The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 9 months ago

Do You Have a Competitive Edge?


You don’t know when it started, but you’re pretty sure you’ve reached a point in your business where you’ve stopped growing. Much like that ill-fated folk duo you started in college, you’re going through the motions, but you’re stuck running on fumes (and not the kind your audience reeks of). If you need to gain an edge, which approach do you think is more effective: being Simon or being Garfunkel?

Whether you’re a folk musician or a B2B Executive, you’ll never get ahead by being second-best. That’s why today I’m speaking with Jose Palomino, Founder and CEO of Value Prop Interactive and host of The Revenue Throughput Podcast, to find out how to hone the competitive edge you need to cut through your rivals and win consistently.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • What a competitive edge is and why it matters
  • Why many companies already have an edge they’re unaware of
  • Why you need to really know how your customers think today (and not 15 years ago)  

Now that you know how to hone your business’s competitive edge, are you ready to learn how to use data to prevent revenue leaks in your business or build trust and confidence with your content strategy? Check out the full list of episodes: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for B2B Revenue Executive Experience in your favorite podcast player.

You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies, were tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone, need to be revenue executive urience. I'm your host, Chat Sanderson. That we're talking about how beat to be executives can create a D for companies. The grosserls margins short and sales like does an increase lead flow. To help us, we have with US Jose Palomino, founder and C of value prop interactive and host of the revenue through put podcast. Because I thank you so much in time and welcome to the show. No, my pleasure, Chad, thanks for having me. Yeah, so we like to start with a question at the beginning to help understand a little bit better, and I'm always to know those that only know you in a work in man what is something that you're passionate about that might surprise them? Yeah, that's that's an interesting question, because I tend to live, I try to live life so much transparently so I think if people work with me long enough they pick up on these. But but you know, certainly I'm passionate about my relationship with my family, passionate about our spiritual health as a family, because it's not just it's not all work, you know, is not all play either. There is you know this. We want to have lives of meaning. And I'm also passionate about British cop show. So I love that. took a left turn. Okay, for some reason I just I actually subscribe to you know, we've cut the with cable cutters, right. So I subscribe to like a Brit Box. I get luther a line of duty. M I five it just it's cool. So good binge watching, very, very cool. All right, well for sharing that with us. So let's start with kind of an understanding of what it means to have a competitive edge. I know you've got four dimensions that competitive competitive edge, and would love for you to shift the odds. Sure. So, first of all, you know, just to I like to bring it down to like the most basic meaning. Right, it's how you win. Right, and in the metaphor I use, and I think it's just it. It always connects with people once they get it is the Olympics, right. So, like the most appropriately named person ever is u saying Bolt Right, what a name for a guy was like fastin alive and but what's fascinating is he is the fastest hundred meter runner ever and yet he wins on average his you know, even when he's like, you know, crushing the field, he wins by fractions of a second. And what's fascinating about that is that the end of his victory, when he crosses the line, they don't give him a fractional gold medal, they give him the whole gold medal. He earns the whole thing. Well, I think about that for a moment. So, you know, sometimes we read about things in business and we think we have to invent like we have to like become the next big thing, we have to be the next apple to be successful. But you know, if you're like running, if you're small...

