Qualifying Budget Too Early – Sales eXecution 3081

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

SketchNotesPRICING(LS)(E)-01

I was watching a pundit wax poetic about how to qualify prospects on an initial prospecting call. I give him credit for acknowledging that the phone and cold calling is still a viable means of reaching real buyers, but I had issues with some other points he was trying to make, namely, qualifying for budget.

To be fair, let me state the assumption I am working with. This is not a one call sales, it is a bit more involved; the site the piece appeared on was a technology related site, and not one that promoted USB cables, but broader systems integration.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think budget should be established before you go too far in the sale. Investing valuable time and potentially resources without knowing if and how you are going to be paid is not what professional sales people do. On the other hand, on an initial prospecting call, one where at best you may establish engagement, or secure an appointment, is budget really the issue at hand? Given that this call will likely lead to the first of a number of meeting, with multiple people with varying agendas; going down the budget hole could be more fatal than practical. With budget usually being the link in the chain between price and value, it would make a bit of sense to imitate some sense of value first, not part of a prospecting call, and if it is, it will be a short call.

Bringing budget up in that first meeting that results from the prospecting call makes sense, but not on the prospecting call. As mentioned, there is a link between budget and value, so there needs to be some semblance of value first. Now of course the problem with “value” is that it is rarely defined, it is talked to, it is talked about, it is probably part of every sales conversation, but there as many different definitions as there are people asked, often more.

One actionable definition to work with is as follows:

Those services and/or products that remove barriers, obstacles, or help bridge GAPS between where the buyer is now – and – their Objectives!

So until you hone in on the buyer’s objectives, and understand how you can move them towards achieving those objectives, it is hard to talk about budget, in a serious way, and I would suspect that unlike our pundit friend, you are serious about succeeding in selling.

Based on the post, I have to conclude that the pundit in question only works with “inbound” order takers, and here is why. Say we wen his way, and qualified based on budget, we would miss out on a whole bunch of sales. We have all had instances where when we first approached a prospect, they did not have “budget for this kind of thing”. But after engaging and together working towards how what you are selling moves them towards their objective, they are able to produce budget. Could be as simple as helping them see how the purchase may be an operating item vs. a capital spend. Or it can be more complex exercise of bringing other beneficiaries into the process. But in that first call, they would disqualify themselves, and you’d miss out on the sale.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

FREE is A Four Letter Word – Sales eXecution 2900

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Solution

As you may be aware I have the honour of being one of the presenters at this year’s Sales Performance Summit, the event is both live, and being webcast live simultaneously to anyone with a web connection, even the folks on the International Space Station. What I found interesting is the number of people who are questioning the wisdom of charging for the simulcast, many of those questioning us are themselves sales pundits. They point to great content being made available on the web for free; or that the webcast will cut into our live attendance as people can participate from their office and save.

But here is the deal, I believe buyers are smarter than that, tire kickers maybe not. People know value, and they are willing to pay fair value for value received. Much of what is available for free on the web has a hidden cost, usually some form of product promotion or some other offer made during the presentation. Organizers of the Summit have committed to no selling, no hidden cost, just actionable insights for improving Performance Management.

There is nothing wrong with free webinars or web events, I have done them, and will do them in the future. Everyone knows what they are signing up for, and in my case, can’t speak for others, I always make sure that there are some specific take aways, both in terms of steps or things attendees can do to improve their sales, and or tools they can use over and above whatever product the sponsor may offer.

I remember working with a global brand, one specifically known for their selling prowess and power. As we got down to the short strokes, the buyer, a director of Sales Productivity, asked me to offer the initial session free, this would allow them to assess how to roll it out to other geographies, a show of good faith on my part. I pointed out that my mortgage holder offered no such sign of good faith for having my mortgage.

To make his point, he told me that another provider delivering a different program is doing a “pilot” for free. I pointed out that I do not set pricing for them, but I do for Renbor, and the price quoted was fair value. He asked why I would suppose that the other party would be willing to do that: “Maybe they want my business more and are willing to show this gesture?” I offered, “Maybe they know what their stuff was worth”. We went back and forth, and I finally said “OK, if I do it free, and when we get around to price and negotiations, and your team asks me how to handle it, I will tell them do what I do, give it away free. Or we can come to a mutually fair price point and I can share with them how to not get bullied on price” I am not sure what he like less, being called a bully or having to pay for the program.

