👋 Hi, I’m James. Thanks for checking out Building Momentum: a newsletter to help startup founders and marketers accelerate SaaS growth through product marketing.

Your biggest competitor is not another SaaS business. It’s not a spreadsheet. Not a person. Not an agency.

Your biggest competitor is what they are using today. Inertia.

They’re using a process that’s working. They’re spending a comfortable amount of money doing so. They’ve got buy-in, alignment on how it works, and they’re in a regular motion.

But your sales process, positioning, product strategy is all built around them embracing a new world. The promised land. The opportunity.

But… change hurts. Change costs. Change is disruptive.

You’re expecting them to implement a new product, pay more for it, pick up new processes, train their teams, get to grips with a new system… For what?

The promise of value in the future may shine bright… but is it enough?

How do you light a fire under their derrière, and get them to take action?

Four ways to drive status-quo dissatisfaction

Here are four approaches I’ve found useful to find new angles for positioning and messaging that touches a nerve.

Promote the pain

In your customer development, make sure you understand the broad problems your prospect is facing.

  • What’s the hardest part of their day?

  • What’s the hardest part about being a [job title]?

  • What are your biggest obstacles to winning?

  • What does losing at this look like?

Can you shadow them doing their day-to-day work? In a recent call with a prospect, we discovered every hire they made required 20+ hours of total work to process (excluding interviews). Times that by multiple hires… and it’s a lot.

Your prospects are likely spending unnecessary cash, time, and energy solving problems that you can dial up to 11.

Can you build a personalized business case that focuses not just on the expected gains, but on the explicit (money, time) and implicit (effort, impact) savings that customers achieve with you?

Can you highlight the painpoints in your topline messaging? Generally, people prefer to save over gain.

Intensify the risk

Inaction is not a positive experience for anyone. They still experience the pain and the problems they tried to solve, but the appetite for change is low – even though champions and users will be chomping at the bit to access new tech that can take them to the next level.

Organizations that need to play it safe will be less receptive to innovation and less likely to embrace new technology for the sake of it.

But they do care about the intrinsic risks to their business: reduced customer satisfaction, falling revenue, decreasing margins, negative press, and any challenges that arise from a PESTEL analysis.

Can you position some of your product value as a preventative risk reduction strategy? Can you show that your product reduces the frequency of severe events, reduces the severity of them, or reduces the occurrence overall?

Highlight the missed opportunities

What are your prospects missing out on when they don’t use your product?

  • What would winning at this look like?

  • How would this product solve your problem?

  • How has our product changed your life?

  • What has changed in the last 5 years that has made this much more valuable?

Uncover the opportunity costs, the benefits that could have been realized. This is not the same as the benefits they could gain.

These will often be linked to a company’s growth plans: revenue, customers, efficiency. But can you find the discrete, distinct occasions – the individual cuts that make up death by a thousand cuts?

Make it personal

Stagnation sucks for employees. Can you dial up the personal pains of the individuals involved and drive enough momentum in them to make change happen?

Users want to work less. Managers want to get a promotion. Directors want to build their internal company profile. VPs want industry recognition.

Can you take advantage of these desires, highlight the personal costs of inaction, and offer a solution that appeals to these fundamental motivations?

Tear their world apart to build it up

It’s not enough to just share a perfect, idealized vision of the world a customer enters when they buy your product. Unless you can convince them there is a burning need to embrace it, you’ll end up dragging them kicking and screaming over the line.

To drive urgency in your prospect’s world, you’ll need to give them something to worry about: highlight their current pains, intensify risks, highlight the opportunity cost, and make it personal.

Thanks for reading! Let’s connect on Twitter and LinkedIn, and let me know what you thought.

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