“No business buys a solution for a problem they don’t have. When a prospect comes to the table and says: ‘We have a problem’, then you’re both on the same side of the table when it comes time to solve it. On the other hand, if they’re at the table because you’re persistent or charming, the only problem they have is: How do I get out of here?”
– Seth Godin (International speaker and author of 17 best-selling books)
Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Would you trade your time if you thought it would be wasted? Would you sign off on a product you don’t believe you need or a service that’s irrelevant to you and your business?
No sale can progress without all of the necessary customer commitments – and to obtain those, first you must capture their attention and then hold their interest.
That is why strong value propositions are fundamental to sales. It is essential to connect with clients by focusing on their needs – through the lens of their business segment, industry or function.
A compelling value proposition can transform a one-dimensional interaction (an introduction of yourself and your company) into multi-facetted opportunities for your client to share their challenges with a partner who has the ability and desire to help them propel their business forward.
VALUE AS A CATALYST
The strength of your value proposition is the catalyst that attracts buyers and progresses them through your sales funnel.
In a sea of competitors offering similar solutions, punting a ‘features and benefits’ narrative or using outdated or tenuous pitches, strong value propositions differentiate you from your peers. They connect with prospects, contribute to higher deal volumes and help companies defend their price.
With an ongoing pandemic as a backdrop to business uncertainty and a recession, non-essential spending remains in lockdown, and so demonstrating value (and by inference, relevance) has never been more important.
“In a market dominated by customers making supplier-switching decisions primarily on price, the key challenge facing companies is to understand the customer’s perception of total value received and not just the lowest price,” says Andrew Honey, Chairman of ThinkSales Global.
“First, some of our customers are being forced to sell products and services at prices lower than their business model allows; this is obviously a massive problem.”
“Second, many of the companies we interact with know there are deals they should or must win, and yet they are losing them. This is often because their Sales Force and sales and marketing collateral are not geared towards fully articulating the value of their services – the customer therefore cannot comprehend the value and so defers to the easiest measurement, which is price. The result for the organisation is value leakage, the greatest threat to profit realisation.”
As a seller, if you can open the door to decision-makers through value-messaging and then build a compelling business case that matches real client needs or challenges to effective solutions, you will demonstrate how you are best-positioned to enable your customers to optimise their operations and leverage competitive opportunities or mitigate risks, out-performing those who don’t. These are also the companies that are better equipped to protect their margins by withstanding the pressure to discount their prices.
THE STATE OF B2B SALES IN SOUTH AFRICA 2021
Results from the 2021 ThinkSales State of B2B Sales in South Africa survey back this up. We benchmarked over 100 respondents from mid-sized, large and enterprise-level companies to separate the Strong from Weak Performers*. One of the most striking findings in the survey was the differences in how both groups handled value.
1. How has Covid-19 impacted the need to articulate value?
In response to the statement, Since the onset of Covid-19 the need to articulate value to buyers has increased substantially, the Weakest Performers saw this as a more urgent issue with 75% of them selecting Strongly Agree and Agree, versus only 64% of the Strongest Performers.
2. How effective are your value propositions?
However, 84% of the Strongest Performers refined their Value Proposition since Covid-19 to ensure that it connected effectively with prospects and customers on WHY to select them, versus only 68% of weak performers.
3. Are sales reps equipped with compelling value messaging, relevant to the current environment?
In answer to the statement Our sales reps are equipped with effective sales enablement collateral to help them build credibility, establish a business case and overcome skepticism in the current environment to close deals, 76% of the Strongest Performers indicated they Strongly Agreed and Agreed, versus only 52% in the Weakest group.
4. How is value vs price discounting addressed?
29% of the Weakest Performers cited discounted pricing as the action taken in response to Covid-19, versus only 8% of the Strongest Performers.
By contrast, 60% of Strongest Performers added value instead of discounting, versus 40% of the weakest.
5. Adding value to strengthen offerings
And 60% of the Strongest Performers added value to make existing product/service offerings more attractive, versus 45% of the weakest.
6. Focus on generating Thought Leadership
The Strongest Performers also outperformed the Weakest in increasing Thought Leadership content by 60% to 37,5%
* The Strongest and Weakest Performers are sub-set samples of all respondents. The Strongest Performers comprise those who stated they are confident they will achieve their annual target but excludes those who have ‘no concern’ about the effect of the pandemic on their sector. Leaders indicating ‘no concern’ have been excluded from the sub-set because any actions they take are unlikely to positively or negatively influence the business against the backdrop of major sector-specific impacts that are outside of their control.
The Weakest Performers comprise those who expressed doubt they will achieve their annual target but excludes those who expressed ‘extreme concern’ about the effect of the pandemic on their sector. Their actions are also unlikely to positively or negatively influence the business against the backdrop of major sector-specific impacts that are outside of their control.