Om and you're running a fifteen million dollar operation, success for you as you found another three million dollars of growth. That's twenty percent growth. That's significant. That will go right to your bottom line if you're an owner operator. So to me, a competitive edge is those little things you do to win consistently, you don't necessarily have to lap the field, like you say. Bolt doesn't lap the field, but he crosses the finish line before the other guys. And it's the same thing in business that when you win the deal, whoever came in second, if they were five competitors, they like first losers. I mean, I mean, and sounds harsh, but it's the reality is you get nothing for coming in second place. In most competitive situations where you're vying for the business, you win or you go home. And in the worst thing is you know you have the debrief call with the customer who did not choose you, and then you know the boss asked you. In the case if you're like part of a sales team, you know how did it go, and so only say, Oh man, they told us we came in really close, they almost chose us. But you don't say okay, you not much, you can do it that. So so I look at you know all the different things you have to do to win consistently and they generally will fall into and what you know. I guess we'll talk about this a bit more, but you know, one is just the clarity and the power of your valley proposition, like are you bringing something in a way that's meaningfully important different to your customers? Are you delivering against it right? Because you can make a lot of promises. We all see companies that. We've been a business long enough to know that this, you know, what's on the brochure isn't necessarily what you end up receiving. And then do you have, especially in bdb, do you have marketing that actually generates leads for you, like actual appointments, opportunities, or does it create a lot of vanity stats, you know, like, Oh, you know, our website just you know, we have twice the viewership we used to have, and it said, yeah, but the the following that anybody fell out of form. And last but not least, and I know this is like you know your world in a very significant way. Are you effective with the opportunities you get? That's the ultimate place your edge has to show up, is like you have to be very good at converting the opportunities, because opportunities are tough to come by. ME, people aren't people. At least I haven't run into a business yet where customers just say hey, you know what, I'm just going to give you more money. Doesn't usually happen anyway. So you know, it's a big answer to a very straightforward beginning question at chat, but that was us. That's how I'd like to answer. It's how you win and really thinking through the dimensions of how to edge out your competitors, even by a little bit. Because if you crossed the finish one before they do, you get the deal. Day Don't, and that's a win. I love it. And so if we were to look at panties and their performance, are there ways to eally identify if they do have a competitive edge? It may be. Yeah, so a couple of things right. One is, you know, I would always ask an owner or leadership team, you know, are you winning more than in your fair share? And...

