133 / From Positioning to Sales Pitch: How to Make the Buying Process Easier, with April Dunford

Summary notes created by Deciphr AI

Summary Notes


In this episode of Product Momentum, hosts Sean Flaherty and Paul Gable engage with April Dunford, an expert in positioning and sales pitch crafting for tech companies. April highlights the challenges B2B sales teams face, notably the high percentage of sales processes that end in no decision due to buyers' lack of confidence. She emphasizes the importance of salespeople acting as guides, using their deep market knowledge to help customers navigate their purchasing decisions. April advocates for a structured approach to sales pitches that reflects product positioning, facilitates discovery, handles objections, and ultimately aids customers in making confident choices. Her insights aim to foster collaboration between product and sales teams, ensuring that the complexity of the market is made comprehensible to the customer while showcasing the unique value of their product.

Summary Notes

Introduction to Product Momentum Podcast

  • The podcast celebrates product people and explores challenges with practical guidance.
  • Hosts Sean Flarity and Paul Gable introduce the New York Product Conference and guest April Dunford.
  • April Dunford is known for expertise in product positioning and creating effective product demos and sales pitches.

"Welcome to Product Momentum, a community of thought leaders and learners coming together to celebrate the product people who are shaping our way ahead."

This quote introduces the podcast and its focus on celebrating and learning from product professionals.

April Dunford's Background

  • April Dunford has 25 years of experience as a VP of Marketing at startups, six of which were acquired.
  • She transitioned to consulting, focusing on positioning work for tech companies with sales teams.
  • As a consultant, she specializes in positioning and translating it into sales pitches.

"I spent the first 25 years of my career as a repeat vice president of marketing at a series of successful Venture back startups... about eight years ago I made the switch to Consulting and now what I do is very narrow... I only work on positioning work."

April Dunford describes her extensive background and her current focus on positioning in the tech industry.

The Importance of Positioning in Sales

  • Positioning is critical to how product managers communicate with sales teams.
  • The conversation aims to delve deeper into sales pitches and positioning from a product manager's perspective.

"Talking about how positioning works in product manager language and how that communicates into working with sales."

The quote highlights the goal of discussing the integration of positioning with sales from a product management standpoint.

The Statistic of No Decision in B2B Sales

  • A significant percentage of B2B software product sales result in no decision being made.
  • The statistic is based on Matt Dixon's research and indicates that many purchase processes end without a decision.

"I was really surprised by the statistic in your talk about was 40 to 60% in B2B sales... result in no decision being made at all."

This quote introduces a surprising statistic about the frequency of indecision in B2B sales, setting the stage for further discussion on the topic.

Reasons for No Decision in Sales Processes

  • Many B2B purchase processes are abandoned even after selecting a vendor.
  • The primary reason for dropping out is lacking confidence in the decision, fearing negative outcomes.
  • Understanding this phenomenon is crucial for helping customers make confident decisions.

"They can't make a decision that they feel confident about... they're worried what if we've made the wrong choice... so they just drop out at the end and say you know what now's not a good time we'll kick the can down the road maybe we'll decide next year."

April Dunford explains why purchase processes often result in no decision, emphasizing the customer's need for confidence in their choice.

Translating Positioning into Sales Pitches

  • April Dunford's work involves helping customers make confident decisions through effective sales pitches.
  • The sales pitch is crafted by understanding the customer's concerns and addressing them directly.

"A lot of my work around taking positioning and translating into a sales pitch is helping customers make a confident decision."

The quote summarizes April Dunford's approach to creating sales pitches that empower customers to feel confident in their decisions.

Salespeople as Guides

  • Salespeople should act as guides to educate customers about the market.
  • A guide must deeply understand their position to effectively adapt and respond to customer needs.
  • Sales teams can be taught to paint a picture of the market for the customer.

"Salespeople act as a guide so that they can teach the customer more about the whole market."

  • This quote emphasizes the role of salespeople in educating customers about the broader market, not just their product.

