Selling the value of what you do in business is one of the most challenging areas for many salespeople. There is so much to consider:
- Who is my target market?
- What is the proposition that I am offering?
- How do I get meetings with busy business people?
- I’m an Account Manager and I’m looking for ways to sell higher and deeper into organisations
- How do I break through the ‘SMADD’ disease that clients and prospects have – that’s ‘Sales Message Attention Defecit Disorder’!
- How do I get more referrals?
- How do prove our worth to an organisation so we don’t have to compete on price?
- How do I get clients to value what we have done for them and stop switching suppliers?
The good news is that I am about to share with you 3 core components of value that you can use in your business to help you with these business challenges and more. The best news is that very few sales people and businesses operate successfully proving 1 level of value, let alone all 3.
Let me introduce you to the ‘Value Bullseye’:
1) Value Hypothesis:
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The value hypothesis is the outer ring of value. This is when you are on the outside of an organisation trying to get in, breaking in to new divisions, or trying to create a new project within an existing client.
Here you must use research to determine whether you can probably derive some benefit for them. You don’t know for sure yet because you do not know enough about the organization or the particular business initiative or business pain that the company is facing.
This is not to be confused with an ‘elevator pitch’ which can come across as a trite generalization of what you do. This is a very specific hypothesis of what value you can specifically add to that organization. An example could go like this:
“John, you should be capable of reducing your stock holding of your entire widget range by 60% through the ability to use our demand forecasting software to know precisely what inventory is required to within a 10% tolerance rate. This will require an investment of £320,000. Which could be returned within 11 months. We recently implemented a similar solution at Major Corp PLC who achieved a 70% reduction and payback within 9 months.”
A t the very early stages of a discussion this is only a hypothesis because you do not know enough about their business and without the right kind of conversation, at the right level, and therefore validation it is only a value hypothesis. You will rarely win business selling on a value hypothesis!
It is only the start of the process and without the questioning and investigating skills needed to get validation from the client and prospect then it will never be a true value proposition.
2) Value proposition:
This is where your Client or prospect, is describing how their business operates, where the dysfunction and costs reside and what their vision is for an alternative way of doing things. This is what you use to map your capabilities with what you discover to articulate your value proposition.
Executives in large organisations give feedback that few, if any proposals, make them sit up and go
“Wow, I really love what these guys are proposing”
….and very few if any actually propose anything.
More they are no more than page after page of price lists and capability statements. Rarely is there a personalised story that tells the names of stakeholders, the challenges they face, the goals they own and an overview of how those tasks and goals will be affected by a new solution. They want specifics of the value hypothesis turned into the reality of what can and will happen specific to their business. Asked why they feel they rarely see this type of value proposition executives answered that salespeople are too intent on getting their message across without asking the questions needed to identify the core basis of a value proposition.
3) Value Statement:
The value statement is the single most important part of the whole process and yet very few people do it. Is this an opportunity in your marketplace?
One of the core principles of sales has always been trust. People don’t buy from people they like, they buy from people they trust.
One of the greatest ways to build long lasting trust and credibility is to show you have delivered on what you have said you would. This is even more important when selling to large organizations because research shows that senior executives generally get involved at the project scope phase (value hypothesis) and post project review (value statement). The value statement is simply proving the value of what you said you would achieve:
“John, we said we might be able to reduce your stock holding of your entire widget range by 60% and infact now the system has been live 3 months we have seen a reduction of 75% with a prediction tolerance of 7% . Your investment of £320,000 is on track for full payback in 9 months and not the 11 months we originally planned.”
If you can continually prove the value of what you have done then your credibility will go through the roof. In effect, you are closing the sales loop.
So my challenge to you then is “How well do you rate on the three stages of the value bullseye?”
Let me know you are alive and have a point of view by leaving a comment below, and share your experiences here too