Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Think Executives Are Purely Rational Decision-Makers? Think Again.

桐岛永久子A myth has long swirled around the topic of executive decision-making, and it stems from the broad and untested perception that executives are strictly rational agents—logical and analytical in their approach to business decisions.

Now that we’ve put that premise to the test, we can also put that perception to its rest. Because it’s not true. New research from Corporate Visions reveals that intuitions and emotions have far more sway over the executive decision-making process than many sellers—or executives, for that matter—realize.

The study—which had 113 executive participants from a wide array of industries, including software, oil, finance and aerospace—yielded many unexpected findings about how much emotions influence executive buying decisions. Perhaps most compelling among them was the idea that you can provide executives with the exact same “math” with respect to a business proposition, but get significantly different results depending on how you frame the situation.

Specifically, the study tested the principle of loss aversion, an idea pioneered by social psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, which says that people are more willing to make a change or seek a risk to avoid a loss than to acquire a gain.

The study revealed that executives, across both personal and professional scenarios, are not exempt from this principle. 桐岛永久子

Words trump math!

Purely rational decision-makers executives are not! To learn more about the study and its findings—and what implications they may have for your message development and delivery—check out this article in CMO.com based on the research we did with our partner, persuasion expert, Dr. Zakary Tormala.

Read the article here.

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Why the Best Story Wins

Why do customers choose you?

That’s the question we recently asked the market, hoping to get an idea about what factors actually create differentiation.

So, what is it? Products? Price? Brand reputation?

How about none of the above. Nearly two-thirds of respondents ranked sales conversations as the most important factor in creating competitive differentiation. That’s nearly 20 percentage points higher than product quality/innovation, ranked as the second most important factor.

The implication is clear: Great customer conversations come down to a great story, and the best story, told the best way, wins every time.

A great story stems from an awareness that your prospects are resistant to doing something different from what they’re doing today. In other words, your biggest enemy isn’t your other competitors, but your buyer’s status quo. That means marketers and salespeople need to develop and deliver a “why change” story that gives prospects a pathway to change that’s compelling, actionable, and—most importantly—can help them overcome the business challenges that are hurting them today.

Below are four steps to help structure a great “why change” story across your messaging, content and skills – one that guides prospects on a pathway to a new and safer alternative to their current situation.

  • Step One: Lead with an Insight – Tell your prospect something they don’t know about a problem or missed opportunity they didn’t know they had, revealing inconsistencies or uncertainties in the way they’re doing business today. This is the basic idea behind a messaging approach based on “unconsidered needs.” Research from Corporate Visions shows that this approach—instead of the traditional “voice of the customer” approach, where you respond only to the needs your prospects tell you they have—can give you a statistically significant advantage in the area of differentiation.
  • Step Two: Disrupt the status quo – Show your prospects why their status quo situation is unsafe and untenable. Highlight visually—ideally, with a whiteboard-style presentation—how sticking with the status quo could prevent prospects from realizing their most crucial business goals.
  • Step Three: Tie your prospect’s unsafe current situation to a “new safe scenario – You can do this by depicting a contrasting pathway that resolves the issues you’ve identified. That resolution point is key. Research from Corporate Visions shows that creating risk around your prospect’s current situation isn’t compelling enough to incite buyers to change. To make your message actionable, you need to link the factors that make their current situation risky with a resolution alternative that can solve these business challenges. The Corporate Visions study shows that you can make a bigger impact on the factors that drive buyer action by delivering a story that resolves the risks you’ve identified.
  • Step Four: Prove it – Finish your story by highlighting a comparable scenario where you helped another company find a “new safe” through your solution. Once again, if you’re in the field, create a sharp visual contrast between the pain that company was experiencing in its status quo situation and the value and relief they gained by switching to yours.

For more on how to tell a “why change” story that disrupts the status quo with principles rooted in decision-making science, check out this eBook at http://cvi.to/SellWithScience

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Friday, June 17, 2016

CVI Perspectives: ‘Chunking:’ Why Everyone is “end to end, innovative, and world-class”

By Rob Perrilleon, VP Consulting, Corporate Visions

In my last post, you heard about the Curse of Knowledge, and how it can lead to overly technical language that confuses the audience. There iScreen Shot 2016-02-25 at 10.25.52 AMs another communication trap where you think you are using clear, easy to understand business language, but the message is as unclear to the customer as the technical-speak.

When we talk to clients about their differentiation, certain terms come up almost every time: “comprehensive (or end-to-end) solutions,” “our experience and expertise,” “focus on client’s success,” or “our people.” These are not complex or technical terms, so why are they still meaningless to the customer? Ask yourself, do any of your competitors say, “We have limited capabilities, we’re new to this business, we hire anyone with a pulse, and we don’t really care about your success”? Of course not! Everyone makes those claims, so they all sound the same to the customer. What’s interesting is how passionately most people defend those empty statements. “I know, but we really mean it!” is the typical response.