"You need to know in your bones what that position is before you can become that guide."

  • This quote suggests that a salesperson must have an inherent understanding of their market position to guide customers effectively.

Understanding the Market

  • Vendors have extensive knowledge about their market, while buyers often do not.
  • Buyers don't want to appear uninformed when making purchasing decisions.
  • Providing a map of the market helps buyers understand different approaches to solving problems.

"We as vendors know a lot about the space... buyers coming in generally have never purchased a product like yours before."

  • This quote contrasts the vendor's extensive market knowledge with the typical buyer's lack of experience.

"What we can do is provide a map of the market."

  • This quote suggests that vendors can assist buyers by outlining the market landscape and where various vendors fit within it.

Positioning and Differentiation

  • It's important not to bash competitors but to categorize them based on their problem-solving approach.
  • Sales teams should communicate how their company's approach is distinct and beneficial for the customer.

"I'm not saying SAP sucks because of blah blah blah; I'm saying look, Legacy Enterprise vendors take this approach..."

  • This quote illustrates how to position competitors objectively by their approaches rather than disparaging them.

"We have taken a different approach... that's what companies like you need."

  • This quote highlights the need for sales teams to explain how their company's unique approach meets the customer's needs.

The Sales Process: Qualification and Discovery

  • Qualification involves determining if a potential customer has a problem the vendor can solve and if they can afford the solution.
  • Discovery is essential to understanding the customer's specific situation, requirements, and timelines.
  • The misconception that sales reps can create a custom sales pitch on the fly during a sales call is debunked.

"Qualification is generally a leg qualification like does this customer have a problem we can solve."

  • This quote defines qualification as the process of assessing whether a potential customer's needs align with the vendor's offerings.

"The key to a first substantive sales call is I have to do Discovery."

  • This quote emphasizes the importance of the Discovery phase in gathering detailed information about the customer's needs and situation.

Sales Call Strategy and Execution

  • Sales calls should educate potential clients on why they should choose the seller's product over competitors.
  • It is important to explain the product's market fit and unique selling points early in the sales process.
  • Initial calls should aim to avoid disqualification rather than to close the deal immediately.
  • The goal is to progress to a second call where the conversation can be more tailored to the client's specific needs.
  • Companies often mistakenly believe they are selling custom solutions when they are actually offering standardized packages.

"If I'm really smart what I would do is teach them at a macro level here's why we think you should pick us instead of the other folks."

This quote explains that smart selling involves educating potential clients on a broad level about the advantages of one's product or service.

"What I should be able to do is say look, here's what the market looks like, here's where we fit, these are the things we think we're amazing at and why we think we're a good fit for a customer like you."

This quote highlights the need for transparency in explaining how a product fits into the market and why it is particularly suited for the potential client.

"All I'm trying to do is get to the second call. I'm just trying not to get disqualified on the first call."

The quote emphasizes the objective of the first sales call, which is to secure a follow-up conversation without being eliminated from consideration.

The Challenge of Buying

  • The buying process is often more difficult than the selling process.
  • Sellers should facilitate the buying process by understanding the market and articulating this to buyers.
  • Companies should leverage their deep market expertise to educate and guide customers.
  • Presenting unbiased information while explaining the reasons behind the product's design and features is crucial.
  • Simplifying the narrative for buyers helps them make informed decisions without feeling overwhelmed or manipulated.

"We know selling is hard, but it's really not; the problem is buying is hard."

This quote suggests that the difficulty lies more in the buying process than in selling, indicating a need for sellers to ease the buying experience.

"We are deep experts in the market, we know all about how our stuff is different than the competitor's stuff."

This quote points out that sellers have extensive knowledge about their products and the market, which should be shared to help buyers make decisions.

"It's almost like we're trying to say look we're hiding that. We're just going to give you the facts, Jack."

The quote criticizes the approach of only providing basic facts without the context and insights that could help buyers.