There are three things you need to have in place to avoid the price or free trap:

  • Understand real value you bring to the buyer’s objectives
  • Be able to articulate, demonstrate and validate that you have helped other buyers achieve those objectives, and that they were able to attain a measurable ROI at your full price. This takes work and a deep understanding of the buyers objectives, their process of achieving those objectives, and barriers that have prevented them for getting there that you have successfully broken down
  • This is the hardest, have enough of a prospect base where you have the ability to turn away from bad deals. Without that, you’ll be able to rationalize any price, even the absence of one. Want to win the price game, learn to prospect.

Remember free is a four latter word, one that begins with the letter F to boot!

Tibor Shanto

Live sold out

How To Lose A Sale With Your First Response – Sales eXecution 2826

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Child in calss

When you initially approach an unsuspecting prospect, how you present what you sell will go a long way in determining the outcome.

Yet when you ask sales people to tell you what they sell, a large majority and their managers get it wrong. They will usually tell me things like:

  • I sell hardware – software – any kindaware
  • Systems, or “high end” systems
  • Blah blah blah services
  • MFP Printers
  • Print solutions

These are all good, but in the end these are things that you deliver, literally, in most cases they are a means to an entirely different end. These are also how the user or implementer would define things, after all they are part of the process, not the ultimate beneficiary. If you are an IT person working on implementing a new finance package, the above type of response will suffice, because they are more likely to be part of the selection process, not the buying process, those who have the requirement that drives the selection and implementation.

One interesting follow on to the above is when we drill down on “solutions”, that crowd favourite, juicy, round, yet vague enough to fit most conversations. (Usually only a few words either side of the other great undefined – value) By implication, when you say you have a solution, you should be able to articulate what you can solve for the prospect, in terms they can relate to, not vis-à-vis your quota. Basing your answer to that on the list above will cost you sales. The problem the user or implementer are trying to solve are very different than those that got the project funded and backed. Without that you will always be in the selection pageant, not in the decision tent.

When we push this point a bit, we get a second round of answers, better but not quite there yet. We get:

  • Improved productivity
  • Improved work-flow
  • Efficiencies
  • Peace of mind

No doubt a step forward, but on their as they are above, and in most initial prospecting conversations, they mean nothing, they lack teeth. How can we improve their work-flow or productivity? What specific efficiencies can you introduce that are specific to them, not your offering Remember your offering and that of your two closest competitor, usually known as Column A and Column C, are most likely 85% the same, so if you can’t answer that, the discussion drops to line P, for price.

The answer is really “why do people buy?” People at all levels of the decision. The challenge in selling the first list is it only speaks to the selection folks, not the buying folks; the second list needs to have a lot more specifics aligned with the buyers’ objectives than just identifying their categories. You need to speak to those objectives and outcomes you have delivered. Understanding how they view productivity, and speaking to that in specific terms is a start. They need to be able to visualize and relate to the specifics of the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Same for the financial aspect, time shifts, risk and more. Then you need to be able to present things in a way that aligns with their filters, and each role in the decision will be biased by their role.

The reality is that much has changed in sales, but the fact that first impressions are crucial has not, and how you answer that initial question of “What do you sell?” can make all the difference to your success.

Tibor Shanto

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Why You Need Full-Circle Sales at Every Stage in the Buy Cycle0

Oct 14

The Pipeline Guest Post – Megan Totka

You’ve just earned your company a big contract and you’re about to look amazing in front of the boss. You worked hard for that sale, but what if it didn’t have to be so difficult? What if you could earn more sales from customers that already know, like, and trust your brand?

You can, by using every stage in the buy cycle to your advantage.

What is the Buy Cycle?

There are five stages a customer goes through when deciding whether or not to work with your company. The way you engage with the customer from introduction to deal-closing handshake has a dramatic impact on your sales success.

Creating a touch plan before, during, and after the sale is crucial. It’s easier and cheaper to retain loyal customers than to start from scratch for every sale. By developing long-term relationships, you optimize your marketing efforts and get the most from your customer base.

Here’s how you can incorporate full-circle sales at each stage in the buy cycle.

