Ever heard of Frank Sinatra? Think about your answer very carefully – only one is right. In his ‘New York, New York’ there’s a line:

“If I can make it there,

I’ll make it anywhere”

What Sinatra meant here is that anyone who can achieve success in New York can do so anywhere else in the world. That very line gave birth to one of the most powerful techniques of building company credibility, especially service one. It’s all about delivering something extremely difficult and spectacular first. It works ’cause only a few can deliver difficult and spectacular things – that’s why it will be hard for your competition to copy that technique.

Once you are done with the difficult part and you delivered an impressive project, all you have to do is communicate it. If you did well, people figure that you will most definitely be able to handle their problem – you have delivered it before already. Immediate credibility. And since problems are goldmines – the more difficult the problems we solve is, the more we get paid. If you’ve got Sinatra test (for example you can dramatically improve app ratings on appstore), you can make a one-slide presentation, have a Board Member present it at a conference and make everyone’s jaw drop.

Story of one auction

Imagine that European Central Bank launches a call for tenders – they’re looking for someone who will transport several dozen kilo of gold from London to Frankfurt. ECB’s prestige is on the table – the bank which loses such a cargo will lose trust. It’is obvious that the official making the decision doesn’t want to be the one accountable for choosing logistics company that was robbed. Ensuring him a sense of security then will be key to win the contract.

European Central Bank is a public institution, so price and experience will both be relevant as well while considering the parties involved.

ECB announces the auction, offers start flowing in, the bank’s official schedules meetings with salespeople. Usually, their arguments look like this:

We have bulletproof trucks

We have bulletproof tires

All our drivers used to work in special forces

We have 50 years of experience

Our transports are 100% insured

Typical salespeople talk about features of their products or services they’re selling. What, however, would a salesperson armed with a good Sinatra test say?

“During the second war in Iraq, FED hired us to transport gold and dollars all over Iraq. Our trucks covered 3500 miles in warzones. We’ve never lost any of our cargo during those 7 years”

“If I can make it there,

I’ll make it anywhere”

Features of the product

A salesperson with a good Sinatra test usually doesn’t have to talk a lot about features of his product. Now, this salesperson is the reason why all potential competitors for this contract are in an uphill race. The reason why is Sinatra tests stand for results of what we’ve done from a client’s perspective. From here it’s really close to conclusions like:

“If they do not communicate the results of armor, tires, special forces behind the wheel, then maybe these features are not enough to ensure a safe transport?”

It is an excellent tool for hustlers in startups because clients usually don’t give a damn what young companies believe that they can offer. However, if we can show how our Machine Learning people made business results for a client – then maybe we will even end the meeting positively without explaining what Machine Learning is.

My experience shows Sinatra tests don’t work in organizational cultures which aren’t customer oriented. Customer oriented companies understand that clients don’t need a hammer, they rather want to have a driven nail. Or better yet, they want to have peace that this nail provides (‘cause you have finally hung that damn picture your wife nagged you about 27 times in the past 4 months).

Sinatra tests are always based on honesty and objective facts beyond any doubt. That’s why it’s really hard to deny an argument grounded on them. Arguments based on product features always have more holes.

Let’s stick to the EBC example. It is difficult to relate a successful transport with a particular product feature. No one can say “transport was successful because our bulletproofs tires didn’t fail”, because the driver, fuel and other factors didn’t fail either. Or maybe the transit was successful not because of any of the features but because the truck wasn’t hijacked this time?

Trust above all

Let’s check the mechanism in a company taking part in hundreds of auctions every year:

  • Salespeople equipped with Sinatra tests are more efficient than salespeople who focus only on product feature – which means they will win more deals than their competitors.
  • More contracts won by Sinatra tests salespeople means their organizations have a chance to generate more Sinatra tests. If their companies do a good job and use that chance, then…
  • In the next auction, salespeople with Sinatra tests will have a bigger advantage over their features-oriented competitors which means they should win even more often.

It’s a powerful strategy. Using this type of activities consistently makes clients realize that salespeople who communicate business results are more trustworthy – which is the worst possible news for sellers focused on product features. Loss of credibility can ruin a reputation of a salesperson and company. If we don’t trust someone,  it doesn’t matter what they have to say. But let this be your competitor’s problem, not yours.

Below you can find a few examples which will help you implement it in your businesses:

  • SLA: “You need an SLA agreement? With client X for 4 years we’ve had 99,9% SLA in his e-commerce which has 1 million unique users monthly. On free delivery days and Black Fridays, their CEO is the calmest guy in his industry.”
  • Software development: “We launched a product similar to your specification in 100 days. Here’s the case study.”
  • Conversion optimization: “We increased conversion rate in the same industry with the same software – but in a different country. Here’s the case study.” 
  • Algorithm optimization: “We managed to speed the algorithm up by 3000% while maintaining its precision.”
  • User experience: “We doubled the number of users who return after initial contact with the product.”
  • Multichannel trade: “That project generated 50 mln EUR in the first 36 months. That’s completely new revenue – We didn’t note any declines in any other channels we’ve been using so far.”
  • Performance Marketing: “Each $1 invested by our client generated $9,43 in revenue which meant 886% ROI.”
  • Branding: “After 10 years this brand is the most recognizable in the industry”.

In B2B, a brand is what people say about you where you’re not in the room. Most of our companies aren’t Volvo and we cannot build their brands on product features. But we can do it with Sinatra tests.