Value Propositions - What to Avoid!
First in a series pertaining to executive value propositions. In this first piece, we will cover aspects of value propositions to avoid.
By Ed Broyles, Pursuit Writer and Tracy De Cicco, Principal and Founder, Konposit LLC
Let’s face it – clients often hear too much about us as vendors, and too little about their needs. In today’s hyper competitive market, this no longer works. To compete, you have to stand out, and you do that by finding the right people to listen to at the right level, really listening, and then demonstrating true empathy, understanding, and then and only then, connecting it to what makes you uniquely able to deliver value to your client.
But in value propositions, you first have to avoid leading with:
1. Features and benefits
3. Your skills and expertise
4. Your mission
Avoid Leading in Value Propositions with Features and Benefits
Clients care about themselves and their problems and issues. At the risk of being particularly blunt, clients do not care about the features (what you do) of your product or the benefits (what you believe your client will like about your features). At some point in your sales training, you probably heard “benefits, benefits” overly emphasized, and you were told to tell clients about features as well. There may be some truth to this when creating a market. In most cases though and in particular in selling to the C-Suite, selling your features and benefits will not work.
This is because clients want to understand how to fix their problems and drive their strategies. Little more matters. Your features and benefits will not mean anything to them, only what you can do for them will. Lead off with their needs and opportunities and how you can help them in these ways and you will never go wrong.
Avoid Leading with Price
Is a lower price really all you have to offer? Your client cares about price and you may in fact be lowest. But surely you have more to offer than that. Never confuse price with value.
People are willing to pay $1000 for an iPhone X because Apple has communicated a strong value message. This includes best of breed industrial design and aesthetics, tantalizing design features, a ‘cool’ factor and many other points of customer value. Lead with your value, never your price.
Avoid Leading with Skills and Expertise
Respectfully, clients do not care about your number of years in business, the colorful history of your firm or your sales background. Do yourself and most especially your clients a favor, remove most of the verbiage about yourself and your company from your slides and messaging! Lead off with THEM; specifically, what you know about your customer and their problems and opportunities. Tell them something in their industry they need to be aware of. Be a thought leader. Lead off with what they need to know and you will have a very captive audience.
The only skills and expertise relevant to your client are those that directly impact the set of outcomes that you and your client have collaborated on. For example, let’s say that you are in discussions with your customer on a delivery engagement to help them install and implement a new set of business processes. The client will be very keen to know specifically who will be assigned to their account from a delivery standpoint – the client will want to see the bios of all those who will deliver the work, the project manager, etc. This is relevant and matters. The lens is always what they need and want.
Avoid Leading with Mission and Vision
A crisp, catchy mission statement on your website is fine. Reciting it to your prospective client in a presentation is not. Once again, the theme here is remove most of the information about you. Replace it with exciting and relevant information about them!
Every relationship you build and every project or deal established has its own mission and vision. That mission and vision needs to be directly rooted in client needs solely. It is all about them.
Was this a good start on value propositions? We hope so. Please join us for our next installment where we will share some of thinking on what you should lead with. Then after that, we’ll cover other tips and techniques for you to consider to successfully deliver value.
Tracy De Cicco and Ed Broyles have a combined 40 years of experience developing relationships with and selling to C-Suite executives. Tracy has led complex sales pursuits and Ed has developed thousands of written proposals to major commercial and government clients. Between Ed and Tracy, they have led and helped countless sales teams develop the value propositions and messaging that enabled access to top executives and won billions of dollars of business.
Tracy is the founder and principal of sales consulting firm, Konposit LLC. She helps global companies establish and develop sales penetration and traction in the US. Her company URL is www.konposit.com