How to get the most from your pipeline by tightening your positioning and rocking your first-call pitch

April Dunford, Author of Obviously Awesome
Read time: 3 minutes Close your eyes and imagine a Q&A session with not one, but two lovely hosts. Now, open your eyes. For this session, Joe was joined by the wonderful Diane Wiredu – a messaging expert and the founder of Lion Words. Diane spends her days helping SaaS and B2B businesses find their […]

Read time: 3 minutes

Table of Contents

Close your eyes and imagine a Q&A session with not one, but two lovely hosts. Now, open your eyes.

For this session, Joe was joined by the wonderful Diane Wiredu – a messaging expert and the founder of Lion Words. Diane spends her days helping SaaS and B2B businesses find their message market fit.

The pair interviewed the bestselling author of Obviously Awesome, April Dunford. April is a consultant and the world’s leading expert on product positioning. She has spent 25 years working as a VP of Marketing at fast-growing tech companies and launching 16 different products to market for businesses large and small.

In this session they investigated:

📞 The importance of the first-call pitch

⚾ How you can tighten up your positioning so that your pitch hits a homerun.

🔑 Making sure you make the most out of your pipeline
Watch the full webinar back below, or read on for the key takeaways.


🔑 Why is it important that we have clearly defined positioning if we want to get the most out of our pipeline?

April believes that positioning is often misunderstood as messaging or branding. She defines positioning as “how your product is a leader at delivering something that well-defined customers care about.”

It’s all about having a really succinct definition of:

  • Who you compete with
  • How you are different
  • The value you can deliver to customers that no one else can
  • Who is the best fit customer for your product
  • Which market you intend to win

You can’t do anything good in marketing and sales until you have that definition locked down. Then, you need to make sure that you don’t just apply that thinking to your messaging from a marketing perspective. You have to join the dots up with your sales team too, so the customer understands how you add value all the way down the pipeline.

📖 How can you start to translate your positioning into a sales story that you can actually present to prospects?

  1. “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.”

And to understand what a prospective customer wants, you need to think about things from their perspective. April shared stats that in B2B, 40-60% of sales purchase processes end in no decision. That means that the customer decided they needed something, went out and looked at the options, and then decided to not buy anything. When customers are overwhelmed with too many options, too many features, too many pitches, they lose confidence and fail to come to a decision.

  1. When you look at the data on what a B2B buyer actually wants in a sales presentation, you find that they’re looking for two things:
  1. A perspective on the market – tell me why you’re different 
  2. Help making a choice – what are the pros and cons of the different options

So, a great sales pitch needs to do some very important things. 

  1. Start with your company’s insight into the market. Explain how you look at and approach the market differently.
  2. Examine alternative solutions and run through the pros and cons.
  3. Can we get agreement on what really good looks like? Ask if the prospect is looking for the solution you can provide.

When you’ve set the product and the pitch up in this way, you can then say, here’s the value I can deliver that no one else can. You should always be trying to do as much of the work for the customer as possible.

April shared a specific example about a previous client of here, Help Scout – a customer service platform from 12:05.

👖 How much should you tailor those first-call pitches to the buyer’s specific problem? And is it different for service-based businesses vs product-based businesses?

April believes that lots of companies do ‘sales therapy’ instead of ‘discovery calls’. 

Remember that with any given product, you can only solve a specific set of issues, so asking your customers to list their entire problem list is just wasting time. Instead, focus on explaining how the market works, and offering solutions. A good discovery call is a two-way conversation. You should be trying to figure out their exact situation and also teaching them how all the different solutions work, and then showing how your product or service adds value. This is how you can get over the no-decision trap. 

😤 So often it feels like there is an Us vs Them divide between marketing and sales – how can you encourage sales to listen to marketing so that we can see more success when it comes to positioning?

April has been running marketing teams for a long time and is no stranger to sales teams ignoring everything she does. In her opinion the solution is four-fold. 

  1. Rather than complaining that sales don’t understand what you do, go over there and understand what they’re doing. Understand what qualification and discovery looks like for your sales team. 
  2. Work out what happens after a first-call for your sales team. Look at the typical length of a deal cycle and what happens throughout. When you understand what is happening on the ground, you can serve your sales needs better. 
  3. Involve the sales leadership team in the development of the positioning so they will have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for what you are trying to communicate.
  4. Once you’ve built the sales pitch, how you roll it out to the sales team is really important. First, you need to work with the sales leadership team on the pitch itself so that they agree it is good. Second, share the pitch with the best sales rep in the company and test it with them on qualified prospects. Iterate until you’re happy with the results. Third, get the leadership team and your best sales rep to share it with the rest of the team. 

🧑‍🔬 Is there a way to use marketing to test your sales pitch?

Earlier in her career, April would do positioning work, write messaging and then try to test the positioning through marketing channels like paid social. The problem with that approach is that you’re not testing positioning then, you’re testing messaging. And the two are different.

Testing live with prospects is the best way to test positioning. You will have more control over the factors at play, you will receive visual clues from the prospect, and you will come away with more insights as the customer-to-be asks questions and interacts with you.

🕢 If you were to spend an hour working on two specific actions to tighten up your positioning or your sales pitch, where would you start?

  1. Look at your positioning. Do you really understand who you’re competing with? How are you different? What’s the value you can deliver? Answer those questions.
  2. Once you have that, translate that into a sales pitch that fully communicates how you stand out from the rest of the market.

Say thank you to our co-host Diane here.

Check out and pre-order a copy of April’s second book here.