Positioning refers to how your target market perceives your brand or solution. Is your product or service a commodity, category-creating, or category-disrupting solution? Is your company viewed as a thought leader and trusted advisor in its space? Does your solution have logos, customer stories, and social proof to support your claims about the unique value and impact you bring? Does your solution compete on pricing, differentiation, or targeting a specific niche? You can’t deny how your target market perceives you, but you can work with it. Understanding how your positioning and leveraging it turns headwinds into the wind in your sails
Understanding Competitive Alternatives
To execute successful outreach, you need to understand how your solution exists within your target markets. This means knowing which competitors have market share, which is actively pursuing it, and how you’re different. It also means understanding the competitive alternatives buyer personas and end-users in this market are already using to solve the problem you solve. More often than not, your fiercest competitor isn’t a well-funded, strong-branded household name – it’s “do nothing” (the status quo).
- Is this a new or existing market category?
- Which competitors have a strong foothold in this market?
- Which competitors are actively seeking more significant market share?
- What makes my solution different?
Understanding Market Trends
Beyond the competitive landscape, you must also understand the context your prospects’ companies exist within. Trends that are seemingly irrelevant to what you offer can have a considerable impact on how your market perceives your solution. Take COVID-19 as a glaringly obvious macro example. COVID-19 caused various ripple effects like economic uncertainty, cash consciousness, and cautious buyers. On a more micro level, there are all sorts of events rippling through your target segments and shaking up the way and why people buy.
- Which regulations do my target companies have to adhere to?
- Which trends are impacting the industry? The vertical?
- Which new technologies are emerging in this market?
- Which trends are emerging in this market?
- Which challenges are plaguing this market?
Understanding Social Proof
Social proof is one of the most influential tools in your sales development tool belt. Social proof leverages the bandwagon effect – a psychological phenomenon that means people are more likely to do something or trust something if they see others doing it. Ever walked down the street, seen a line of people waiting to get into a busy restaurant, and thought, “that place must be good”? That’s what we’re talking about. With proper, cold, outbound, prospectors are starting out on the back foot. They are an unknown person from an unknown company landing in a buyer persona’s inbox/mailbox and asking for time or interest in an unknown solution. Social proof, coupled with correctly identified pain points and goals, assuages your prospect’s fears and shows them that other people like them from companies like theirs trust you.
If your business is early stage, social proof doesn’t mean fancy, beautifully designed case studies and white papers. It means impactful customer stories. These stories need to walk the reader/listener through the obstacle your customer faced when trying to achieve their goals, how you stepped in, and the measurable, quantifiable outcomes your solution enabled. Most importantly, it needs to be segment and persona-specific. People need to be able to see themselves and their companies in the story, resonate with the problems, value the solution, and align with the positive future state you are proposing. Jenny from marketing at Coca-Cola doesn’t care what you did for Mark from Finance at GM, but she might care about what you did for John from marketing at Pepsi.
If you don’t have these stories already, make it a top priority to gather them through Voice of the Customer interviews and surveys.
What pain was my customers experiencing that made them come to or buy from me?
What was so bad about that?
What was that obstacle keeping them from?
How did I solve that problem?
What tangible benefits does my solution provide?
What proof do I have?