What’s in it for us?
The next four questions belong to the same group. And you can reorder them a little if you feel the need to.
These questions are “What’s in it for us?”, “What’s kept us from getting what we want?”, “How will this help us get what we want?” and “Why now?”
We’ve moved from the I and Me questions to the Us and We questions. With the first 3 questions, we cleared the first set of resistance barriers. Now we talk about the group, the organization, the customer’s company, for a bit.
A B2B sale rarely involves just one person.
Now, for “What’s In It For Us,” we’re mainly talking about Lockouts and Benefits.
A Lockout is something or some combination of things that a competitor isn’t likely to have. Or isn’t likely to be able to do. If you have a thing, like a patent, or exclusive distribution deal, that’s great. Be sure to point that out. But usually, a lockout is a combination of things conveyed in a story that another vendor won’t be able to say. Or a single thing that only exists because of a story.
Here are some examples:
We have more patents in this area than any other company.
That’s an obvious lockout. A Legal Lockout.
Here’s another example where a story creates the lockout:
Every few years. For every big wave of change in this industry, we completely rebuild our product from scratch. This is a big investment. We have to focus the company on the new standards. We end up letting some people go and hiring new people. All so that when the first customers are ready to move to the new standard, we’re there first. With the only product that’s 100% designed for it. We don’t just add to the old stuff. And none of our competitors can say that. The closest any of them come to it is buying a company with a focused product like ours. And if they do that, they have all the integration and indigestion issues you can guess they have. So everyone else is trying to sell the old, bloated product with some new features. But because we go through the pain and reorganization and investment, we always have a lean product. And we have it first.
Now, I want to pause here to talk about creating story lockouts. Maybe you have a story lockout in mind already, and if you do, that’s great.
But if you don’t, I’ll admit that story lockouts can be tricky to create if you’ve never done it before.
If you need to come up with one yourself, here’s a formula that works.
It’s a classic sales story, and marketing story, formula: something, and something, but something, therefore something.
Or, even simpler:
Fact. Fact. Obstacle or contradiction. Result or new reality.
So, an example:
Tonya worked at an ironworks company, and I came from hotel construction. Those were good jobs. But as two women of color, we found that the company structures made it impossible to produce the work we knew we were capable of. For the clients we wanted to work for. So we founded ACME, the only minority and women-owned custom welding firm in Spokane that does historic property repair.
That’s a made-up example, but you see how it follows the formula. Fact: the speaker and Tonya had jobs. Fact, they had good jobs, but not satisfying jobs. Obstacle or contradiction: they didn’t have the freedom to create the things they wanted to, for the type of customer they wanted. Result or new reality: now they have their own firm, and as a nice lockout, it’s the only firm with characteristics 1 and 2 and 3 in Spokane, Washington.
If you’re going to depend on a story lockout, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, it should be true.
Second, it should be interesting.
And Third, it needs to be used over and over. It’s your story. In your audience’s mind, it’s how they remember who you are. So, long after you’re tired of telling it, you keep telling it because it’s a key part of your business.
Okay, so that’s lockouts. “what’s in it for us?” is also about benefits. And benefits exist in the customer’s reality, not yours.
We ARE going to talk about features, in case you’re worried that you have all these awesome features and you won’t get to talk about them. But not until later, in a different question.
Now, I don’t have much to say about benefits, because I don’t know what your benefits are. Everyone understands that the customer gets one or more benefits from what we sell. I will say this, though. Don’t assume that you know all the benefits. They pop up in unlikely places. And if a customer has ever mentioned a benefit that you never thought of, consider using it. Or at least keep it in your back pocket. Because you’re not the judge of what the worthwhile benefits are. That belongs to your customers.