Value Selling: proving the value of solutions to economic-focused prospects & customers
A doctor friend of mine, Dr. Gary Kalser says“patients nowadays fall into two buckets:“Those that really need proactive health checks …. Who really have something wrong with them, but don’t know it yet. However, we struggle to get folks nowadays to pay attention – to take a little time and see what issues they should be addressing now, before they become bigger issues later.The second group? They already know something is wrong, and they come into theoffice asking for specific treatments and meds. A few visits to WebMd or social “help” groups and they’ve self-diagnosed their ills and are asking for very specific treatments and prescriptions. I have to say, time-out. Let me ask you a few important questions about what ails you. Let’s run a few key tests and be sure that your diagnosis is correct, and the treatment you are asking for is indeed the best.”
Your Buyers have likely changed as well … not unlike DrKalser’s patients:First, they are more in control of the buying process. With the Internet and social media, they have access to more information about opportunities, you and your competition. Sales is often walking in with less information than the prospect, and can no longer control the flow of information, both good or bad. They are also likely being invited later into the decision making process…. We’ll see by how much in a few. Second, they are more overwhelmed. A typical executive receives 6 calls and 14 emails from vendors each day (IDC). If you are like me, this number is low by large amount. Buyers are themselves forced to Do More with Less, and as a result have less time than ever for vendors, yet they indicate in survey after survey that they need consultative help more than ever to navigate opportunities and solutions.Third, they are more skeptical. They’ve heard the same old product and solution selling sales pitches. They need compelling insight, not empty one size fits all sales pitches. 90% indicate that they require a tangible bottom-line impact and business case prior to purchase commitment, a good pitch might help get you in the door, but it will not fly longer term to advance the deal and win approval.Fourth, there are more stakeholders than ever before. IDC reports a 40% increase in the last 3 years in the number of stakeholders involved, now averaging 7 people per purchase decision. Especially prominent is the role of the CFO and procurement, consolidating vendors and taking direct action to squeeze every last ounce out of each deal. Since value is in the eye of the beholder, unique value messaging for each stakeholder is critical for success.And most importantly, your buyers are more frugal. They have a scale in their minds, weighing whether to do nothing or to commit to “Yes”. Looking at decision neuro science, the mind naturally prefers to “Do Nothing”-- Status Quo Bias. Research tells us in order to win, you must quantify that the cost of doing nothing + the value of change are more than 2x greater than the perceived risks and costs of change.
53% of prospects purchase because of best buying experience versus many other criteria like best brand, best products, best price. And your ability to provide consultative content and direct sales engagements are one of the primary contributors to a great buying experience.However, there is a gap …. A Value Selling gap that is preventing this best buying experience.Asking sales VPs and leaders, the number one issue for achieving sales goals remains the “Inability for sales to effectively communicate value messages”, the third year in a row that SiriusDecisions reports this as the top internal sales effectiveness issue. Worse is the view from the client, where 68% of buyers perceive sales as product / pseudo-solution selling vs. where they would like them to be – as value-focused (<12%), according to a study of key decision makers by Forrester.
In a typical sales cycle, there are buyers who are choosing to stay with business as usual … choosing Do Nothing versus proceeding with you proposal and saying “Yes”. And with a Do More with Less economy, with less to invest and less tolerance for risk, the chances of a stalled deal are greater than ever. According to Sales Benchmark Index, the average pipeline now has up to 58% of deals stalled.Stalls in flight are often experienced as a pilot tries to climb too fast, experiencing a sudden reduction in lift as the angle of the airplane exceeds the critical angle of attack…. A point at which the wing no longer provides lift ….. This is not a good situation to be in.Just like a salesperson, if you are trying to climb too fast, outpacing the customer’s own decision making journey, you can experience a stall…. And you will see several indicators:The customer won’t call me back….. They just went dark on me ….They just keep rescheduling our meetings ... All signs of a stall.How can this occur?Your prospect may not believe they have the issue you are sellingThe rest of the decision making stakeholders may not be on board that this is an issue worth addressingYour prospect knows they have the issue, but they have a lot of issues, and this one is way down in the stackThey don’t believe that any solution really exists to solve the problemIn this “do more with less” economy, your prospects just don’t have the time, or the resources, or the budgetYour prospect perceives the proposal as too risky….. And this threshold is lower than everThe impacts of stalled sales cycles are evidenced in 22% longer sales cycles reported by SiriusDecisions, and up to 40% more discounting reported by U of Dayton as sales professionals use additional discounting to try and get the deals moving.When in this situation what do you do? Just like a pilot, you have to recognize you are getting ahead of the buyer and reduce the angle of attack, and provide more fuel to generate more thrust…. And the fuel can be critical content to help facilitate the buyer’s decision making.So if you are able to unstick the stalled deals, the opportunities are huge …. What you lose to the competition is nowhere near as much as what gets stalled…. So how to apply the “fuel” the right content to get “Do Nothing” buyers to “Yes”.
