When Everything Looks Like Milk, You Need to Be Chocolate Milk
When I started my sales career in 1993, I learned a lesson about setting yourself apart in a commoditized market that stuck with me to this day. I got hired for my first career job as a photocopier salesman. At that time, the industry was saturated with players—at least 15 bloodthirsty competitors all vying for market share. I was in a sales boot camp, learning the ropes about the business and more specifically, how to be a sales superstar, and the analogy that my instructor used at the time made perfect sense. He said “when you go to the grocery store, do you really care what brand of milk you buy? They all come in the same cartons, the milk is all the same color of white, they all taste the same, and they’re all the same price. So does it really matter which brand you grab?” Then he gave us this gem: “That’s why you need to be chocolate milk.” We proceeded to spend the next 4 days focusing on the features that differentiated our product from the army of competitors, and all the associated sales tactics.
Does this ring true in the cloud backup space? It didn’t 5 years ago, but there were only a fraction of the competitors selling cloud services then. Today, if you ask a business to describe the differences between various cloud backup services, they will likely struggle with that answer. So as a service provider yourself, it becomes even more important than ever before to differentiate your offering so it stands out from the crowd. How do you achieve that? With the right marketing message of course.
What unique features should you stress?
• Personal sales touch
• Quality and availability of support
• Location of data centers
• Ability to failover live servers
• Industry verticalization
• Customer testimonials
• Reputation and stability of service provider
• Ease of implementation
Now it boils down to the basics. Take a look at your audience, determine which features (pick 3!) are the most important to them, determine how they best consume information, and set some goals that you can measure. When you’re choosing which features to focus on, it’s critical to do this from the customer’s perspective, not your own. What you think is important may not be important to them.
Complete this first step yourself. I’ve seen too many IT resellers lean on 3rd party marketing companies or the cloud vendors themselves to do all the marketing for them. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with getting help. In fact, if you’ve partnered with a strong cloud backup vendor, they can provide you with a plethora of marketing collateral such as co-branded slide decks and brochures, email campaign and webinar templates, etc. But most of their collateral zeros in on the features that distinguish them from their competitors (i.e. the other cloud backup vendors), not to the end user.
But you’re marketing to your customers, and the unique spin you need comes from knowledge and experience that only you possess. You are the best source to articulate this value proposition. Spending the necessary time up front to truly determine what makes your service special to that specific group will pay off. Then you can get the necessary help to fine tune the message and get it out effectively.
While you’re competitors are spending incredible time and effort trying to convince customers to buy their generic cloud backup services, you’ll win the business instead because you will have taken the time to stress the truly unique aspects of your service. You’ll have the chocolate milk.
Regional Sales Manager, Canada for KeepItSafe