Your product or service doesn’t matter as much as you think

Your most important competitive differentiator could be your approach to engaging prospects.

A few years ago, the explosion of digital comms channels seemed like a golden opportunity. But today, multi-channel outreach has become a victim of its own success. With senior execs bombarded with personalised prospecting messages by email, phone, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Teams and other niche platforms, they’re more selective and critical than ever before of sales messages.

Navigating organisational decision making

In an effort to cut through, marketing and sales specialists have raised their game with personalisation. Emails and messages are almost always addressed by name, target an appropriate job role and build in mentions of the company. That’s now business as usual.

But to engage execs, we also need to be highly relevant to their genuine, researched needs and priorities. An opening line that addresses immediately recognisable priorities or concerns through an exec’s preferred channel could help to open the door. But the bar is constantly rising. And getting through the door is no guarantee that you’ll be allowed to hang around.

Why C-Suite isn’t the full answer

For years everyone’s been talking about access to the C-suite – going in at the top to get to the key influencer right away. As this continues to be more challenging with the shift in organisational decision-making, a more subtle and collegiate approach is emerging among digital sector organisations. Information gathering and engagement with the people who sit around the top decision-maker is a vital addition to C-suite focus, to hone a truly relevant and customer-centric approach.

Doing this exceptionally well through account-based marketing (ABM) that’s well aligned to your sales development capabilities can ultimately be your organisation’s winning move. If your product or service’s features provide your main differentiation, it’s usually not too hard for a competitor to replicate or even exceed them. But if you build a truly account-centric and highly personalised, relevant outreach programme based on a deep understanding of your target customers’ needs and interests, it’s far harder for a competitor to copy.

New strategy. New skill set.

Commit to a customer-centric prospecting strategy and you’ll need some good people to research accounts, build targeted messages and deliver intelligent and personalised contact and engagement that makes an immediate positive impact and follows through in a consistent and authentic way.

Here’s a counter-intuitive thought: the best people for that job might not exist within your team today. Excellent marketing and sales development of this kind is all about listening and understanding first, unpacking processes and issues and uncovering problems. The instinct of your own people is almost always to promote your products and services – after all, it’s what they know the most about. That’s why entrusting this vital activity to an expert third party (with a focus on identifying the problems you solve, more so than being expert in how you solve them) can put it into the safest of hands.

Or, if you want to develop this distinctive approach in-house, you could help your people adjust their mindset and develop powerful expertise through advocacy and training from an innovative ABM partner with hands-on experience in your sector.

If you’d like a discussion about differentiating through a holistic approach to executive engagement that’s unique to your organisation, I’d be happy to share my experiences.

David Meyer is Managing Director at Clarify and has over 20 years’ experience helping technology companies and scale-ups create sustainable revenue. Get in touch directly with