Collaborative Sales and Product Management

  • The relationship between sales and product management is critical for successful sales conversations.
  • Sales is not the adversary, and customers are not ignorant; both need to be engaged in a constructive dialogue.
  • A discovery process is necessary to understand each other's needs and capabilities.
  • The goal is to reduce tension in sales conversations and support mutual understanding.
  • Accepting that the answer from a customer might be "no" is part of the process.

"Sales is not the enemy, the customer is not stupid, we need to create an environment where we can have these conversations."

This quote calls for a collaborative environment where sales and customers can communicate effectively without misconceptions.

"There's this dance, this little two-step that we have to go through to get to know each other a little bit, this discovery process."

The quote describes the initial stages of the sales process as a necessary period of mutual learning and exploration.

Ineffective Sales Pitches

  • Sales pitches are often just product walkthroughs, focusing on features rather than the value delivered.
  • The goal should be to help prospects make decisions while communicating why to choose this product over others.
  • There's a need for a structured sales pitch that reflects the product's positioning and aids salespeople in discovery and objection handling.

"99% of the sales pitches I have seen are just a product walkthrough... it's just we're just barf out the features."

This quote highlights the common issue with sales pitches where they focus on listing product features rather than addressing customer needs and differentiators from competitors.

"I need to communicate why pick us over the other guys what's the value I can deliver that no one else can."

This quote emphasizes the importance of conveying unique value propositions in a sales pitch to stand out from competitors.

Sales Pitch Structure

  • A structured sales pitch is crucial for reflecting product positioning and supporting sales activities.
  • The structure should facilitate discovery conversations, handle objections, and provide a comprehensive understanding of the product.
  • Sales and product teams need to collaborate using a defined structure to create effective sales pitches.

"The work that I've been doing is coming up with a sales pitch structure that if you understand your positioning, you can construct this sales pitch to reflect your positioning."

The quote explains that developing a sales pitch structure is essential for aligning with the product's positioning and enhancing the effectiveness of the pitch.

"If we have a structure and we understand our positioning, I think product and sales can sit down and work together."

This quote suggests that a clear structure and understanding of product positioning are the foundation for productive collaboration between sales and product teams.

Key Takeaways for Product Leaders

  1. Recognize that buying is challenging and strive to simplify the process for customers.
  2. Implement a structure that helps customers understand market complexity and the unique benefits of the product.
  3. Comprehensive research and understanding of the target audience are necessary to address their specific problems effectively.

"Buying is hard and part of our job is to do the homework to understand how we can make it easier for them to buy."

This quote implies that product leaders have a responsibility to understand the buying process and make it as simple as possible for customers.

"You can't do any of this if you don't really do the homework and understand who it is you're serving and what problems you can solve uniquely and specifically for them."

The quote stresses the importance of in-depth research and understanding of the customer's needs to tailor the sales approach and product offerings effectively.

Learning Resources and Engagement

  • April Dunford offers resources for learning about effective sales pitches and positioning.
  • She has written books on the subject, hosts a podcast, and publishes a newsletter.
  • Listeners are encouraged to engage with the podcast by leaving feedback and ratings.

"I went one book on positioning another one on how to take that positioning translate it to a sales pitch."

This quote informs listeners about the resources available for learning how to improve sales pitches and positioning strategies.

"You can go to April Dunford decom and find out about all of that."

April Dunford invites listeners to visit her website to access her books, podcast, newsletter, and other materials related to sales pitches and product positioning.

Listener Engagement and Feedback

  • The podcast hosts express a commitment to transparency and actively seek listener feedback.
  • Feedback and ratings are encouraged to improve the podcast and increase its reach.

"Sean and I are committed to reading every piece of feedback that we get so please leave a comment or a rating wherever you're listening to this podcast."

The quote is a call to action for listeners to engage with the podcast by providing feedback, which the hosts commit to reading and considering for future improvements.

What others are sharing

Go To Library

Want to Deciphr in private?
- It's completely free

Deciphr Now
Footer background
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon
Crossed lines icon

© 2024 Deciphr

Terms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy