Virtually every entrepreneur is told that the key to success in a highly competitive marketplace is product differentiation. To Jason Lovelace — Chief Sales Officer for SPINS, the leading data and insights company for the Natural Product industry (and a Naturally Chicago co-founder) — differentiation is the very definition of the word “sales.”

Speaking at Naturally Chicago’s Friday Morning Mingle on December 13, Lovelace noted that everyone hears the term “strategy… I have a business strategy. I have a sales strategy. But what is the definition of strategy?”

“You could read all of these business articles and you can talk about strategy it comes down to one thing: Strategy comes down to differentiation,” Lovelace continued. “You look at entrants in the marketplace. How do you differentiate yourself in the market?”

And he concluded, “That, ladies and gentlemen is sales. Sales is differentiation. And so when you go to market, how are you differentiating yourself, your solution, your product? What is this solving for any of us?”

Jason Lovelace, SPINS’ Chief Sales Officer, delivered the presentation at the December 13 Naturally Chicago Friday Morning Mingle. Photo: Bob Benenson

Lovelace, who has a 25+ year career in sales, said he uses an acronym in training his SPINS staff, which has greatly expanded since he joined the company last year: SWWC, which stands for “So What, Who Cares?” Lovelace elaborated, “As you think about everything that’s out there in the marketplace, whether it’s a product or service or solution, what does that solve for? Why would I be interested in that? If I’m trying to sell a service, what is that service going to enable me to do?”

Besides “differentiation,” the keyword Lovelace emphasized was “perseverance.”

Lovelace stated that 98 percent of sales calls are unsuccessful. “Most people cannot endure that type of ‘no,’” he said. “Imagine if you hear no over and over. So it takes a very rare individual to sell.” He added, “2 percent of the time you receive a yes. And when you receive those yeses, you have to be able to celebrate those yeses.”

Noting that sales people need to “create buyers” (“Nobody knows they need to buy, you have to create that buyer”), Lovelace said follow-up is an area at which many fall short. He cited statistics showing that nearly half of sales people never follow up with prospects, and another quarter don’t get past the second of third call.

The room was packed on December 13 for Naturally Chicago’s final Friday Morning Mingle of 2019, featuring a presentation by SPINS Chief Sales Officer Jason Lovelace. Photo: Bob Benenson

Speaking in the voice of an unsuccessful salesperson, he said, “’I’ve talked to somebody once, I call them twice, I give up at that point.’” He added, “There’s the alarming part: 80 percent of sales occur between the fifth and 12th contact.”

Prompted during the Q&A by Jim Slama, CEO of FamilyFarmed and co-founder of Naturally Chicago, Lovelace gave his pitch for why entrepreneurs should obtain market data from SPINS. “Having SPINS data provides that key to business growth, and so that is our differentiation,” he said. “You’re going to be able to tell a story about how you can pivot and move. We provide you with a blueprint or road map to where you need to go, and that makes it that much easier for any business.”

The December 13 Friday Morning Mingle was the last Naturally Chicago event of 2019. The Mingles will resume on Friday, January 10, when our featured speakers will by Elliott Cohen and David Crooch of Parks and Nash. An innovative producer of instant soup cups made with bone broth, Parks and Nash won the Judges’ Choice Award at the Naturally Chicago Pitch Slam, held at the Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference in Chicago on November 6.

— Bob Benenson, Naturally Chicago