Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole

Simplicity Is the Key to Making Money

June 14, 2021 Robert Poole Season 1 Episode 78
Simplicity Is the Key to Making Money
Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole
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Growing Your B2B Small Business with Robert Poole
Simplicity Is the Key to Making Money
Jun 14, 2021 Season 1 Episode 78
Robert Poole

Have you ever looked at a business’s website and thought, “...what do they actually do?” Often, we assume our prospects speak the same language we do, and we overcomplicate both our communication and our solution, turning off a lot of prospects before we even have a chance to sell them. Listen to find out how to remedy and use communication to grow your business.

Show Notes Transcript

Have you ever looked at a business’s website and thought, “...what do they actually do?” Often, we assume our prospects speak the same language we do, and we overcomplicate both our communication and our solution, turning off a lot of prospects before we even have a chance to sell them. Listen to find out how to remedy and use communication to grow your business.

Hey everyone. It's Robert Poole with the Growing Your B2B Small Business Podcast. Have you ever listened to a doctor throw out a bunch of medical jargon and you really had no idea what they're saying? Unfortunately, we have a tendency to do the same thing in B2B. Let's talk about why this is and how we can avoid doing that and grow our companies fast.

Do you have a small business that sells to other businesses? If so you probably know that there are plenty of resources for companies that market to consumers or companies that sell to large and Fortune 500 type companies. But what about the small businesses in the middle who sell to other companies? Where do we go to get answers? How do we grow our company consistently while still keeping our sanity? That's the question, and this podcast is the answer.

If you're listening to this podcast, you're part of an elite group of achievers who aren't willing to settle for just a nine to five job. You're one of the heroes in our society, and you should be proud of it. Welcome to the tribe and welcome home.

Okay, everyone. I hope you're having an awesome day. In the last episode we talked about how we lose sight of the basics sometimes of building and running a business, how to prevent this and, how do we use this concept to actually grow our businesses? Today, I want to talk about a related topic and that's simplicity versus complexity. And first let's just get on the same page with what these mean.

In my mind, simplicity is basically breaking down a topic, a sales communication, a process, or a product into an easily understandable chunk or chunks that people can understand. Complexity is the opposite, of course, complexity is making a concept, a sales message, a script, a process, or a product difficult to understand by anyone not well versed in it. It tends to use big words and unnecessary steps in the process that really get away from the core result that we're trying to achieve.

You may have heard that quote. Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple. I had to look it up, but that's actually attributed to a guy named CW, I don't know how you say his last name, Ceram, C-E-R-A-M, but it's actually a pseudonym for a German journalist and author Kurt Marek. He used a pseudonym because he was a propagandist for the Nazis in World War II. So he may have been on the wrong side of history and maybe even evil, I don't know enough about him, but either way, I think it's a powerful idea and powerfully accurate. Other brilliant people in history like Einstein, they kind of parroted the same sentiment, and by all accounts, this is one of their super powers.

Why is simplicity so important? In business and B2B in particular, it's easy to over-complicate things, but the key to attracting more customers is having a clear message. If you have to take the time educating your customers in what you do, and it's not so obvious upfront, you're adding unnecessary complexity to your company. Anything that slows down either signing up new clients or onboarding them is costing you money, and usually a lot of it. Simplicity also takes a lot of stress out of your company for both you and your team, if you have one. If your solution and your sales message is complicated, you have to constantly stay up to date with changes in terminology and have to worry about your team not even fully understanding your solution and how to sell it.

And if it takes six months for you to train a new sales rep, you have a simplicity problem. Yes, I know that there are some technical items that a sales rep must understand, basic stuff, but a lot of times all that knowledge of a product or services, all it does is lower the results of a new sales rep. If that sales rep is you and you spend a lot of time becoming a "expert" on that product or service, you've gotten away where the emphasis should be, and that's the result that your solution solves. If we're in business to get our clients a specific result, and I think we are, I'm guessing you would agree that the faster we can get them that result the better off they'll be and the better off you'll be, financially and otherwise.

If we have a complicated system, process or too many extreme features that are the solution to getting the client's desired results, it's going to take a lot longer than both parties want and it's going to frustrate your clients and you're going to lose some of them before to get that result. This not only loses the immediate client, but it hurts your reputation when lost clients tell all their associates about their experience. Bottom line, there, aren't a lot of benefits to complexity.