Awareness, Consideration, and Preference

Before a customer buys from you, she has to know you exist. This is the awareness stage. Once she finds you, your customer immediately begins considering whether your business meets her needs. She researches to decide whether she prefers you over your competitor.

Effective sales teams are intimately familiar with how to work with the customer at each of these stages. Your marketing team plays an equally critical role.

During this process, sales and marketing teams must work in harmony. With consistent, integrated communication, both teams can put together informative materials to address the customer’s problems, concerns, and questions. Scatter helpful content on your website and online to reach your buyer at the time when she needs it the most.

Purchase

Once you’ve convinced your buyer to open her wallet, you’ve made the sale. However, the sales process does not and should not stop there.

During the sale, your team has the opportunity to increase revenues by adding on valuable services. By upselling an existing customer into a better package, extra services, or more features, your company leverages an already eager buyer. This makes you more money and establishes greater loyalty to your brand. By not offering more during this stage in the buy cycle, you lose a tremendous opportunity.

Repurchase

Sooner or later, your customer will want to buy more. By anticipating this need, your company wins another sale.

Far too many companies neglect this part of the buy cycle. Many teams think that once a purchase is made, the customer will automatically return for future needs. Not so.

To sell better and sell more, your company needs to nurture existing customers. Send regular emails, keep in touch on social media, and reward your customer’s loyalty with exclusive offers. Continue to sell to your buyer even after she purchased. This will increase her loyalty to your brand and her likelihood to buy from you again in the future.

Using a dynamic online CRM like Insightly helps you track communications with your customers across all departments. You can identify gaps in the sales process, opportunities throughout the buy cycle, and new ways to drive bigger revenues from existing customers. Your company saves money over the cost of finding and developing new prospects by leveraging your current customers.

About Megan Totka

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

The Value Deficit – Sales eXecution 2710

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Sales scale

Sales is very much a balancing exercise, somewhat like a scale, to keep balanced, you need to ensure that there is as much weight on one side as there is on the other. When there isn’t it could lead to problems for the parties involved. The most common example of this in B2B selling is price. More often than not, when a sales person finds themselves negotiating on price, or selling on price it is the result of not having created enough value to merit the price they are demanding.

It is easy to find one’s self with a value deficit just at the wrong time, and having to give unnecessary concessions to win the deal. A fundamental element is a lack of an understanding of value, after all, value is a subjective thing. Like beauty, value is in the eye of the beholder, some line up to pay for a high end performance auto, while others are loath to pay full price for even the most basic vehicle. Part of the problem is a lack of definition around value, just because it is subjective, does not mean it cannot be defined, especially in the context of a sale. This is especially so in a day when everyone is so keen to rest on their value proposition. As I have said in the past value propositions are useless, you can put lipstick on it but it is still a pitch.

So let’s define value, especially in a way that allows you to avoid a value deficit. This is an actionable definition we use with our clients:

“Buyers will see value in those offerings that remove barriers, obstacles, or helps bridge GAPS between where the buyer is now – and – their objectives!”

By helping clients move towards their objectives, or better yet achieve them, you can build value right from the start. Add to that the needed step of quantifying the outcomes you can deliver, you can in effect quantify the value you deliver, and expand that to the value your buyer will realize, which can be greater, especially if you sell it right. By that I mean that if you can help the client see how achieving specific steps or objectives will help open up opportunities beyond that, the payoff will seem and in fact be better than initially understood, and worth paying for.

As an example, let’s say you can demonstrate that you can help the client improve manufacturing process. A good enough objective and outcome on its own. But why stop there, why not explore further, further than your product goes, with the improvement in the process, can they reduce the cost of good, which can both reduce their requirement for operating funds and increased margins. With better margins, can they increase targeted market share, which in turn helps them negotiate better terms with suppliers, etc. Most sales people stop short of this because their product may not be directly delivering or involved in all steps taken, but all I need to be is the catalyst, not doing every bit of it. By extrapolating the value I bring to their objective, I can create a value surplus, or at the minimum, avoid a value deficit.  In other words, build value for the buyer, not value for your product.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Can You Sell Your Competitor’s Product?0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Compete

Given today’s buying climate, chances are your buyer is talking to a range of potential providers, usually after having carried out some “independent” research. I say “independent” because one is susceptible to the echo chamber group think risk presented in an information overload, knowledge under-load world. For many companies, this is only made worse by the “be found” silliness being peddled by many pundits their sales people are being enticed by. In the past I have written about the power of “Land Mine Questions”, but if you are looking to win more sales this year, you need to go further.