So what’s going on here? Why do people want to make these claims, even when they admit that they don’t convey any differentiation? The answer is a term called “chunking,” originally coined by the psychologist George Miller. Miller established that humans have a fixed number of slots in working memory to store information. Chunking is simply combining pieces of information, so they occupy fewer slots. Anyone who learned to remember the names of the Great Lakes with the mnemonic “HOMES” chunked five pieces of information into one.

Chunking works great in communications, but only when both parties understand what’s being chunked. The question “Can you give me a ride to the airport for my 6:00 flight?” has a lot of chunking going on. How do you get to the airport? How long does it take? Is there traffic at that time of day? How far in advance do you need to get there? Depending on who you’re talking to, the original question may be fine, but some people will need it all explained to them.

And that’s the connection to those meaningless differentiation claims. I have no doubt that the person who says “end to end solutions,” is not only sincere, but also has a very clear picture of what ‘end to end’ means, how that differs from their competition, and what value it delivers to the customer. The problem is that the customer doesn’t have that depth of knowledge, so they don’t know the underlying chunked information, and all that meaning is lost on them. Recall one of the key principles of the Curse of Knowledge: Most people will overestimate how much their customers know about them.

How do you overcome this? Just like with the Curse of Knowledge, don’t overestimate your customers’ understanding of your capabilities. Then, ‘unpack’ some of that chunked information. Even better, draw some contrast to your competitors. For example, instead of saying “end to end,” try something like, “Since A, B, C and D are so interrelated, it’s important to get them all from one place. You’ll only get in-house capabilities in all four areas, fully integrated, with successful implementations, from one place – us. Other providers have gaps, or rely on third party integrations, but that’s not the end to end solution you really need.”

It’s a little longer, but it means a lot more than just “end to end.”

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Webcast: Sales and Marketing Content That Challenges the Status Quo

Did you know the types of insights mScreen Shot 2016-05-23 at 9.26.21 AMarketers and salespeople feel are most effective are exactly the opposite of the insights they believe their companies are delivering in their marketing and sales content?

It’s time to reverse that trend and start delivering the types of distinct, forward-looking insights that make the biggest impact on positive selling outcomes—and help you defeat your prospect’s status quo.

Join Tim Riesterer and Jamie Shanks (Sales For Life) as they discuss how to create messaging and content that smash engagement benchmarks and compel prospects to consider doing something different than what they’re doing today.

Date: Tuesday, May 31  

Time: 2 PM EST / 11 AM PST

REGISTER HERE: http://cvi.to/InsightsWebcast

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

CVI Perspectives: Two Things a Salesperson Never Wants to Hear—and How to Respond When You Do

By Conrad Smith, VP Consulting Services, Corporate Visions

Smith04We see you as a commodity.”

Ouch. Painful words after years of great service. The first time I heard a customer say those words, I was indignant until I realized how they saw me was far more important than how I saw myself.

Take a discerning look at your competitors and yourselves. There’s probably a lot of sameness. Change is a lot easier when your customer sees your product or solution as the same product or solution they can get someplace else. Take a look at your products and solutions through your customer’s eyes. How does your product or solution interact with your customer’s business? What ideas can you bring to improve how your product or solution affects inflection points and latencies within your customer’s business? What if you could improve the order to cash flow for your customers? What if you could reposition your solution to bring value not only to your customer, but your customer’s customer? If your customers believe they can buy your solution and products somewhere else, it’s incumbent on you to sell the value that you bring beyond the product and service.

“It’s not you, really, it’s me.”

Of course it’s not you. It’s never been you. It’s always been the customer. A mistake that a lot of salespeople make is losing focus on the customer, and particularly, the right customer. It’s very easy to become complacent with your day-to-day, long-term relationships. These relationships are fed by the status quo. These are the people who need your product or service and they give you the next purchase order. You may be surprised to find out you haven’t been having the right conversation with the right person. Quantifying business value means measuring the impact that your ideas are creating for your customer. You need to have that business conversation with the right person in the organization who understands and appreciates the business value you create. This means more than making sure that your product or service delivers to the specified requirements. This means going beyond to measure business impact created and expanding relationships to make sure that people throughout your customer’s organization know that value has been created and quantified.

After you create great ideas that drive improvements throughout your customer’s organization, and after you quantify those impacts and communicate them to the right people, the process will start all over again. Your customers are far more likely to remember any part of the relationship that did not go well than they are to remember the value you create. Being consistently focused on bringing new ideas, that are all about your customer and their business, and making sure the right executive decision makers hear those ideas, are ways you can do your best to make sure you aren’t on the receiving end of the call that ends the big relationship.

Good luck and good selling.

To learn more about making a compelling business case to executives in your existing accounts—and about making an impact in new ones—check out this short whiteboard video: http://cvi.to/ElevateValue

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