By Colleen Francis

Values Are Not About You
30 November 2017 | 9:55 am

“Why should I buy from you?”  

I am often frustrated by sellers defining their unique value in the marketplace when they answer this question. There are two problems I hear.

First, too often the answer is a predictable variation on “because we provide the best customer service,” or “because we really, really care about your business.” Or worse: “because we provide an integrated solution and like to establish partners in the market.”

These generic answers reveal a fatal mistake in how many companies think about their value proposition. They make themselves sound like their competition!

The second problem: too many companies create a laundry list of value propositions for sellers to use in each product pitch.

While many from that list include a good mix of features and benefits, they include so many that sellers only use a handful in their presentations rather than taking the time to choose the value proposition that’s most meaningful to the customer. Thus, sales presentations don’t resonate with buyers.

Your seller’s inability to align their value to what the customer values is what keeps closing ratios hovering around 30%. If you want to accelerate sales, you must communicate value propositions that speak to the customers and align them with what the buyer sees as a compelling reason to buy your product.

Listen first.

The only values that matter are the values that matter to your client.

Ride-sharing service Lyft and potash producer Mosaic Corporation each understands this. With Lyft, they promise convenient punctuality: “rides in minutes.” Mosaic promises to “help the world grow the food it needs. Each puts customer benefits ahead of features in the product or service they’re selling. They focus on identifying a need or a problem that the customer has, and on why their product or service matters to them.

They know this by listening to their customers and by not just running with whatever the marketing division generates on their own.

In my experience monitoring sales calls and listening to qualification process worldwide, sellers often forget (or are scared) to ask about value. It’s too bad, because this is an easy, and highly profitable questioning practice.

There’s a sequence of questions that have to be asked. They don’t have to be asked all at once, but you need answers to each point before you can make a winning presentation.

  • What are your objectives: what do you aim to do with this product or service you’re buying from us?
  • How will you measure success? What metrics will determine if your purchase from us has met your objectives?
  • What will you gain from a successful experience doing business with us? Not just as an organization, but personally.
  • How will you decide which proposals is the right one for you (if they have more than one provider to pick from)?

Deliver the promise with proof.

Once you have your answers to these (and you other qualification questions) you are ready to start formulating an offer that showcases how your products and services will deliver the value the customer stated they wanted. These are the ONLY value propositions to use.

Next, back them all up with proof.  A winning value proposition is only believed when backed with examples: case studies and testimonials that tell compelling stories about doing business with you.

Salesforce is a master of this approach. Every value proposition they use mentions a customer by name. Look at how they sell their app-building service Lightning in an online ad: “Accenture moves faster with Salesforce Lightning.”

There’s a direct connection being made between the benefit of a previous customer and a future one. Buyers like to see themselves in the proof you provide to support your claims.

Results say everything.

How do you know you’re on the mark with a refocused value proposition? When your closing rates go up. We’ve seen it in our own work: when a business’s value proposition aligns with their customer, their closing rate speed increases by 12% and their closing ratio improves by between 30% and 44%.

Invest time into looking deeper at your value proposition.

Get it right and you’ll be converting value into compelling new reasons for your customer to buy from you.

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