I say what does that mean? You know our fair share. We'd want to go with them all. But the simple example is if you're always competing, let's say in a four bid or three bit situation, are you just winning your proportionate share mathematically? So, if it's a four bit, are you winning twenty five percent of the deals? If you are, that means you're just good enough but not not really edging out anybody. Right. I mean one and four. That's like, you know, it's like what the say, a million monkeys type of would eventually write Shakespeare, you know, or anything number of monkeys, you know. So you want to say, am I doing better than that? Am I winning tough deals? If you, if you, if you can't remember a time when you want a tough, competitive deal, then you don't have a competitive edge. The other thing is, do you are you getting the kind of pricing? Let me say differently, are you able to hold your line on pricing, or do you find that you always have to make price concessions because, frankly, the market still seeing you as kind of a commodity? And then, lastly, you know, are you getting even in bound inquiries because people think you're meaningfully different like that, you're on the hot list of people they have to talk to because of the way you're offering, what you're offering. And so okay. So one we think about, you know, those companies that may have lost the competitive it was, the flint to that commodity trap where they are constantly counting or not, you know, being able to communicate their value prop effectively. What are they what do they do to reverse it? I mean, is it reversal. I mean I got to believe it's reversable, but I can't believe it could beusy easy. How do they how do they go about netted focus, a shift and focus? And what you're doing? Is it revamping product, nervous offerings? How to fix it? Yeah, I mean there's a lot of things. So you know, first thing I like to say is, you know, identify if you if you have a competitive edge, but also some things that could also be clear tells that you've lost it. And then this it within that as a seed of kind of how you solve it. So if one if your sale cycles are lengthening right used to take you sixty days. Now it takes you it seems like a hundred and twenty days to get a response, so people go radio silence on you more often than usual. Now, I understanding the times we're talking right now. There's a lot of craziness in the market, supply chains and all that stuff. But let's talk pre covid and then think about a future, hopefully in the not to distant future, where the world kind of shifts to a true post covid reality. But sale cycles. A sale cycle. You should know what it should take you to two you know, on average from hello to a decision. If that's lengthening on you, if it feels like it's just stretching, that's one thing that would tell you, okay, you have a real problem. And of course, if you're not with a brand new customer, we have to bring your price down to win the business. But even worse, your largest customer that you've been doing a lot of business with over the last several years. You realize it seems like every year they want another five percent concession, and I've seen it a lot with contract manufacturers. have to sell like too larger ems and so on, and it's always at other five percent. Eventually you run out of five percent units to give away. I mean it's a pointed become real money right and of course you know you just drinking your top line or you can't move your top line. You just... can't move enough sales. And he is where it comes out. It's like an emotional sense. You feel stuck if you're the leader of you're the CEO, or you're the head of sales, head of marketing, and he's saying like it seems like nothing we do is making any any movement or so this is where to the second part of your question. What do you do about it? Well, and I do believe in almost every instance you can do something to sharpen your competitive edge, even and especially in commodity categories. And I know it's counterintuitive, but here's the deal. Everybody competing with is also in the commodity category. They have the same problem. So, like if you're even slightly decommoditized right in some dimension, I'll give some examples of that. But when you do that, you actually will stand out. And it's kind of like, you know, I visited my wife's family years ago and from Central America and I'm not tall right by American standards. I'm like five eight right, but they're smaller still there. Okay, so, like I was walking down the time it was like how tall you aren't the you wout what perspective. It's all about like the context, right. So it's the same thing. You just got to be a little bit taller, and so you have to sharpen your value proposition, right. So what does that mean? You know that that word gets UES. That's not a tagline. It's like saying, Hey, do I really know who my best customer is. And here's the best part. Do I really know the problem I saw for them? Well, I haven't really been asking that question maybe for years. I haven't really dealt with that. But what it and what's the cost of the problem if I don't solve it? And then what unique value do I bring to that? So I'll give you a real world example of this. Work with client years ago. They say they delivered home heating oil. Right, that's the very I mean. Talk about a commodity. It's literally a global commodity and for people don't live in the northeast, they don't. They say, he know people still heating the homes or oil? Yes, they are quite a bit, but it's a declining market. So what do you do? How do you differentiate that? You the oils, the oil. Well, as I dug into it with this client, I realized that they had done something to reduce their overtime expenses, which is they had sharpened the software, the algorithm that the entire industry uses to estimate when a homeowner is going to need an oral delivery. Pretty simple mathematics based on whether and pass utilization. Well, the industry does about ninety five percent accurate delivery. In other words, ninety five percent of the time they'll know when you need more oil. The other five percent you're calling, Hey, my house is getting cold, hurry up. So this company wanted to eliminate the overtime that that engender, that that brought about on Saturdays and Sundays and evenings and so on, and they got themselves a better algorithm. And I asked him. I said, well, how accurate is it? And he said, well, last year we did sixtyzero deliveries and we only missed nine. I said not nine percent? He said no, nine. So that, if you do math, is ninety nine point nine, nine nine. It's not quite six sigma, but it's like for sigma whatever. You know, it's a for nine. So I said, have you told anybody? So? What... you mean? I said, well, let me ask you this. I said, if you let somebody run out of oil, would you be willing to fill the tank for free? They said, well, it's sure, you know. And so here's what happened. We said others make promises, we make guarantees, and we did a no run out guarantee that if you signed up for automatic delivery with us, we would guarantee that if we ever let you run out, we would fill the tank, which is like three hundred gallons, I like, you know whatever, Orl is like, you know, four, five, six dollars a gallon. So the result of it for a business was this. They ended up attracting the higher end of the market, the more demanding side of the market that didn't want to ever tolerate not running, not having oil right and as a result they enjoy roughly, depending on the year, thirty to fifty percent greater margin per gallon than any of their competitors. Now, they did nothing else. I've got to pay attention to Yah, you got to figure out, you got to pay attention to where that competitive advantage comes and so it was an all racial advantage. It was something they did. Yeah, reduce all over time. They were already doing it. That's the thing. They were already doing it. And many companies are in that exact position. They doing something smart. They just haven't seen the implications that has for the customers they're trying to serve. And so, okay, so that's a situation where I'm in a commodity market and I've got to figure out, you know, I got to figure out where my competitive advantage is are. There was were things companies should do. I want to proactively design and deployer coupit eventage or is it something that really comes out of you know, have I at least my Gtim? I know what going to do and then I'll figure it out. Where can I be be proactive about it if I've already have an existing business? Oh yeah, I then the single most proactive thing to do is talk to customers. And I know that sounds so basic that people saying, well, wait to say we talk to customers every day. We know they call us. We did customer service. We have salespeople? I said, none on us. That's that's engaging with customers in a transactional context. I'm talking about really talking to customers and then asking them this simple question. What in out? Let's say you're basic, broad category, right, so if you sell jet engines, you're not going to be talking about cleaning services, right. So look, whatever it is, but you just say hey, what really, you know, I really take what ticks you off, and I don't mean about the product. Let's assume all jet engines help planes fly, but what about dealing with the companies and so on. Do you find frustrating? What irritate you? And again you say, well, not every cusps. I want to talk to us about that. And said, well, hopefully, if you've been in business for any length of time, you can come up with five or six or seven customers that will have that conversation with you. Don't turn it as an Opote, don't don't try to pivot that conversation into a sales call. Make it very clear, look, I really want to know I want and then do it regularly. Now you could do more regular like voice of customer work and so on. This you know firms that do that and do a good job of that. But I'm saying even those five or six calls. And now I'll tell you chat. I've worked with a lots of owners over the years and I'll and they usually were the ones that, like started the company and had a lot of zeal. They talked to you know, they were hustling nonstop and it's still working very hard. But I...

