The entire, expansive, complex art of selling can be boiled down into one simple concept: solving a business problem for your Prospect.
You need to understand and then clearly articulate what business problem you are solving for your Prospect with your solution. Companies make investments to solve a business problem and to achieve a specific desired business outcome.
In properly (re) defining your value proposition, you need to articulate:
Your Prospect’s Desired Business Outcome
- What specific business problem are you solving for your Prospect?
- Why should it be a priority for them?
- Your Prospects typically have only 3 desired business outcomes: Increase revenue; Reduce cost/expense; Reduce risk.
- How will your solution help them solve this business problem?
- Technologists – please use plain English not techno babble (nobody cares how smart you think you are).
- Why is your solution the BEST of the many alternatives out there to solve this particular problem?
- This should be fact based (not your opinion).
- These points of differential must be relevant to your prospect.
The last item on our list refers to understanding your competitive advantage vs. the market for what you do. How do you articulate what really differentiates you from the competition?
Our experience working with firms is that competitive advantage is one of the least understood concepts in their selling toolkits.
It appears as though we are not the only ones who feel this way. In her book Competitive Advantage (Doubleday 2006), Jaynie L. Smith conducted research that proved over 90% of business “had no clue how to articulate their competitive advantage”. Smith goes on to argue that a “differentiator that is not valued by the Prospect is not a competitive advantage”.
Your competitive advantage must be:
Fact based: Your opinion that you have the best solution in the industry may not be persuasive.
Meaningful or relevant to your target market: The only way to know what is meaningful to your Prospect base is to have them tell you
Unique to your solution: All companies say that they have great price / quality / service. By definition these things cannot be competitive differentiators if every company states it has them.
Selling is about solving a business problem for a customer. If you want to be successful, you need to clearly understand what business problem your solution solves for a customer and why you are unique and different in the market to solve that problem given their other options.
Understanding and articulating the value proposition of your firm is the responsibility of Executive Management NOT the sales team. Once you understand it, it is the sales team’s responsibility to execute on it.