According to a number of research reports, the number one reason deals do not close is a sales rep’s inability to present value effectively. As Geoffrey Moore pointed out years ago in his book, “Crossing the Chasm”, Early Adopters and Innovators are enamored with features, but executives in the Majority make decisions according to their perception of your value in solving their critical problems. Clear communication of Value is required to sell to top level executives.
A Value Proposition is a concise (quantified) statement of the:
• Revenue Increase,
• Cost Reduction or
• Control Improvement
that your solution provides your customer.
If you can’t quantify the value you provide, you may not have a viable business that will survive.
Value Propositions answer these questions:
- What can you do for me?
- Why is that important to me?
- Is that more than I’m getting now?
- Is that better than I’m getting now?
- Is that sooner than I’m getting now?
- Does it cost less than what I’m spending now?
- Is it less risky than what I’m doing now?
Before I hold the first class session of my Stanford course on Cloud Computing, I warn the students (who are managers and executives at tech companies) that I expect them to be able to state the Problem They Solve for Their Customers in 15 words or less without talking about product features. I go around the class asking them to provide their problem statements and more than half fail the test. Product feature focus is a syndrome of many technology companies.
As this research report from Insideview.com shows, the top drivers of customer loyalty are reps that provide value.
At Growth Process Group, we use a proven process for developing clear Value Propositions. This is a simplified process diagram.
Achieving Simplicity is key. We begin by describing the Problem Solved from the customer’s perspective. Then, we develop Before & After views in simple graphical representations. We map Value to Pain by Title Type with a TCO perspective. Messages are crafted only after your Value Proposition development is complete.
The criteria for Problem Solved selection:
- View the problem you solve from the customer’s perspective
- Focus on customer pain
- Is it a differentiator (or “me too”)?
- Target Market size
- Importance in the customer’s mind
- Your credibility at this time
Here is an example of an Initial Problems Solved list:
- Rogue spending for Services is too large
- Companies need to reduce the total time spent sourcing services
- Reduce Cost of Purchased Services
- Gain benefits of existing system for Services
Procurement & Accounting
- Procurement-improve control over Service spending
- Total Cost of Purchasing Services is too high (manual process)
- Reduce Accounting Error & Rework Rates for Services
- Reduce Reconciliation Effort for Services Invoices
- Need to reduce the time & effort for Sourcing & Purchasing Services
- LOB Mgrs have to mend time reconciling invoices for Services Suppliers
- Purchasing can’t translate LOB requirements to Suppliers
- Enable ability to get desired services, but ‘in the system’
Often, the first iteration of such a list is too long and the challenge is to focus on the Problems Solved that are most important to customers at the current point in time.
This diagram shows a simple Before/After graphic we created out of a thick technical features document.
Transforming detailed descriptions of technical features to clear, simple statements is a talent that is rarely found in those who are closely tied to the product or service development. When I show this graphic to an audience, I ask: ”Who here does not get it?” No one raises their hand due to its’ elegant simplicity.
How often do you visit a web site to find a detailed description that does not express customer value?
Here is an example Value Proposition:
We Improve Customer Satisfaction, Improve Retention & Reduce Cost
• Churn reduced > 10%
• Support costs reduced > 30%
• Break even in < 3 months (including TCO) questions resolved in < 24 hours (vs. 60% took > 36 hours previously)
Notice the simplicity and clarity that results from very few words. Also, there are no product features.
The next phase of the process is to craft messages by title type (personas) based on the key interests of that position. Examples of the concerns of various executives are shown below:
- CEO‐Investor Relations & Share Price
- CFO‐Profits & Cash
- COO‐Productivity & Cost
- CMO‐Strategy, Positioning & Lead generation
- CSO‐Revenue Growth & Cost of Selling
- CIO‐ROI & Efficiency
- Users‐Great Functionality
- IT‐Ease of Support
Growth Process Group’s Value‐Pain Matrix methodology is used to determine which problems and messages are appropriate for each prospective title type. This often results in Aha! moments that reveal incorrect assumptions on who to sell to. We list the key Problems Solved for the Customer and the Title Types that should be involved as shown below.
For each Problem Solved-Title Type intersection, we assign attributes to each cell as follows:
- Which Title Type has Acute Pain for this Problem?
- Which Title Type has Budget Creation capability for this Problem?
- Which Title Type has Political Power to change the way work is done for this Problem?
- Which Title Type Owns the Problem (you would like to avoid selling across departments where possible?
Next, we find sweet spots that have all of these attributes in one cell and direct our reps to sell that Problem Solved to that Title Type (and not all of the Problem Solved). We find that when we do this, win rates go up and sell cycles decrease.
Here is an example of an in-process Value-Pain Matrix:
When we take the team through this on a several meeting, iterative exercise, AHAs! sometimes occur, such as the CEO says we have to get to (name your Title Type) when the that Title Type has none of the required attributes for any of the Problems Solved, or the reverse where she had assumed that sales reps should not approach (name your Title Type) when that Title Type does have all of the desired attributes for a particular Problem Solved and can be a great sales opportunity..
Contact Growth Process Group if you need to improve your rep’s ability to communicate value.