One way to ensure that you are covering all angels to help your buyer make the right choice – you, is to be able to not only view the world through the buyer’s eyes, but also through the eyes of your competitors. While many sales people are familiar with their competitor’s product, strengths and Achilles Heel, great sales people go further to the point where they could sell the competitor’s product, better than the competitor rep can.

I was talking to an IT rep last week who is big on visualizing. He, like many I know, use a practice I use and recommend, which to visualize a sales meeting the day before, go through how you will open, If you know the people, visualize them sitting in the board room. Go through all the questions they may have, and think about how you may answer; picture yourself asking what you want to know, and go through the various answers they may give. Do the same for objections, what will they be, hear how you would answer them; all this allows you to not hear most things the first time during the actual meeting.

I suggested to him that he can take things one step further, by running through a meeting as though he was selling his competitor’s product, how would it be different, where would he feel exposed vs. the other vendor, what are strengths he can exploit. He asked if we could practice that, which we did the next day, his task overnight was to get into the head of is competitor. He jumped on the phone, and called their call centre, he asked them all the questions he hated, to see how they would respond. He then went on to ask questions around where he felt his product was a clear leader, to see how they managed things, and did so around a number of areas.

When we meet the next day, he not only felt that he was in a better position to accentuate his offering’s strength, but felt that he was equipped well enough to sell the other product, which helped him set a flow that would continue to differentiate and elevate his product over the other. As we rehearsed, we also made sure that he aligned the talk track to the buyer’s objectives, giving him the further ability to ensure that the buyer would see his product in a better light given their own objectives, more so than just on the basis of the products.

We’ll know next week how well he did. He felt his meeting went well, and if he does close the deal, it will put him a head of goal for the quarter, now, and ahead of the competition for some time to come.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Customers, Employees and Influencers as High Performing Sales and Marketing Channels1

Beedon Headshot

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dick Beedon

Although brand advocacy has always been important, it is critical today. The path to purchase has changed forever. Because there is so much data available, and because communication is so easy, today’s buyer almost always seeks advice from a trusted friend or consumer source before making a purchase. Brands are now starting to realize that what others say and write about them defines who they are.

Smart brands know they must build strategies and systems to generate, track and manage brand advocacy. They know they must encourage and enable the people that know and trust them – their customers, employees and 3rd party influencers – to advocate on behalf of the brand.

And it works. By encouraging and empowering these customers, employees and influencers, they will drive peer-to-peer referrals, forward content, share information about new products and promotions, and write testimonials. And they can do it at scale and more efficiently than traditional channels.

The Benefits of New Channels are Compelling (examples)

  1. They Build Brand Awareness – when a customer shares something about the brand with a friend, there is no better way of building the brand.
  2. They Generate Leads – those friends that respond and go to the brand for more information become the best leads a brand can get. There are few people on earth who will argue that leads generated from referrals are the best leads. 
  3. They Drive New Customer Acquisition – Leads from referrals close faster, they buy more and they stay longer. 

Other reasons customers, employees and influencers make good sales and marketing channels;

1.  Identify Brand Advocates and Build a Rich “Social” Data Set

Brand Advocates are identified when they register for or engage with your programs. By using technology systems, brands know who “opts-in” and advocates, how often they do it, what their sharing preferences are and how big their network is. We learn who they know and how influential they are. Brands are able to now get a deeper 360 view of their customer’s network value.

2. You’ll Know when Potential Customers are “In-Market”
Social channels provide insights and information not previously available. At the most basic level, social channels extend a brand’s sales force (with zero overhead) and they solve one of the biggest challenges brand’s face: knowing when a potential buyer is in-market. Only your current customers know when the people they know are ready to buy.
3. The cost of acquisition is lower.
This channel is always on and continually active – making referrals, amplifying products and promotions, and posting positive information about your brand. Brand advocates do this for a brand because they trust the brand and they want do it. Therefore, the time and cost invested into this channel is significantly less than other channels.
4. New customers that are referred by someone in your Social Channel are Valuable.
Research has consistently shown that consumers who convert as a result of a referral from a friend, are more loyal to a brand, spend more and stay longer.

