Your Best Response to Three Common Objections faced today!!

Hi Guys,

I can totally relate to the reality of the markets today…

Since 2008, its been an uphill task for us all in sales and more so for our wonderful marketers, and its sad to see so many good folks lose their dignity, their livelihoods and their reputations in the face of some real tough objections ( brickwalls) coming from their clients, some of whom probably swore to be by your side through thick n thin….but have gone away just and market sentiments tanked!!

So lets look at some very difficult objections that sales reps have been facing recently and what could probably be the best answer to address these client objections

  • Common Objection 1: “I can get it cheaper elsewhere.”Response: “In today’s world we can almost always get something cheaper.  I’ve found that when smart people invest their money they look for three things: the finest quality, the best service and lowest price. However, I’ve also noticed that no company can consistently offer all three-the finest quality and the best service at the lowest price.  Which two of the three is most important to you in the long term?”
  • Common Objection 2: “I have a friend in the business.”Response:“There’s an old saying – I don’t know how true it is – that sometimes friendship and business don’t mix.  If you bought from a friend you might not say anything if you weren’t happy with the purchase, but with me you can just get on my case until you get what you want.”
  • Common Objection 3: “I did business with your company in the past and they were unprofessional.”Response: “I can really appreciate that.  I really hate it when that kind of thing happens to me.  You know, though, suppose the shoe were on the other foot and it was your company that had acted unprofessionally.  You’d probably fire the person responsible. That’s probably what we had to do, and now it’s my job to make certain that you’re treated right.”

If you know of other common objections please do let me know and give me the opportunity to share some insights with you all.

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What is driving brand convergence today?

Media fragmentation, communication clutter in the markets, too many brands competing in an increasingly tight space at the top of the consumer pyramid ( leaving the BoP vacant!!), inability of the brands to penetrate the BoP markets….all these are reasons enough for brands to contemplate convergence- it may even be crucial to their survival.

Think of it as “collaboration” between brands, who are able to identify complementary and supplementary values that are logical for them to work together- leading to the brand convergence that we are speaking of.

The dictionary meaning of the word “convergence” varies from “the act of synergistically coming together” to “contraction” to “similarity of form and structure.”

So what are the prime drivers for brands to converge today- according to me they are the following

  • Primarily non-competing brands will clamor to get together in today’s tough times. For the competing ones, even though some synergies might be working at the back end, it will take further evolution till they converge in the consumer space unless of course the companies merge or brands are bought over.
  • The brands should have a similar Target Audience in order to contemplate convergence. This might be obvious to some, however the similarity should not end at the demographic level but also extend to the psychographics and buying behavior.
  • They should have similar brand appeal and perception. Each of brands coming together should only enhance and/or reinforce the basic image of the other one. In a sense they should complement each other in terms of the perception consumers carry about them.
  • The converged entity/product has to meet a genuine consumer need. Convergence for the sake of it will not just add no marginal value to the brands but a venture gone wrong can in fact erode brand equity.
  • The converged offering needs to have a unique value proposition, different or greater that the individual offerings. In a way the joint offering should be more potent than sum of all individual offerings.

The last point nails it! The essence of a successful collaboration (convergence ) is that the SUM is greater than the individual numbers that each brand brings to the table!!