In order to get these deals un-stalled, you must facilitate your prospects’ decision making as they attempt to answer key concerns along their decision making journey: Why Change? - there are important opportunities to address, some of which they might not have even been aware… here you have to Quantify the Pain.Why Now? – the opportunity is a priority compared to everything else they have on their plate, and that failing to address the issue will cause competitive harm… here, it’s Justify the Gain.Why You? – that you are the best provider with the most cost effective, low risk and high value solution…. Prove you are Not the Same.As we examine these steps, it has become more important than ever to engage earlier and more provocatively in order to win the business. At this year’s Forrester Sales Enablement Forum, it was reported that vendors who engage earlier, helping the Prospect identify issues they might not have known they had or prioritizing issues that should have garnered more attention, were awarded 76% of the deals. While those who won the bake-off closed a mere 24% share. The split was 65%/35% just a few years ago, so you can see how engaging earlier, in a provocative manner, is even more critical now.In this “Do More With Less” economy, your prospects have less resources, risk appetite and budget than ever. In a world of constant firefighting, they often have difficulty uncovering issues, and properly quantifying / prioritizing their pains. As a result, the research points to how much help your prospects need help in identifying “Why Change?” and “Why Now?”, leveraging marketing content and earlier value selling engagements to facilitate change in the early stages of the buyer’s journey.However, because access to information makes everyone an expert, as Dr. Kalsar can attest to, we tend to self-diagnose and prescribe, delaying professional advice – sometimes until it is too late. Your sales professionals are likely being invited later and later into the decision making process, with reports that up to 2/3rds of the decision making process is complete prior to engagement. Is it really 2/3rds of the way through that sales is being engaged? It may not be this late, but we do know that improving earlier engagement is vital, and that self-diagnosis and later invites are occurring ….
High performing reps are different than mid-tier / low performers in that they deliver: Provocative engagementsPersona specific value messages - each buyer has different goals and challenges, a unique “point of value” as to what you can provide. For example, if you are trying to communicate the value of a web conferencing solution to different stakeholders, the value is completely different:For a sales executive, the value is in the ability to reach more customers, open new territories and cut back on travel wear and tearFor marketing, it’s the ability to reduce the cost to acquire new leadsFor product development, it’s the ability to improve team collaboration and reduce time to marketFor operations, it’s the avoidance of travel expensesFor IT, it’s the ability to reduce licensing and support costsLeverage tools that quantify the business conversation – Sirius Decisions refers to these as Value Actualization Tools, the use of diagnostic assessments, benefits estimators, and ROI / TCO calculators to identify and prioritize issues, quantify the cost of “do nothing” and deliver business case justification.
83% of buyers leverage white papers to help make decisions, however over the past 3 years there has been a steady decline in effectiveness to generate leads, and downloads from key sites. Your prospects now demand – You have to do better.PowerPoint – 1/3rd of survey participants have fallen asleep during a PPT presentations, while 1 in 5 would rather go to dentist than sit through another PowerPoint.Excel ROI / TCO spreadsheets ….. Sales professionals are already intimidated by financials, much less by an Excel spreadsheet tool.
So if traditional content is less than effective, what can you do?Leveraging technology, and delivering dynamic content is one of the keys.Interactive White Papers and Benefits EstimatorsCase StudiesValueStoryProduct Demos / Videos / free trials (freemium offer)ROI / TCO CalculatorsTo over come the stalla pilot must decrease the angle of attack and increase the air speed, until smooth air-flow over the wing is restored. To provide the fuel and throttle up to address the stall you need dynamic content and tools ….
Collects:User / Lead InformationCompany Profile (industry, location, size)Role in Purchase DecisionStage of Decision Making ProcessCurrent ChallengesCatalysts / Compelling EventsAsset Profile
Personalized value storyDiagnostic AssessmentCost of “Do Nothing”Benefits EstimationFinancial JustificationPDF, PPT and/or Word output
To deliver the best buying experience it is vital that you understand which content can help make the biggest difference to your prospects – the content that is perceived as most valuable to help your buyers make the right purchase decision.According to the IDC 2012 Buyer Experience Study, Financial Justification / ROI was the most valued content by a wide margin. This was rated above all other content including Product Information, Peer/Customer References, Industry Trends, Competitive Comparisons and Case Studies.So, the big question: do you have the Financial Justification / ROI content that your buyers need to help shorten their purchase decision cycle and address the growing number of stakeholders with unique value messaging and quantification for each?
MessagingIndustry, Location & SizeBuyer’s Role in Purchase DecisionBusiness Objectives & ChallengesCurrent Practices & Priority IssuesInteractive ToolsCost of Doing NothingBenefits and ROI of ChangeQuantify Competitive TCO & ValueMore Visuals & Less TextContrast – Before vs. AfterSocial Stories – User Successes & Social Sharing
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