June 6, 2017 Ted Bauer

The real deal is value proposition

When you work with a sales team — either in-house or outsourced — oftentimes the people who write the checks, i.e. the decision-makers or stakeholders, want to see the deals closed. You know the whole love affair with Glengarry Glen Ross and “coffee is for closers,” or the movie Boiler Room with “ABC — Always Be Closing.” That’s what the top levels of a company often care about.

While this is important, it also totally misses the selling point.

The real deal is value proposition

It’s the real deal because value proposition is the way you close deals.

When people hire us, for example, most of the discussion around the contract is about closing deals and numbers. How many meetings can we make per month or how many new customers can we get per year? What can we do for revenue? Those are what the people with the ability to hire us want to know. This is logical.

Once we start a contract, though, it’s not just about the numbers. The numbers remain important, but here’s what we try and do as we work through various sales funnel stages:

  • Find out what the ideal target market (ideal customer profile) looks like
  • Explore who the buyer personas are
  • Identify customer benefits and values
  • Define the real product differentiators
  • Formulate sales messages
  • Deal with slide decks, sales pitches, and objection-handling

These items aren’t directly closing deals; for example, the ROI of a given slide deck is hard to prove. Rather, these items speak to value proposition.

Oftentimes a company will take a product to market because it worked in another market, or because the tech is solid, or whatever else — but they haven’t thought about the benefits, the differentiating factors, or the messaging. When you haven’t actively defined the value proposition, sales becomes a lot harder.

In that situation, customers often have to figure out for themselves why your product is better. Some will, but many won’t — and you’ll leave revenue on the table.

What do you think happens when we work to define the value proposition?

Do you think we get yelled at about the numbers?

No. (Well in some dysfunctional companies maybe, but those aren’t the clients you want.)

Instead, we get praised.

They love us for doing that. It helps them in other areas too — marketing, for example, product management, or hiring new people. They know the messaging to use to attract hires, which is often very similar to the messaging that draws in prospects.

Objection-handling is a big one too. When you’ve worked on or built a product, it’s almost akin to your child. You see it as perfect. But out in the marketplace, people will not see it that way; they’ll have serious objections, usually around cost (again, they don’t “value” your product enough) but potentially around other issues. When founders or people there at the beginning try to do sales, this can lead to defensive relationships. (“What do you mean the product isn’t good enough?!?!”). It often ends up with “that company simply didn’t understand that we are the better option for them.”

When an outsourced sales team works on objections as part of defining the value proposition, the relationships are managed much better — and the founders/internal team have clearer talking points. They often love us for this as well.

Big takeaway here: mind the numbers, yes, but focus on what you can do to define the value proposition even more.

 

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