...asked them this question. When's the last time you had a candidate like let your hair down, conversation with your customers about how they're doing, what's happening in their world, what their business looks like, what frustrates them about your category. When's the last time you had that conversation? And it turns out and it and it won't surprise you when I tell you this. Nine out of ten times I say well, well, and then look down at this shoes, you know, kind of moment. Well, you know, and it's like ten years ago, fifteen years ago. So the first step to proactively designing anything is really make sure you have a handle on your customers and what matters to them today, not when you start at the company twenty years ago, thirty years ago, because then you just living on fumes and you've run into you know, you started something, if it was good, if it was exciting, you brought on competition. Other people came in, hence to come out of tizing effect right, more players are involved. They're all trying to go after your lunch, and so maybe you have some good long term relationships that carry your business, but you're not growing because you're not really really thinking. You haven't given any fresh thought, the kind of fresh thought that got the business launched in the first place. But you haven't done that in ten years and your salespeople even a VPM, marketing, VP of sales. They're they're trying to live in the here and now. They're not asking this question, as it really is an important thing. Chad, to just take a step back, take a look at it, talk to customers. That's not the whole thing you have to do. So I doesn't fully answer your question, but I'd say everything that follows follows that. Love it all right. So let's pivot here a little bit talk about value, prop interactive. Hope the audience understand your journey to found the company a sure. Well, you know, after a twenty plus your career arc mostly in technology, you know it software, computers, and starting out on the technical side, moving into sales and marketing roles. My family and I we moved to the verbs outside of Philadelphia. So I will tell people I'm a New Yorker living outside of Philadelphia, because you as a New Yorker, you know that's then. Ever goes away, always, it never goes away. So that's you know, I was born and raised in Washington Heights. I mean that's that's you know. So New York is still, you know, a dominant part of my thinking and how I look at things, but when we came down to this area, this is about fifteen years ago, I said, you know, I've been looking at the world and the World I've been involved with some very big companies and a lot of entrepreneur all ventures to and I see a disconnect between the process of coming up with strategy, with marketing and sales. Those three things are to they treat you like this separate things instead of you know, if you think about like a concert, this different instruments that make different sounds, but they have to play together to make music, and that's what I saw was missing. So I took a year off. I interviewed about a hundred business leaders, some very big company, some very medium, some small, just to see if what I was thinking was necessary made...

