Part II: Is Your Sales Funnel a Trash Can or a Treasure Chest?
What's Your Greatest Sale Ever?

Increase Sales by Defining and Selling to Your Sweet Spot

Jonathanlondon Today's post was written by Jonathan London, founder and president of the sales and leadership training company Improved Performance Group. He is a respected speaker, trainer, coach, consultant, and author.



One of the most important elements of sales success is to try and sell your product or service, as much as possible, where you have unique advantage or the strongest fit possible. This is your "sweet spot," where you will win most often.

The experience related below occurred more than 30 years ago but is as relevant today as it was then (if not more so).

My first job was selling Olivetti typewriters. (For those of you who don't know, a typewriter is an ancient device that puts pen to paper.) At the time, I was 22 years old and had no experience. My biggest competitor was IBM, who had approximately 93 percent market share. People would buy hundreds of IBM typewriters at list price and then store them, because they never knew when they would need one and were afraid they might not be able to get one from IBM in a timely fashion. It was a measure of prestige to have an IBM Selectric on your desk.

After panicking for about 90 days, I asked for advice from a more experienced and successful salesperson, who helped me see things clearly. He suggested that I look at what my typewriter could do that IBM's couldn't. He also suggested that I concentrate on industries and applications where these unique capabilities might be critical to business. That would give me an advantage over the almighty and powerful IBM.

So that's what I did. I had to make sure there was enough volume in these industries and applications to be successful, and that is all I focused on.

I became much more intelligent about how and what people needed in these industries or applications (architecture, finance, legal, etc). I learned the terms and acronyms they used and had many references, so I was much more credible. I was able to demonstrate and differentiate my product in a much more relevant way. The best example of this is when I presented my typewriter to an architecture firm that needed to create wide documents with symbols unique to the industry – all things that I could offer and IBM could not. The prospect needed many typewriters and asked me for a discount. I said I couldn't offer a discount (because I knew this was the perfect solution for this firm, and the value was a fair one). The firm ordered all the typewriters it needed.

By focusing in this way, I became the number one salesperson for four years in a row. Since then, I have applied this concept to every sales or management position I have had, with the same exceptional results. It has helped me through three recessions, and, as an entrepreneur, has helped me win business against my biggest competitors.

I have used this concept
    - to manage my sales teams at PictureTel, and we became the world's most successful sales team four years in a row;
    - in 2000, as president of IPG, to sell every major video, audio, and Web-conferencing provider, since clients needed my services to sell more;
    - in 2008, emphasizing my pricing solutions so people could buy my services more easily than the competition's.

Some examples of how my clients have used this concept:
    1. reselling and repackaging what was done for some of their biggest opportunities (research and analysis that they did internally) as unique offerings
    2. turning perceived disadvantages (not having as much technology or service as the biggest competitors, for example) into unique selling advantages or the right blend of benefits
    3. focusing all or most of their selling efforts on three or four verticals and abandoning efforts to sell in other industries

How Do You Define Your Sweet Spot?

You should define
    a. what your company's unique strengths are
    b. who your most successful clients are (what industries or applications)
    c. your own personal knowledge
    d. where you or your company tend to win more often
    e. where you are best connected or networked

Then choose the three (or four, if you can manage it) best industries and horizontal applications (sales, finance, etc.) that you should sell to. Then find the names of the companies that are the best fit for you, and enter their information into your CRM or buy the information from a company that supplies it (Hoover's, Jigsaw, OneSource, etc.). Most often, there are more opportunities than you could possibly cover.

Then go after them with a vengeance, and don't be distracted. This works and gets you the best results.

For more from Jonathan, visit his blog, Jonathan London's Real Advice.

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Thank you for your article, it is very useful, help to improve our sales skills.My view is that a good marketing technique is part of the business, and its success is absolutely necessary. In fact, the ability of the proper marketing of the product or service is actually more important than the product itself. Even inferior products, can be a financial success, if the sale is normal.

John E Flannery

This is a well thought out and written article. Once you have determined "a through e", have you documented this in a written, repeatable format? Having your customer(s) validate that process would also add credibility.

Once this is in place, Managers now have a more objective way of keeping sellers in line with the best qualified opportunities. Good selling to all !

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The ability to properly market a product or service is actually more important than the product itself.

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This is my first time I visit your site and honestly, your site are great site with contain a lot of articles or information that I have never know before this.My biggest competitor was IBM, who had approximately 93 percent market share. People would buy hundreds of IBM typewriters at list price and then store them, because they never knew when they would need one and were afraid they might not be able to get one from IBM in a timely fashion. I will subscribe and bookmark you blog/site because after this, it easier for me to come back and read new information that you post. Lastly, what can I said is continue writing on your site because I know this site have a good and great future. Keep it up!! Good work.. Thanks.

Miguel - negocio en internet

Great article!it made me re-think of new strategies for my marketing campaign. It is always very difficult to decide your marketing business strategies.however I work with companies that do not have unique strengths.

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Brian Auctions

I like your post, however I work with companies that do not have unique strengths, they employ a me-too strategy and it makes them hard to compete if they are not the ones offering the product for the lowest price. It's quite hard to market a company that doesn't have anything unique about it. Have you had any experience with this kind?

My bussines

It is always very difficult to decide your marketing business strategies.This article will help me to improve my business techniques
My point is that a good marketing technique is one part of the business that is absolutely essential to its success. In fact, the ability to properly market a product or service is actually more important than the product itself. Even an inferior product can be a financial success if marketed properly.

Samantha Lewers

Just by reading on your article, it made me re-think of new strategies for my marketing campaign. I'd like how you use the term "sweet spot", it's sounds profiting in a sense.

Craig Arnoff

Great article! Indeed, when the fit is good one's chances of closing are higher. Likewise, when the fit isn't good, I recommend simply telling the prospect that's the case. They'll either agree (and be thankful you were honest) or tell you why they're a good fit for you.

In any case, selling to your "sweet spot" makes good business sense---and you'll definitely sell more!

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