Key attributes to becoming an effective marketer

  • Sales is your friend. The whole “natural tension between sales and marketing” thing is a dysfunctional crock. Sales owns the customer relationship. As a marketer, one of your key functions is to facilitate sales’ ability to sell your products. You need each other and your goals can and should be aligned.
  • Be patient with your boss and peers. Not coincidentally, strong leaders and managers often tend to be controlling individuals. That means they can become easily frustrated with things they don’t understand, i.e. marketing. Be patient and pay attention to their feedback.
  • Remember, you have way more customers than you think. The executive staff, your peers, product development, manufacturing, sales, finance, HR, employee communications, they’re all stakeholders in the marketing function. Treat them as such.
  • Bond with the development and product people. This goes way beyond educating and teaching. These are very smart people with a strong, vested interest in what you plan to do with their product. Bond with them, listen to them, understand their issues and concerns, make them partners in your “process;” it’ll pay off big-time.
  • Teach, teach, teach. Successful marketers are strong communicators and educators. Spend as much time teaching and educating internally as you do networking and meeting with customers externally. Again, it’ll pay off.
  • Measure and communicate results. The biggest slam on marketing is that it’s an expense black hole with no metrics to measure results. Be disciplined. Spend 10 percent of your budget on metrics for key programs and take the time to communicate results – both good and bad – to stakeholders. Do it.
    • Listen, listen, listen. Most of your “brilliant ideas” will come from others – internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your “process.” Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It’s a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
  • Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn’t mean waste customers’ and sales’ time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you’ve got something important – from their perspective, not just yours – to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It’s invaluable.
  • Get close to your competition. I don’t mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events – they’ll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don’t bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
  • Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I’m not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
  • Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It’s easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don’t do it, who in your company will?
  • Listen, listen, listen. Most of your “brilliant ideas” will come from others – internal stakeholders, vendors, and customers. Make them part of your “process.” Your job is to actively listen and then crystallize these gems into product and corporate strategy and positioning. It’s a real skill to learn, but it starts with listening.
  • Get out and visit customers. Balance internal focus with external focus. That doesn’t mean waste customers’ and sales’ time to suit your agenda, but meet with customers when you’ve got something important – from their perspective, not just yours – to discuss. Ask open, leading questions and listen to their feedback. It’s invaluable.
  • Get close to your competition. I don’t mean study their products, I mean get close, really close. Introduce yourself at conferences or other events – they’ll be there. Get together from time to time, have lunch, whatever. They don’t bite. Just remember to learn more than you share.
  • Be accessible to the media. PR and the media can be an incredibly powerful tool, but like all tools, you have to learn to use them properly or they can work against you. I’m not saying be reactive; it should fit into your overall communications goals, strategy, and messaging. Creating a buzz is an art form; just look at Steve Jobs and Apple.
  • Make key vendors part of your virtual team. If you pick the right vendors, they can be tremendous strategic resources, since some of the most capable PR and advertising people have their own firms. To benefit from their knowledge and experience, bring them into the fold. Make them part of your virtual team, just like the rest of your staff.
  • Be visible, network, attend conferences and events. It’s easy to become too internally focused within the four walls of your company. You can lose perspective and start to breath too much of your own fumes. Get out, network, meet people, and bat some ideas and concepts around. If you don’t do it, who in your company will?

Solutions marketing in Flexible Packaging Industry

The definition for Solutions Marketing is given as “A combination of products, services, and intellectual property focused on a specific business problem that drives measurable business value. The solutions components can be from either the vendor or one or more partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer itself, or a combination of the three.”

I was recently introduced to this definition by Mr. Steven Hurley, MD of Solutions Insights Inc., a renowned marketing professional and practitioner of Solutions Marketing, erstwhile director of the ITSMA ( Information Technology Services Marketing Association), former Director at Arthur D’Little management consulting group and my Professor of Solutions Marketing course at the HULT International Business School, Boston.

As the information and knowledge sank in and my understanding of the subject was relatively better, I started to connect the dots between what I am learning in class and what I have practised as a sales functionary in the flexible packaging industry in India and Nigeria.

It was almost an epiphany in class when I substituted the key words in the classic ITSMA definition with those from the flexible packaging industry and started to see a connection. This quick analysis is appended below ;

A combination of products (Flexible packaging laminate, pre-formed pouches), services (Art work development, printing plate development, gravure printing drum development), and intellectual property (Lamination technology, knowledge of multi-layer laminates, Knowledge of materials, chemicals and adhesives) focused on a specific business problem (Client’s specific challenge in developing the right packaging for his product that meets his product performance requirements) that drives measurable business value (Customer saves in economic value terms by using less packaging material, through down gauging, superior barrier with innovative materials).

The substitutions are given in bold type.

The classic definition ends with a concise explanation of how the inter-stakeholders relationships are woven together to provide the framework for a successful solutions marketing initiative- and it goes like this: ”

The solutions components can be from either the vendor and one or more partners, and the solutions implementer can be the vendor, the partner, the customer itself, or a combination of the three.”

With this definition I drew a simplistic version of how the solutions marketing initiative would work in the flexible packaging industry, which is depicted in the insert.

I would request you all to ideate on this and to comment with your thoughts on this.