...sense. And that became actually the genesis from my book value prop the for the firm, for the methodologies we use, and then ever since then, just working it and and you know, I have a real heart for the owner led business. It's different than corporate and I love you know, I have, I have clients over the years that are corporate oriented, but the owner is the one that actually lose literally. You know that that that that try question what makes you loose sleep at night. Well, they loosely, but I over things like payroll, over like the credit line. You know, it's real. So it gets really real. It's not like well, if I don't do well, he I'll just land another Gig at another large company. It's not. It's disaster. Right, it's disaster. So so I love helping people who what at stake is that their lives, and that's something has really been enjoyable for me to help them, you know, through that process. Awesome. So let's Change Direction here a little bit. We ask all of our guests two standard questions towards the end of each in read. The first simply, as a founder and CEO, that makes you a prospect for a lot of people, and so I'm curious to know when somebody doesn't have a trusted referral into you, there's no connection any other way. What works for you and somebody's trying to capture your attention and earn the time on your calendar. Yeah, I want to hear something that sounds first all, that's clear, like tell me what it is you do and use plane language to do it right. So with somebody says, you know, will create two synergistic opportunities for your opportunist to future or something like that. Don't say you know. They kind of lost me at that. Yeah, it's like, come on, like, what are we doing here? Right, tell me if your leg and service, tell me Your Legan Service. If we REDO websites for Seo optimization, that tell me us what you do. So and then I want you to show me, explain to me practically how you go about working with somebody like me. I like to know that you have a complete solution. Right. So there's you know, they tend to fall for small businesses. They tend to fall into will show you how, or we'll do it for you or we'll do it with you. You know which of those and that's good language to use if you're if you're aiming for the small to mid market, that will resonate a lot. And the last thing is, don't make the budget a mystery. Right, I don't. I don't mind the swag budget saying look, our service were run between, you know, ten and twenty thousand, between two thousand a month and four thousand. That's okay, I understand this. Details. We have to talk about it, but I don't want to go through too many hoops because I need to know and it's a well, you know, if, if, if we help you get one deal and that's worth Fiftyzeros to you, then why do you care how much it costs? And people try to sell that way, and I understand you do sell to the value. I do. I've made my whole career doing that, but at some point people still have a gut check. What can I really do? And it's a real thing and you're not going to go up against that with the narrow I argument and say, listen, just mortgage your house and pay for the service. That's not realistic. All right. So last question. We call it our acceleration in sight. There was one thing, one piece of advice you could give...

...sales are marketing profess that you believe if they would help them hit works, their goals will be mhy. Well, it's going to be a little doubling down on a comment I made earlier in this inter you chat, but this is how I like them to think about it, and it's this. You don't really know your customer until you know, and this is the thing I wanted to visualize, how they your customer would talk about their business to a lifelong friend at the bar. In other words, if you're selling to John Smith, visualize what would John Smith tell is good friend Tony when they're commisserating at the end of a long, hard week, at the end of the long are they and in talking about their problems, when they really being real? What would what is most on John Smith's mind, if you can zerm in on that and you can provide solutions for that, and you know some. I think Jay Abraham calls it the bleeding neck problem. Right, somebody has a bleeding neck problem. You say, listen, I can I can sell you a little band aid, not that helpful, all right, or I can do something very a significant intervention in stitches. Right. So what is their bleeding neck problem? And I see too much in marketing with people put Nice looking you know, certainly the esthetic, the graphics, and I believe in I think things should look good and they should look sharp and they put words that are very lofty and in be to be especially, you cannot sell be to be the way you sell B Toc BBC. You can do just do it. You know, the real thing, things that are just evocative of a thought and a feeling. In be to be. It has to be more grounded to okay, what are you really doing for me? And so I would say to that marketer, to that sales professionals listening, just say really visualize and think not how that person would talk to you, because they're going to be guarded, your vendor. You're such trying to salm something. How would they really talk about their problem to somebody they really trusted, who had no no hidden agenda of getting money from them? They just would tell him the truth. What is the true truth of what their issue is? If you can serve in on that, then everything else you do you just throwing darts blindfolded at the dartboard. Yeah, love it all right. WHO's it is? There's interested in talk to you more about these topics, learning more about that hop interactive. We're getting a book. Where would you like us to send them? Sure, just two places. One, they can always visit a company site, which is value propcom va, lue pro opcom and if they want to connect with me on Linkedin. Made it real easy. All that to do is go to Jose poulominocom and I'll take it right to my linkedin page. Love it excellent. I can't thank you enough for being on the show today. It's been an absolute pleasure mine to thank you Jack for having me. All right, everybody that does it for this episode. You know the drill be to be REV exactcom share with your friends, family co workers. Until next time. We have value selling associates witholding with the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience.

To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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