The question is, why do we allow this to happen? I mean, we all want to deliver for our clients and make good money doing it, don't we? Well, like most problems that we approached, we have to figure out the why first, before we can fix it. It's the old, if you have a map but you have no idea where you're starting on the map, it's hard to get where you want to go, do in my mind, we can divide complexity problems into two categories, communication and sort of process service or product.

So what's communication? I think that's anything you do with interaction between ourselves, our company, our prospects, our clients, and our company and that sort of thing. Of course that entails a lot, but it's things like your sales message, language on your website, your marketing materials, your advertising, and so on. It's also things like scripts that you use for selling, even the language your team uses when talking to clients about customer service issues.

Why specifically do we make our communication complex? Off the top of my head, I think it's things like number one, our egos. Yes, I know that a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners are incredibly humble. Okay, so maybe you're like me and not so much at times. It's human nature to want to have what we feel is significance in our lives. In business it has to do with financial success and peer acceptance. In the back of our minds we sometimes subconsciously think that if we make something complicated, in the words we use and the terminology, that will impress our prospects, our customers and our colleagues. I mean, have you ever talked to someone in business and thought, wow, I have no idea what they're talking about or what they even do. Does that impress you as a person?

For me personally, it turns me off. I can see right through their fancy words and complicated explanations. And it tells me, they're either hiding behind big words and fluffy language so they can act intelligent or they don't care enough about the conversation to actually make it understandable. I'll give you an example. Have you ever been to a doctor and had them start speaking in all kinds of medical lingo? I think we all have, and I understand that people in that industry can understand each other, but when a patient goes in to see a doctor who, so to speak, talks shop with them, knowing they don't understand a word they're saying, does that impress the patient? Maybe, but probably not. I would say it frustrates a patient because the doctor might as well be speaking gibberish on a topic and it's an important topic, it's their health.

So the best doctors that I've been to over my lifetime and some of the most intelligent and highly educated, they do the exact opposite of this. When a neurosurgeon explains what's going on with a nerve in your neck and uses an analogy about a garden hose, I mean, you kind of get it and you respect and appreciate their education. When they start putting together a bunch of medical terms, you leave confused and not even really sure what's going on, or where you go? I mean, I personally think this is one of the most important skills for a doctor and it really shows true intelligence, like that quote we talked about, being able to break down a complex topic into simple terms that people can understand.

Unfortunately, we tend to do what the less competent doctors in this area do, particularly in B2B. We gear our sales messages and all our communication with prospects to include terms that we understand, and we forget that our prospect's not an expert in that area. I mean, otherwise they wouldn't be coming to us. Along the same lines, we feel like we need to impress our prospects with all of our knowledge and expertise. Unfortunately, using complex language and jargon does the opposite. Instead of adding trust we're taking it away and alienating some of our customers.

And let's be real. Our clients don't care about us, our education or how long we've been in business, and so on. What they care about is how we can help them solve their problem and can we be trusted to do what we say? Building that trust and showing them we can deliver for them, it's a whole different topic that we talked about in a past episode, but the point is using complex language to impress our audience is the opposite effect of what we want. Okay. So that's an ego thing and I'm not pointing fingers since I've fallen into this trap many times.

But another reason I think we try to complicate things is that we think it adds value in somehow justifies the price we're charging. This again is focused on the wrong thinking. It goes back to that old FedEx story I heard years ago, and many sort of rip off version since. But basically it was something to the effect of at one of FedEx's big facilities they had a major problem that shut down the entire sorting operation. Basically, putting them at a standstill. They didn't have someone onsite who could fix it and they were literally losing millions of dollars per hour by not being operational. So they called in an expert on the machine, who's charged, I think it was a million dollars to fix it or something. He walked in and switched a lever, a button or something, and then asked for his million dollar check. FedEx was happy to pay it, although some of the management was thinking, this guy was here for five minutes. How is that worth a million dollars?

