How ISVs, systems integrators and service providers can reach their customers is changing. As Jacco van der Kooji, founder of B2B sales organisation Winning By Design, said at the Sales Hacker London event: “People don’t want to be ‘sold’. People don’t respond to emails and cold calls anymore. People don’t like to be torpedoed. I don’t work like that. And I don’t think I’m the only one!”

Now more than ever, providing organisations need to push forward with advanced levels of service and personalisation to really get to the heart of their customers and what they need. The most effective way of doing that is to build a storyline filled with moments that matter. As van der Kooji puts it: “Moments that take place in time shape a story. People’s children are born, people get married, their football teams win championships. What if we can tell those stories to customers?”

Customers want to feel committed to their solutions, feel good about buying them (no more buyer’s remorse!) and feel satisfied enough to share their experiences and organically generate you further leads. To do this, there are four key areas for every organisation to cover:


  • Relevance: getting this personalisation right is key and customer expectations in this area have shifted hugely. Just having their name, job title and company to introduce yourself with isn’t enough any more. Instead you need to demonstrate that you’ve done some research, understood the target’s challenges, shared some relevant insight and invited them to learn more. In other words: do your homework!


  • Conversation: van der Kooji recommends the ‘TALKER’ strategy here: Tone of voice, Ask questions, Listen actively, Keep notes, Elaborate on key points, Repeat what you heard. Taken as a whole, these points demonstrate that it’s critically important to take an active interest in the customer’s needs, remember what they are and give them useful information and feedback based on what they’ve told you.


  • Diagnosis (not qualification): Forget the old BANT tick list of Budget, Authority, Need and Time. Well, not quite: you still need these vital bits of information, but the challenge is to try and obtain them in a different and more focused way. By establishing a ‘Critical Event’ and an impact of it – for example, a customer needs to deliver an analytics solution to a client by a particular date or they’ll lose that client – you’re better placed to deliver what your customer needs, when they need it.


  • Trading (not negotiation): there’s no space for negotiations or discounts when it comes to as-a-service providing. As van der Kooji rightly puts it: “Sure you can have a 10% discount…  what do you have to give me in return? Do you have two more customer prospects you can give me that would benefit from this service?” This is where you can arm your sales team with a list of things you can ask for when certain levels of discount are requested. This kind of trading also helps your customers feel like equal partners with you and can help breed a stronger working relationship.


These skills make a huge impact: according to van der Kooji, the best sales teams using these four strategies are finding they win nearly twice as many deals on average compared to the most amateur – and six times the monthly recurring revenue thanks to this ‘Compound Impact’. And it’s no coincidence that those amateur teams lagging behind are the ones offering the biggest discounts on their services.

In a marketplace as competitive as service providing, those little extra touches of personalisation here and there can make all the difference. And by building journeys like these, your customers – and you – can have a happy ending.


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