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Summary: Most salespeople know a wide range of reasons why their solution is valuable. They just need to know how to communicate that value messaging to buyers.
Effectively messaging value is far from a new concept to sales. However, in today’s complex sales situations where sellers need to work harder to differentiate themselves from the competition with buyers, it’s more important than ever. While most salespeople know a wide range of reasons why their solution is valuable, buyer research is indicating that they aren’t effectively communicating it. A study by Steve W. Martin research reported that 54% of salespeople could clearly explain how their solution positively impacts a customer’s business.
If you don’t communicate the specific value of your solution to them, buyers are left to connect the dots on their own. Some buyers can do that just fine, others can’t. And they shouldn’t have to! Enable the buyer to feel confident purchasing your product (or even meeting with you in the first place) by communicating enough relevant value.
The Four Types of Value
It’s possible to express the value of your solution in a variety of ways. What you think is valuable about your solution might be totally different from what a given buyer thinks. In our Modern Sales Foundations program, we’ve narrowed down all the different ways a solution delivers value into four specific categories – Business, Experiential, Aspirational, and Personal. This simplification makes value messaging something sellers can easily apply throughout the sales process.
In practice, most buyers look for, and find, value in more than one way. As you’re first approaching a new sales opportunity, you can approximate what’s important based on the buyer persona and some research. That said, it’s important to then uncover the specific value drivers that are meaningful to a buyer once you begin the sales process with discovery.
Let’s hit the most obvious one first. For many buyers, Business Value is the most critical type of value to communicate. It’s dollars and cents. It’s ROI. If your solution reduces costs, reduces risk, improves efficiency, drives revenue growth, or improves profitability for a customer, then it provides Business Value.
If you’re selling a B2B solution, you’re selling to a business that likely wants a financial or operational benefit from any solution it purchases. In a complex sale with multiple decision makers, it’s almost certain that at least one of them will be involved to ensure that your solution delivers sufficient Business Value.
Business Value isn’t the only thing that’s important to your buyers. Experiential Value is realized by a customer when your solution makes day-to-day life and tasks easier, simpler, or more pleasant. Products and services that reduce “headaches” in the workplace offer Experiential Value. Likewise, solutions that make certain operations easier or require less effort from the buyer offer a better experience and Experiential Value.
This idea of an improved experience or easing of processes applies in a number of different ways; Experiential Value benefits your customer’s employees, customers, or anyone else connected to the business.
Next to Business Value, Experiential often represents the most desired value in a purchase. Buyers certainly look for financial benefits from a purchase, but improving experience and making tasks less painful are also very important outcomes that help buyers make a case for changing from their status quo.
When your solution offers Aspirational Value, it aligns with the prospect or customer’s mission, vision, strategy or core values. A solution that aligns with a company’s desire to move upmarket, to be best-in-class for their customers offers Aspirational Value. It can also come from alignment with non-commercial interests such as company goals to reduce their carbon footprint, to empower employees, or otherwise be a force of good in the world.
If your solution helps the customer do any of the above, and it’s meaningful for a target buyer persona, be sure that it’s part of your value messaging. Aspirational Value is not always at the forefront of the value drivers that buyers appear to look for. That’s not to say you can’t sell certain buyers on your ability to align with the better organization or company that they strive to become in the future.
Does your solution specifically deliver value that mostly matters to one individual buyer? If implementing your solution would make your buyer a hero in the boardroom, then it does. If it lines her up for a promotion due to the great success resulting from delivering the outcomes of your solution, then it definitely does.
Besides making your buyer look good, Personal Value can also be meaningful if your buyer faces real problems personally that your solution uniquely alleviates. For a department manager who personally is stretched too thin and having to wear too many hats, you’ll deliver a lot of Personal Value if your solution eases some of the burden on that buyer’s day-to-day activity.
Personal Value often seems similar to Experiential Value in some circumstances, especially if you’re talking about your ability to make daily tasks and operations more efficient and easier. The distinction is that Experiential Value broadly benefits the customer organization or company. Conversely, Personal Value is specific to a buyer you are dealing with directly. In some cases, your solution might offer both types of value.
Multi-Thread Your Value Messaging
What complicates value messaging in many of today’s buying and selling conversations is the varying value needs of the buyers involved in the purchase. If you are presenting a proposal to four key decision makers, it is safe to say that there will be more than one, and likely three or four types of value that you need to effectively communicate.
In extreme cases, it can feel as though each buyer speaks a different language and you must communicate a little bit in each language to engage with each. Being able to effectively communicate value to each is what we call multi-threading your value messaging.
Multi-threading your value messaging is not rocket science, but it is something that you have to be intentional about doing when you are communicating value to a group of buyers. It requires preparation. If you aren’t engaging with the value drivers of one of the key influencers, it can easily sink your deal.
Sometimes you have to communicate types of value to specific influencers who you aren’t presenting directly to. If you assemble a written proposal and present it to your primary buyer, be sure that the other influencers also find the value they need to see in the proposal.
Focus on What Matters
You likely know a lot about your solution and all the ways your customers benefit from purchasing it. The truth is, not everything about your solution matters to an individual buyer and presenting all the facts might result in mental clutter. As you can imagine, this draws focus away from the product’s benefits and value drivers that actually do matter and would push the buyer to purchase.
Be sure that you are focusing on the specific benefits and outcomes your solution delivers that are aligned with the buyer’s needs and the types of value that the buyer needs to see. Keep this in mind whether you are presenting a written proposal, doing a live demonstration of your product, or simply explaining the value your customer derives from purchasing.
Modern Sales Foundations
Use a buyer-centric approach to improve sales results.
What it takes for salespeople to deliver value has changed significantly as the modern buying process has evolved. Modern Sales Foundations™ (MSF) is an end-to-end sales training program that teaches sellers the buyer-centric strategies and approaches needed to excel in today’s marketplace.