Whether you’re a carrier, a technology advisor, or a VAR, you already know that today’s market is getting competitive. Making matters worse — many of those competitors are savvy and often offer very similar services to each other.
Michael Sterl knows this well. As a former carrier-founder turned channel marketer, Michael has sat on both sides of the sales fence and intimately understands the challenges partners face with standing out and moving the needle.
Today, he’s the co-founder of two successful marketing organizations: Cloud Optics, a Cloud insights platform, and Carve Digital, a marketing-as-a-service company entirely dedicated to serving the Channel.
Since pivoting to the world of marketing and data, Michael has fine-tuned some unique techniques that most partners could benefit from when trying to achieve market differentiation.
I recently sat down with Michael as we gear up for his appearance at the Super 9 Convergence in New Orleans this March. During his talk, Michael shared some great insights into how partners can better differentiate themselves in today’s trying market.
Here are a few of his tips.
Work Those Existing Customers
Logical thinking would reason that it’s easier to upsell to an existing customer than to win over a new one. Time and time again Michael sees Sales Partners doing the exact opposite. The common reason? As one partner relayed to him, the thrill of hunting a new customer often supersedes the rationale of working with existing ones.
Michael suggests that all partners focus on working their existing relationships through the use of data and marketing intelligence. By doing so, they’ll be able to bring richer and more holistic experiences to their customers, and in turn, gain a healthier profit, faster.
To do so, begin by creating a checklist of every customer and itemizing the services or products you can upsell to each. From there, methodically work through that list. Once one product or service sale is complete, move forward to the next.
More importantly, every partner should make it a priority to focus intensely on one set of clients in particular…
According to the Pareto principle, when applied to marketing, 80 percent of most businesses’ sales come from just 20 percent of their customers. More ironically, 80% of the headaches come from the 80% of the smaller clients.
Want to scale? Identify who that 20 percent is and zero in on upselling to that base rather than expending energy on scoring new wins.
Be a Sniper, Not a Grenade Thrower
As in love, you just can’t be everything to everyone in business. Yet, Michael often sees many partners trying to do just that — casting out broad service offering nets to broad industry bases in the hopes of snagging more work. While this line of thinking seems logical, Michael suggests that it, in fact, does the opposite (I agree).
By trying to appeal to the masses, businesses dilute their messaging, which in turn leads to confusion on the client side. Instead, Michael urges partners to zoom in on a niche market or vertical and align their offerings to suit that niche like a sniper aiming at a target.
He further suggests that partners should work hard at validating their offerings through avenues like awards or certifications, such as classes on iCSU. These extra efforts can be quite effective at demonstrating a business’ worth to its niche clientele.
Be Valuable, Be Relentless
Customer loyalty is not won through a one-off effort — rather it takes ongoing cultivation and nurturing to achieve. To get there, a multi-channel approach (otherwise known as omnichannel) should be taken to ensure businesses remain visible to clients at all times. Think channels like social media, blogs, phone calls, meetings, emails, and newsletters.
No surprise there, right?
Where most fall short is that the content fed through those channels should be entirely focused on providing value to the customer. In other words, don’t make it all about you.
Instead, focus primarily on providing educational content, while sprinkling sales talk in here and there. By offering information that’s useful and targeted, partners can better position themselves as trusted advisors to their market. Trusted advisors are valuable, and customers will be drawn to that.
Be sure to catch Michael’s full interview over on the podcast where he shares some interesting ideas on using data to further differentiate.