand out from your competitors. #3 Who do you think you are?