The answer, again, comes back to results. Our customers are buying the results we're offering. They're not buying our time, so it doesn't really matter how much effort internally it takes us to get that result. If you're a consultant of some sort, you may be thinking, well, actually I do charge by the hour. Well guess what? Your client is still paying you for a result. If it takes you 10 hours to achieve the result, it's a fixed sum that they're comparing to somebody else. So let's say you charge 250 per hour. If they aren't confident that they're getting more than $250 in value per hour, IE results during that time, they're not going to pay it, simple as that. So just keep in mind that complication adds nothing to value.

Our clients want a result as quick as they can. And as simple as they can. If they can avoid complicated language that they have to translate into English just to sign up with you, you're going to lose sales. Actually, the last reason off the top of my head is why we tend to complicate communication, again, particularly in B2B, is that I think, generally, we deal with highly educated clients, at least higher educated it in the sense of business, but maybe not necessarily life. So we think more sophisticated clients want us to talk to them in more sophisticated and complicated language in our sales message and our communications.

One of the big themes that gets a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners in trouble, including me, is that we look at things from our perspective instead of our client's perspective. We assume that our prospects know what we do and about our area of expertise and the result that we're offering. But you think, if you go back to the neurosurgeon example, if you're a neurosurgeon going to a conference with other neurosurgeons, you can throw out all the medical terms you want and can have a great peer level conversation. But if you come back to the office and try to communicate with their patients like that, you're going to confuse and turn a lot of them off.

Yet, we as business owners and B2B do the same thing, we tailor our marketing messages, our phone scripts, our customer service, and every communication with the prospects, in terms of words and lingo that we understand, and we expect the prospect to get it. Our customers may have higher education, at least with business topics, than the average consumer, but they're still not an expert in our area, so we can't talk shop, so to speak, in our communication, assuming they understand what we're talking about.

Okay. So that's about how we communicate and the language we use, but what about the processes and the services and the product that we offer? Do we overcomplicate them and why? Based on what I've seen in the last 20 years with our company, SalesDouble, which does B2B appointment setting and lead generation, processes and service very quickly become complicated if we don't watch them.

And another question is why do we overcomplicate those processes, those services and those products? First, to pickup on the concept with the communication, I think we sometimes feel we need to justify our service or products cost and use complexity to do that. Sometimes we literally make our service or product seem complicated for the fear that our clients won't see the value in what we charge. And again, I keep harping on this, but our buyers are paying because they think they're going to get a specific result. They're thinking they can make more money, they can save more money, they can save more time, whatever your solution provides. If you sat down with them and ask them, with all things being equal, if you could guarantee the result they're looking for, do they really care about how you get it? Just like the FedEx example, no. And if they trust you can and will deliver on your promises and they'll get the results they're looking for, they won't get caught up in the actual how of it, assuming of course it's legal and ethical. They just want the result.

A common mistake newer salespeople make is to start feature barfing and hitting the prospect with all kinds of complicated information. One reason is that they're not using well memorized scripts, but two, they're nervous and they just start talking. By starting the conversation based upon features and benefits, you're literally asking the prospect to quit focusing on the result they want and focus on all the technical details. At that point the customer is confused and just trying to understand your process or your product. And then, let's say another competitor comes in the next day and says, "Hey, we understand your problem and we've got a great and simple solution that costs X."No wonder the prospect buys from the competitor instead of the original sales rep.

So besides feeling like we can't justify our prices without making our offering complex, I think the other big reason that we get overly complex in our offerings is simply time and modification. If you're in business for any length of time, you're going to develop internal processes and you're going to make modifications and "improvements" over time. While some of them may be justified and good, a lot of times we get in the habit of just adding to our processes and product and just think of that new cool feature and not necessarily because it gets results faster. I know we've fallen prey to that many times in our company.

I like to think about it like this, let's say you've got a car you bought back in the '80s. Obviously it's very old and the parts are going to continually wear out, as time goes along, you replace parts and as technology gets better, you probably add features, a better radio, at some point a new engine, whatever. You basically start piling on stuff, and sometimes just because you can, and not because it's changed the basic result of getting to a to Z efficiently. So it's easy over time to make continual modification and improvements that really have nothing to do and no effect on improving the results your selling. And we have to watch out for this one because it really creeps up on us.

