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As sales professionals, we sometimes forget how important it is to deliver the right messages to buyers – messages that resonate with and engage them. One of our key sales activities is to get to know our customers better than we know ourselves and show them how we’ve successfully helped others with similar issues. And while we’re doing all this, the buyer is checking us out, too.
Of course, your sales organization may not have much control over what buyers do. But you do have control of what they find when they’re looking for you. At a minimum, you should take a close look inside to see if you are promoting the right messages to buyers at all times. Here are four key times when this is absolutely crucial.
If someone were to ask multiple people in your company what your value proposition is, would they all give the same answer? Just for kicks, let’s just say the same message resounded throughout your organization. Is the message focused on your company, or the value you provide to your customers?
Lisa Dennis, President and Founder of Knowledgence Associates, sees this all the time. In her blog post, The Value of Your Value Proposition, she says: “The ‘Me, Me, Me’ value proposition sees the world through the business’ eyes. That works for a Friday afternoon internal company pep rally but does very little to entice an educated customer. The customer wants to know, given specific needs and particular circumstances, why this product is the right choice. Everything else, frankly, is irrelevant.”
Too many websites simply show logos of companies who have done business with them. And then, when you look at their products and services, you usually find a laundry list of features and functions with little to no relevance to the types of problems the business solves for specific types of customers. Are these the right messages? What do they have to do with the buyer?
Many companies are finally figuring out that their websites need to speak to the challenges, goals and circumstances of their customers and how the company can help them. If they don’t, then their competition will.
There are different approaches to building and validating a sales pipeline. You can take the products and services that are in your “bag” and try to match it with a problem your customer or prospect may have. Or, you can get to know your customer or prospect by diligently identifying the specific business outcomes they are trying to attain and how they link to corporate goals, key priority initiatives and their desired timeframes. Only then can you build a pipeline aligned to your customer’s/prospect’s priorities and timelines.
If you do the former, your discovery tends to be mostly about you. That just doesn’t work. These deals tend to cascade from quarter to quarter in your pipeline, get stuck in an early stage of your sales process, and stay in the pipeline hundreds of days longer than they should. They may eventually close, but the pipeline is not aligned to your buyer’s priority and timeframes, only to yours. A deal that is all about the customer tends to move through the stages of the pipeline quicker since they have a priority need and a timeframe they must meet.
You could also say the same of many presentations and product demonstrations. Think about your presentation. Does it start with your company details? Like how many years you’ve been in business and how many customers and employees you have? Do you proudly show an impressive collage of customer logos and list your office locations? Oh, come on. You know you do. That’s just standard practice, right? Wrong. You’re not really sending the right messages.
Your presentation should start by validating everything you learned about the customer or prospect during the discovery process. By doing this, you’re essentially “reporting back” to them what you have learned, assuring them that you are on the same page. If there are any new stakeholders involved, it provides an avenue for even more discovery and additional validation.
This approach puts you in a better position to challenge them right off the bat and get them to think bolder by sharing your experience and success with other similar customers. You can prepare questions to fill in any knowledge gaps about their objectives, get specific timeframes nailed down, and thoroughly understand how a project may impact the individuals you know about or should know about.
Here’s the reality. People are super busy – you, your customers, your sales team, your management. When customers and prospects are checking out your company on the web and social media, it will take only seconds for them to decide if you (a) understand their industry, (b) have experience or success solving the same problems they have for similar organizations, and (c) are someone they can trust.
Here’s a pop quiz: Are your value proposition, website, discovery process and presentation focused on you? Or is it all about your customer?
Although developing the right messages is usually a key function of marketing, they rely on sales teams to help them create and validate them, which will resonate throughout your website and other assets. But it’s up to you as a sales professional to always use the right messages in your discovery process and presentations to engage buyers and effectively demonstrate your true value.