“Delivering Your Value Proposition” Is Not A Step In Your Sales Process!
Before going further in this article, stop for a moment and look at the steps and activities in your sales process. At some point is there something similar to, “Deliver value proposition to customer?”
Now a few of you may be scratching your heads–if you don’t have a sales process, you are in deep trouble. Do not pass Go, do not Collect $200, go immediately to Jail!*
For some of you, the idea might be phrased a little differently, it might be an aggressive, “Gain customer agreement on value proposition.” Usually, it’s toward the end of the sales process, as you are presenting your final proposals, and closing the business. Sometimes, you might see it earlier, perhaps in a prospecting or qualifying stage. Usually these value propositions are leveraged to get the customer interested in what you are doing.
Regardless if where it’s positioned, if there is some sort of step, “Deliver value proposition to customer,” as a key step in the sales process–you aren’t claiming the value you should.
As I discussed in, “Throw Away Your Value Proposition, It’s Meaningless,” the concept of value proposition has been distorted over the years. It’s been reduced down to a single event, a crisp set of sentences, that encapsulate our value in a way that is supposed to get the customer to immediately pull out a pen and sign a PO.
Marketing spends a lot of time articulating value propositions. They put them in web sites, on collateral, train us in how to deliver them in a compelling manner. Yet, when we compare the value proposition on our web site to those of our competitors–there’s little difference. We’re all bigger, better, faster cheaper than the alternatives.
Value is something we develop, collaboratively with the customer, through the entire buying process, and well into implementation.
It starts from the very first contact we make with the customer. As Jim Berryhill, of Decisionlink, points out, we may deliver a very generic, undifferentiated value proposition in our very first contact. It only needs to be good enough to engage the customer in an initial conversation.
But starting with that conversation, we continue to define, develop, build, communicate, and co-create value in each interaction with each customer involved in the buying process. Through the process, we constantly seek to learn what each individual values, we seek to help them through the buying process in ways that are meaningful and impactful to them. We continue to create and build value with every engagement.
As the customer goes through the buying process, their concept of “value” is not static. It’s not isolated to a single, “This is the value we create for you ……,” moment. But the value is captured in how we engage them, how we help them discover something new, how we help them understand opportunities, develop a sense of urgency in addressing them, evaluate alternatives, and develop a recommended action plan.
Periodically, through the process, our progress and our value creation may be summed up in some sentences–based on where we are with the customer at that moment. It might be, “This is what we have accomplished in this meeting, here are your priorities, here are some things you could achieve, here are some next steps we might explore in assessing them.
At some point in the process, we might develop a business justification, presenting it. That justification is sometimes called a “value proposition,” but it’s just part of the value we are creating and communicating as we engage our customers. At some point, perhaps in a final presentation, we might present some benefits a customer might achieve in implementing our solution. They may be “hard,” (quantified) or “soft.” Perhaps they address specific issues for an individual, perhaps they address the collective issues of the decision making group. But this is just one stake in the ground for our value development, creation, and delivery.
As I mentioned, through the entire buying process and into the implementation process we are creating value. It is never the same for each individual, and it changes as we progress through the cycle. It’s our obligation to make sure the customer understands the value we are creating through this process. Trying to reduce it to one sentence, trying to sum it up with a crisply defined ROI, eliminates the majority of what we have done with and for the customer.
- It has eliminated the value we created in giving them insights to discover new opportunities to grow, improve, or change.
- It has eliminated the value we created in helping the customer understand their current situation is unacceptable, that they must change.
- It has eliminated the value we created in helping the customer learn (and we learn) about what might be done, how things might change.
- It has eliminated the value we created in helping the customer understand the risks associated with the change, developing plans to avoid or manage those risks.
- It has eliminated the value we created in helping the customer manage their own buying process–aligning diverse personalities, agendas, priorities, motives, and needs.
- It has eliminated the value we created in helping the customer develop a plan to sell their management on the change, gaining their support.
- It has eliminated the value we will create in helping the customer implement it, perhaps accelerating their ability to achieve their goals.
Reducing our value to a single sentence, brings us to the same level of our competition. It tells the customer, “Evaluate what we have done with you and what our competition has done with you, based on which sentence we each produce, and which is most compelling.
When we identify a specific event, or place in our sales process where we isolate value and present it in a single sentence, we have told the customer to forget about everything we have built with them, through the entire process.
Don’t cheat yourself or your customer of the opportunity to recognize the full value you create.
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