In today's challenging and uncertain business climate, your customers have good reason to be cautious. They are unlikely to initiate new projects unless they see them as being strategically relevant, tactically urgent, and capable of delivering rapid time-to-value. The rest can wait.
If your sales organisation are to break through the deadlock, they must develop compelling answers to their customer's three critical questions:
If your answers to any of these questions are less than completely compelling, the chances are your customer will stick with the status quo. Generic value propositions are not going to be much help - your salespeople need to learn how to craft customer-specific outcome-centric value stories...
Each of these three questions needs to be broken down into its constituent parts - and if any of these components are weak or missing, your chances of winning their business are likely to be compromised.
In most complex B2B environments, and particularly if your customer is considering a discretionary - as opposed to an inevitable - purchase your most powerful competitor is probably not another similar vendor, but the status quo.
Without a compelling customer-specific value story, you may never win.
Until and unless - hopefully with your help - your customer concludes that staying on their current path would be dangerous and that they have to change direction, they are unlikely to take action. So, the first question they need to answer is why they should change.
You need to understand four things if you are to persuade them of the need for change:
You now need to convince them that you are the best partner to help them achieve the change they recognise they need to achieve. Your competition may not just be other similar vendors: in many situations, your “solution” will also be evaluated against an in-house initiative.
You therefore need to understand three things if you are to persuade them to choose you:
But even if the customer is convinced of the need for change, and even if they believe that you represent their best possible option, they may still not commit to immediate action unless they feel a sense of urgency.
There are two more things required to complete their value story:
As you can imagine, having a clear, compelling and complete value story is the perfect foundation for the all-important executive summary of a proposal that will compel them to take action. It can confirm that your proposed solution is strategically relevant, tactically urgent and will deliver rapid time to value.
We’ve created a simple one-page framework that helps to ensure that you have captured every element of your outcome-centric, customer-specific value story:
Customer Specific Value Story
Your chances of winning with such a value story are far higher than if your proposal merely makes the case for your company and your offerings. Without a compelling value story, your project risks (at best) being deferred. At worst, you may never win the business.
So, wouldn’t it make sense to ensure that you had established the foundations for compelling value story, answering “why change, why you and why now?” before you invested significant resources in pursuing an opportunity that was never there in the first place, or never winnable if it was?
Drop me a line if you’d like an editable copy of the value story template.
CEO at Inflexion-Point, the UK-based B2B sales and marketing performance improvement specialists. Inflexion-Point helps B2B organisations to design and implement highly effective customer acquisition systems based on a combination of the winning habits of their top sales performers and the latest industry best practices.