I grew up in sales and marketing in major CPG companies in the ’90s. A time when it was de rigueur to write customer segmentation strategies in Great Big Decks…. presented in Great Big Meetings in hotels with second rate danishes and coffee cups that were far too small for the topic. My Great Big Binder, sat on my sagging shelf never to be referenced again. This is not because these segmentations were not thoughtful. I just didn’t have the time to translate it into something actionable. There was far too much invested in positioning and far too little invested in implementing with sales and customers.
This is the biggest challenge in considering doing value prop work. How can I slow down? Pause? Change how I talk to customers? Philosophy majors have the luxury of pondering existence because they don’t have a team to manage or a quarterly target or 12 meetings jammed into an 8 hour day.
I’ve been doing value prop work with multiple clients in the tech field and here is what I’ve learned about why it’s worth it as a way to power up every aspect of your sales effort.
WHAT A B2B VALUE PROP DOES FOR YOU:
A value proposition is the difference(s) you make against critical challenges your customers face. At its essence, the value prop process helps you to be immersed in your customer’s business and challenges. As such, you become much more relevant to your customer. As humans, we are far more interested and engaged in a conversation that is about us and our needs. When you listen and speak from your customer’s perspectives, you have their full attention and engagement.
WHY IT’S WORTH IT:
You will feel more confident that you are talking to someone who needs you. I’ve seen customer interviews of current customers and prospective targets confirm the direction of the sales prospecting strategy. I’ve equally seen those interviews lead to a change in direction to move away from prospects who don’t see a real value from the product or service. Either way, the value prop process gives you the confidence that you are talking to the right people.
You will have a team that is more successful and feels more successful… because they have fewer sales conversations that feel “spray and pray” and more sales conversations where their prospect is truly engaged. Even in situations where an engaged customer conversation doesn’t lead to an immediate sale, it nurtures your team’s confidence and motivation to make that next call.
You will get along better with Marketing. The value prop process really is a process that can bring together sales and marketing. I realize how that sounds…. A bit lofty and pollyanna – but the value prop process is really about marrying strategy and action. A value prop becomes the guiding principle and philosophy that informs both big broad strategic communications (branding, website) as well as sales strategy and conversations. The results are not just more targeted communication and better taglines on the website – it’s about how the sales team fundamentally does their job – from conversation to a meeting, from pitch to the proposal. It means that both marketing and sales are working from the same page.
You will feel like a god. Okay, maybe an oversell. Just a bit. But there have been times in my sales career when I have felt like I’ve had very little control over my results. When you know your value to your customer and are clear on the why behind the buy, you can better replicate it. You have a clear direction and understanding of what you can do to create results. It gives you a sense that you control your destiny… because you do (-ish..as much as anyone does).
WHEN NOT TO DO VALUE PROP WORK:
I have come across a few instances where I would advise clients to put a hold on value prop work:
Don’t do it if you do not have a meaningful difference vs. competitors. You don’t have to be better, but you do have to be different. If you can’t find this difference, I would hold off on initiating the value prop work until you have found some meaningful differences.
Don’t do it if you don’t have the time to implement it. This is essential. True value prop work includes a complete sales rollout 1) qualification and discovery training 2) relevant sales tools (e.g. ROI calculator, marketing content, pitch deck revised for value prop, etc.) and 3) lots of practice and application to bring the value messages to life for different customers. The organization is the most motivated and excited to implement this as soon as the value prop has been established. If for some reason you are not in a position to act on the value prop insights, then hold off on doing the work until you can. Strategy without execution leads to no results… and you do not want your value prop to end up as a Great Big Deck sitting on a shelf.
TIPS FOR GETTING A GOOD START ON A VALUE PROP:
Have a structured process. Without a structured process, value prop work can risk being overly introspective and directionless. If you are doing it yourself, make sure you have established a structure and process and select someone on your team to relentlessly hold everyone to that process. If you are hiring a consultant, ask them what the structure, process, and timelines will look like. See below for our Portage value selling process.
Include people that can make a meaningful contribution to the conversation. It is important to have representation across the organization in order to get buy-in. But resist the temptation to be inclusive for inclusiveness’ sake. Big tents get crowded, stuffy, and too noisy to hear individual voices. Be mindful of including only those that can push the conversation forward.