Who are your Potential Channels and how Well can they Perform?

Customers, partners and employees are the fastest growing sales and marketing channel today. By utilizing the latest in social marketing software and technology, business leaders can mobilize these social relationships to generate new customers, and they can track and manage social behavior that is critical to the success of their company.

Customers recommend your products because they have first-hand, positive experience with them.

Today’s truly successful companies understand the importance of leveraging their customers into sales and marketing channels that drive corporate productivity. Creating and cultivating a large group of advocates can: pay huge dividends in the growth of your brand, increase subscribers, and boost profits. The financial investment to create this channel is minimal when you compare it to the long-term payoff for the brand.

About Richard Beedon

Richard Beedon is a founder and CEO of Amplifinity.  Beedon has led the acquisition of both Entyre Doc Prep (by Wolters Kluwer) and University Netcasting, who merged with Student Advantage (now collegesports.com) and was acquired by CBS. Dick’s thought leadership and early adaption of SaaS based technologies that allow brands to manage advocacy marketing has been instrumental in the success and growth of Amplifinity.

Please, New Is So Old Now – Sales eXchange 2361

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Future

I got a note from one of the pundits in my inbox telling me things I should do for sales success in the New Year. You may expect these type of things mid-way through December till maybe January 10th, but after that it is just an indicator that they don’t really understand B2B sales at all, and the customers they get as a result, they deserve.

As a sales person your really do need to live in the future, and fulfill in the present. You need to live in the future for two simple (probably more) reasons. First, if you are going to deliver real and lasting value to your customers you need to leave “ahead of them. If you are going to deliver to and drive their objectives, you have to be where those objectives will unfold, and that is almost always in the future. Especially with business leaders, be they leading small or large global companies. If you speak to these folks and you should, (as well as speaking to everyone else in the organization, it is not one über the others), you will notice that their horizon is in the future, based on who they are it could be six, twelve, eighteen months or more in the future. The have delegated the present to others in their organization, in the case of small business, they have relegated it to a different part of their thinking.

So if you are going to align and sell to them today, you need to be thinking and talking to things they thinking about, which means they have been in 2014 for some time, cranking up you preparation now, like the pundit suggest, nay, scream to the buyer, “This guy is no for you”, as my fellow Tull freaks will say he is “Living In The Past”. If you are going to step in to the roll of thought leader for these buyers, you need to recognize that you need to lead from the front.

The other reason you need to live in the future, is driven by the realities of calendars, fiscal years, invoicing and the payable cycles of your buyer. Let’s say you have a three month sales cycle (handshake to close), and you get paid when the first invoice is paid, 30 days is acceptable period for an invoice to be paid, you are going to need four months of run way for a deal to count towards your number this year. Which means anything you start after September 2, will be next year’s number. If it counts and you get paid, when the contract is signed, then that date moves to October 2nd. So if you were going to look at doing things a new way for 2014, you will have need to start that process last September or October, not January 26.

This is not to say that you should not always be adding new elements to your selling, just look at that as an ongoing part of your personal development, not an event tied to the New Year. Yes, I know the pundit needs to sell too, but you don’t have to buy if it will not help you now, or in the “now future”.

I am going to keep this mail as I am certain it is the exact same one she sent last January, with dates changed. I am not sure if I remember because it irritated me last year, or the fact that they used a stock photo used by a million other sites.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Sell Or Negotiate – What’s Your View?10

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Negotiate

Had the opportunity to listen in on an interesting discussion the other day between two sales practitioners, they were not aware of me, or what I do, I was just snooping. One, we’ll call him Fred, was telling the other, Joe, that he was looking forward to a negotiations program his company was sending him to, he felt this would help his sales. The other fellow, a bit more subdued and low key in his manner, smiled in a way that practically said “you silly sod”, suggested that the course may help his numbers occasionally, but will in no way help him sell better. And the battle was on.

Fred was saying that he often felt unprepared for the negotiations phase and having some solid training and a process to manage that part of the sale could only help. He insisted that knowing how to negotiate in a professional way would also allow him to arrive at a mutually acceptable, no one compromised, conclusion to deals. A win win, where both parties can walk away feeling they had accomplished a good thing for their respective organizations and cause.