DEPLOYING STRONGER VALUE PROPOSITIONS
From Lagging to Leading: Towards Sales Organisation Maturity
The end-goal of any company with a high dependence on their sales force to make budget is no doubt world-class practices, predictable sales revenue and market-leading advantage.
The underlying structure that supports the attainment of this goal is the degree of maturity reached in the Sales Organisation – a measure that can be charted on a line of progression from: Lagging to Defining, Aligning to Embedding and finally Optimising. Gains made from one stage to the next are cumulative.
- Mature Sales Organisations are those that have Defined processes and systems, and are Aligned at a strategic company level, functional business unit level and across the 5 Sales Pillars, comprising Competitive Strategy, Customer Engagement, Sales Talent, Sales Management, and Sales Enablement. Organisations that master the Defining and Aligning stages appreciate the need for structure and coherence and embrace a metrics-based management approach to deliver scalable and predictable outcomes.
- These processes are championed by the C-suite and universally adopted across the sales organisation – becoming Embedded in the culture as the default way in which business is conducted. A sales organisation that is exemplary at this stage has the backing of a highly engaged C-suite and its managers excel at execution.
- These processes and systems are then Optimised through ongoing refinement, testing and deployment to maintain a leading edge in every aspect of the Sales Organisation relative to evolving internal and external contexts (clients, competitors, business, industry, economy etc). An Optimising sales organisation embraces a culture of ongoing improvement and development and excels at execution, change management and agility.
Fluidity and Flux
Considering the myriad processes, tasks and focus areas inside any Sales Organisation, companies will not achieve a perfect score where all factors coalesce neatly into one stage – some aspects will be more mature than others and ongoing flux is to be expected as priorities change, systems become obsolete or are updated, and people enter and exit the organisation.
Deploying Stronger Value Propositions within the Sales Organisation Maturity Framework
- Your sales organisation has not defined a ‘value-led’ proposition. In client interactions, Sales Reps rely on product features, benefits and price.
- In defining your value propositions, you identify and delineate your major customer segments, taking into account their differences as you create nuanced messaging best-suited to each market.
- In building these various value props, you seek 360-degree inputs from your sales reps and sales managers, various Business Units, including marketing, finance, service and ops, the C-Suite, and your customers themselves.
- In this stage, your approach is to test and learn, and so preliminary, pre-deployment testing is conducted with your team, your prospects and customers to ensure the message lands..
- Your value proposition is backed up by customer case studies that employ third party validation and social proof to legitimise your track record.
- Your value propositions are aligned to your marketing communications and dovetail with your overall company positioning and strategy.
- As the rise of digital accelerates, messaging on your digital channels is given special attention.
- The necessary sales support materials (collateral and tools) are regularly updated and aligned.
- Your sales team has been trained on how to lead value-driven engagements, using the relevant value propositions throughout the buying journey – from start to end of the funnel.
- Your reps are adept at co-creating a solution with the customer by accurately diagnosing their challenges and presenting aspects of the solution that best meet that customer’s definition of value.
- You have universal adoption of your value proposition.
- Leading with a client-centric, high-priority needs focus has become embedded in the fabric of your sales organisation, and this culture is continuously reinforced and nurtured.
- Your value propositions are embedded in every phase of the buying journey.
- Your reps have a high degree of situational fluency when it comes to understanding different client challenges and they demonstrate expertise in articulating your value proposition. They are adept at co-creating solutions with customers by accurately diagnosing their challenges and presenting aspects of the solution that best meet each customer’s definition of value.
- When sales managers coach reps, they include a strong emphasis on value alignment by market segment.
- Customer-needs and priorities are ever-changing, particularly as the global pandemic forces businesses to reprioritise revenue channels, adjust budgets and redeploy assets. In response, your Sales Organisation takes an agile approach to continuous improvement to maintain its leading edge.
- You have an effective methodology for collecting and sharing feedback from your prospects, clients and team on hits and misses.
- Ongoing development is data-led, and involves rapid development, testing and deployment.
- Your sales culture embraces ongoing improvement and evolution and your sales force is adept at absorbing change to enhance their performance.
Our Customers Out-perform Their Markets. Here’s How
ThinkSales Global is a management consultancy that blends strategy with execution to achieve market-leading results.
How We Equip Our Clients to Engineer Revenue Growth
By deploying our unique Revenue Engineering Approach, we assist our customers with revenue growth and margin protection to achieve or surpass their budget.
Our Revenue Engineering Approach
We assist our customers accelerate their rate of revenue growth to out-perform the market by achieving Sales Maturity across the 5 Pillars of a world-class Sales Organisation, namely: Competitive Strategy, Customer Engagement, Sales Talent, Sales Management and Sales Enablement.
This Revenue Engineering Approach aligns the corporate growth strategy to the functional area of sales and is linked to KPIs and specific outcomes.
Through our diagnostic approach, we identify strengths and weaknesses within the 5-Pillar Sales Maturity Model framework. We then co-create a solution and assist clients in defining, aligning, embedding and optimising.