So of course, that's a lot of whys, but where do we start specifically? I mean, ideas without actual steps are useless. The first thing we have to do is to identify where we're over complex before we even can fix it. I mean, let's talk about communication first. There are several things you can look at. I mean, we really need to sit down and kind of collect all the methods of communication, including your website copy, marketing materials, sales funnel copy, sales rep scripts, customer service FAQs, all that kind of stuff.

Once you have them, put them through, what I call, the grandma test. If you were trying to get your grandmother to understand what you're talking about, could she at least get some semblance of an understanding so that she'd have enough interest to ask more questions and go forward with your solution? Can Grandma look at your website and marketing materials and be able to figure out what you do within a few seconds? If not, you got a problem.

At our company SalesDouble, we deal with a variety of clients in different industries. And I can't tell you how often we look at a client's website and think, what is it that they actually do? And it's not because we're morons, because we generally have expertise in a lot of the industries that we market to. And so even with some industry knowledge, sometimes we have to pry it out of our clients to explain what they do because of the confusing and complicated language on their website. After a while we go, "Oh, okay. So you're just like so-and-so." It's the same thing, but they've made it in a very complicated fashion with their language. So if someone like us can't understand what your company does, I mean, your prospects definitely won't.

As you look at all this communication, other questions you might want to ask yourself, are you using technical babble that your customers may or may not understand? Let's say, what if a customer is new to the industry, they're not going to know all that stuff. It was kind of comical, the other day my sales manager used an acronym, which I've never heard of, being in B2B sales for 25 plus years. So it just goes to show, you can't assume anything. Are you using fancy words that the average person wouldn't get? Are your sales materials and scripts very long, which is another big identifier.

So first step, look through all your communications and isolate the problem areas. You may be pleasantly surprised and find that things are actually pretty good, but most of the time I've found, there's a lot of improvement that can be done for most of us. So what about your internal processes, your service, your product features? Again, you want to gather and document some of these things, if you haven't already, and then go through and ask yourself questions like has this processor or has this product's features been in place for a long time, like years? If it has, it's likely bloated and overcomplicated.

Are all the steps in the process or the features we have for this product necessary to achieve the result that our customers are looking for? Are your customers and internal team actually using the features or the steps, or can you dump them as unnecessary? Have these features or processes been revisited and evaluated in the last year or so? I mean, this process takes time and it's not going to happen overnight. However, given the amount of time saved and the money made or saved, it's worth the effort to go through this upfront, this identification phase.

So now that we've identified the areas that are kind of plugged with overcomplexity, how do we remedy this? I mean, it's like setting targets and goals or improving a skill, it takes time and it's only going to work with regularly scheduled time put in. We need to schedule ongoing evaluations and not just stop with that initial identification of the problem areas. If we fix them once and don't look at them again for several years, we're going to be right back where we started, so it's sort of an ongoing process.

In the area of communication, we want to go through these problem areas and make sure we remove any fancy words, spend time gearing our message to the customer and minimize chat about your company and how great you are and that sort of thing. Again, people are interested in what you can do for them, not you. Focus all your wording on the result you're promising, not the mechanics, not the features, so to speak. And use simple terms that someone who is on the outside or new to that industry can understand and skip that internal knowledge, that shop talk. Treat it like they know very little about it and don't assume they're understanding what you're selling. And then make your message simplicity universal and consistent, using the same terms and phrases on your website, your marketing materials and phone scripts, and even your receptionist should be well versed in it.

When it comes to internal processes, your service or your product, you want to evaluate areas by focusing, again, on the result or the function the process or feature gives. And you got to dump it if the result or process is not valuable and not necessary to your core business. So figure out what steps or bloat that can be removed, and streamline those steps.

Overall, simplicity is one of those keys to marketing sales and success and a sign of intelligence and not something that we should be embarrassed about or try to make things over complex just so we can feel good about ourselves. Get your ego out of the way and speak English. I think the key is regularly evaluating your processes and products and your marketing and asking yourself, is this step or this feature critical and necessary to the results we're trying to offer our clients?

So that's all I have for today. Thanks for listening and I'll talk to you soon.

Thanks for listening today. I hope you learned something that you can implement right away. I know your time is valuable and it's really an honor to serve you. Please subscribe and rate the show on your favorite podcast platform and give me your honest feedback. If you're interested in learning more about how to grow your B2B small business, please call my office at SalesDouble, which is 866-231-6776. Talk to you soon.