Joe had a different view. He said he believed that the job of a sales professional was to build value for both parties throughout the sale, so by the time they arrived at the conclusion, both saw enough value in the deal that there was no need for what many call negotiations. If the sales person does what he/she is paid to do, they align their sales process with the buyer’s buying process, and communicate value in a way that there was no need to “add another act at the end of the play”, just to meet at a mutually acceptable point. That is why he felt that a negotiation process may help Fred’s numbers in some deals, but would not make him a better seller, in fact as Fred said, “you’ll become a lazy seller, looking for the negotiation phase to win the deal, instead of really and completely selling it from the start.”

Joe insisted that even when you execute the sale well, “there is always some need to negotiation, if not haggling, negotiations.” Joe, was resolved, “there will always be some discussion of some terms, some conditions, “things like delivery dates, small stuff, but if it is down to full blow negotiations that includes a piece on price, you did not sell the deal to begin with.” Joe said.

Since I could not see them directly, I am not sure if Fred read this next part from a brochure directly or just memorized it, but he said “you know Joe, every dollar you gain through negotiations goes straight to the bottom line.” I could hear Joe chuckle as he calmly replied, “every dollar of value you sell from the time you prospect them, take them through information gathering, through to proposal, also goes to the bottom line, but I don’t have to add an unnecessary stage to the sale, I’d rather sell it, then negotiate it.”

They kept on for a bit, I got off before it ended, I am sure they negotiated an amicable outcome.

But who do you think was right or closer to best practices, Joe who said sellers should sell, or Fred, who I am sure will get something out of his course? Let me know.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Why “Value Propositions” Are Useless12

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Lipstick Pig

It’s 2014, by now I assume you are no longer relying on Palm Pilot, going to Blockbuster for your in-home movie entertainment, so why are you still relying “value propositions” in the hope of engaging with potential buyers and winning clients?

People love the term value proposition, so user friendly, none threatening, cute, warm, and safe. Some pundits going to great lengths to elevate it above other questionable and formerly popular predecessors such as “the elevator pitch”, a concept dating back to liftmen trying to improve their lot with an unsuspecting captive (trapped) audience. I guess at one point someone alerted sellers to the fact that the word ‘Pitch’ was not conducive to consultative selling. So things evolved to USP – Or “Unique Selling Proposition”, exalting the uniqueness of one’s offering. But uniqueness on a product level is rare, continuous uniqueness even more infrequent. In the end it is still about what is being sold, and as such, just an elevated pitch.

And so it evolved, buyers are obviously looking for ‘Value’, (no matter how it is defined, or more often, undefined), while allowing sellers to cling to a familiar concept, ‘Proposition’, thus giving us the ever popular: ‘Value Proposition”.

Proposition –
1. the act of offering or suggesting something to be considered, accepted, adopted, or done.
2. a plan or scheme proposed.
3. an offer of terms for a transaction, as in business.

While this may have played well in focus groups, the reality is that you can put lipstick on it, but it’s still a ‘Pitch’. As with many things in sales, the problem is less with the concept than the execution.

The challenge is that sellers are still going into to selling situations with pre-molded ideas of value for a generic group of people, and proposing that it will fir to a specific scenario. Even well-crafted value propositions, with good contribution from Marketing, are rooted in “here is why this is good for you”, and are then proposed – pitched to potential buyers. While many of the assumptions that go into the value prop are indeed accurate, they are often “proposed” in a very one directional fashion, much like a pitch.

The better alternative would be to use the key elements of the value proposition as a basis for discussion. Rather that a proposing value, it is much more effective to mutually define and develop value for the potential buyer. You can still leverage the same facts and factors, but it is more about the way you use them to initiate and craft a discussion that will not only allow you to gain a better understanding of the buyer, their requirements and objectives, but will engage the buyer in a much deeper and impactful way. This will allow you to arrive at a mutually agreed on points of value that the buyer can take on without feeling that it was thrust on them in a pre-fab fashion.

The only practical use for “value propositions” is to disqualify buyers who don’t fit your preconceived cookie-cutter notion of who your right buyer is. Change proposition to definition, and you will eliminate those buyer that won’t benefit from your offering, while allowing you to engage and capture a much broader range of buyers that those who fit the mold.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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