Blog

Value messaging - the path to the right answers every time someone asks, "Who lost the sale?"

Mert Yentur

 

Value messaging is a concept that lies at the root of every effective sales enablement platform. In the quest to empower modern sellers in a competitive environment, the focus rests on the sales process – step by vital step. The pundits say that if you look after each pivotal stage en route, the closing of the deal will look after itself.

Value_Messaging

Let's put it another way: decision-makers and decision influencers move in and out of the process (i.e., the omnichannel engagement). Sometimes they stall it, and at other times they push it along and energize enthusiasm. Ignoring these influences, or worse, failing to address them promptly, can kybosh the proposal before it gets off the ground. Sales and marketing people provide effective value messaging based on their ability to deliver the right messages, to the right people in the buying organization, at the right time, in the right way. It drives the motivation to sell smarter and deliver the right message for every conversation. There’s no substitute for turning new prospects into new customers.

Competent managers in the sales enablement arena recognize that there's no such thing as a value proposition" where "one-size-fits-all" for every sales decision-maker in the same company. The realization creates a complexity that's resolved only by careful planning, patience, and a good dose of agile innovation. It's not a challenge anyone wants to leave to chance; a methodical approach in structuring the messages is imperative. 

After an established customer is lost, or a sales initiative goes south, the question is often asked, "Who lost the business?" The answer frequently is, "Any number of people involved - from production to marketing, to sales – even those connected to the final delivery." This article aims at identifying the errant situations so that deals close more often, and hard-earned customer loyalty is maintained forever. Opening the door to the unbeatable sales pitch is easier said than done.

Communicating with different parties incisively through the selling process is two-dimensional. It has to account for (a) how you choose to interact and (b) what you say to different people in the mix. Failure to embrace both factors at the crucial moments can implode the entire sales proposition. In contrast, by concentrating on the fundamental sales drivers as stated, one delivers value faster, to close more deals in less time. The concept of value messaging aims to meet buyer expectations accurately, and provide a better personalized buyer experience.

Most B2B buying organizations require the participation of up to six buyers from diverse divisions in deciding to move forward. Each one generally has a different way of viewing the same thing. Interpretations may indeed throw more spanners in the works than ever anticipated, making consensus seem elusive. Understanding the buyers' unique perspectives and coordinating communications to align with them, without thrusting it on others, is all part of value messaging. It enables the seller to convincingly engage buyers and meaningfully differentiate the buyer journey. 

 A case study to demonstrate what we mean:
Let's assume you are promoting better ways to drive Customer A's software process branded as the ZSKU Solution (hereon referred to a "ZSKU"). Customer A wants its clients to use ZSKU faster with better flexibility. Your proposal promises to provide just what the doctor ordered, hopefully at the right price. Try as they may, Customer A has to date not found a viable answer to its dilemma. Some involved buyers are somewhat skeptical they ever will.  

There is a ZSKU leader that has the most to lose if things go wrong. He is more concerned about finding a seamless result, quickly, and is prepared to pay more for this advantage if necessary. The CFO, however, isn't so much into the intricacies of the product as she is in the ultimate effect on ZSKU's contribution to a better ROI. The sales director, on the other hand, is sensitive to the disruption of bringing in new configurations. He fears that they have a way of putting the brakes on the consumer deal flow already in motion. Then there are the computer engineers involved in the development of ZSKU and presenting it functionally with all the bells and whistles. This category may view your offer as a hindrance, a Godsend, or an ego-slap. Individuals within the group represent a mixture of all three.

Effective messaging for Customer A should take all positions into account (i.e., the ZSKU leader, the CFO, the sales director, and the engineers.) Communication methods and content customized for different audiences, although different, must converge on a central vision of success in solving the company's problem. 

Here are the essential ingredients for constructing value messaging that's geared to closing deals more effectively with the least stop-go-stop effect. 

Distinguish the difference between value messaging by marketing and sales. 
As a rule, marketing communications surround the "Attention" and "Pre-interest" stages of the selling process. They take a broad view of things, as opposed to the pinpoint messaging suited to convince audiences already committed to listening to your offer. Creation of leads is one thing, converting a new prospect into a buying customer quite another. Marketing is naturally good at the former, and sales reps more competent at the latter. Therefore, the burden of value messaging decisions starts in most cases with marketing personnel involvement, and transitions into the sales department once market traction is evident.  

Formalize value messaging. Don't leave it to salesman intuition.

Research studies in the automated Sales Enablement field revealed that:

  1. Value message packages (i.e., defined as specifying media + customized messages for identified buyer parties), help reps win nearly 10% more times. 
  2. Combining the above approach with styling the message package to fit the selling cycle phase, creates 20% performance improvement. Further, the more reps apply structured value messaging in the real world with firsthand proof of elevated results, the faster the strategy gets traction and full acceptance. 

Deriving maximum benefit from value messaging involves the best-of-the-best in strategic planning:

  • Look at every prospect you deal with that promises to be a closed customer, and map out a value messaging (VM) path step-by-step.
  • Be prepared to be flexible and adjust it as things progress.
  • Make a distinction between stages, changing the VM when attention transforms into interest, interest into conviction, and conviction finally into action.
  • Know the key parties you have to go through in each phase.
  • Anticipate the objections and structure the VM to combat the same.
  • Understand how the different parties want to communicate with you. Use every modern application and facility to accommodate their preferences. Specify what medium to use when and with whom.
  • Train your reps to identify transitions from one stage to the next, and to be agile in changing tactics in terms of the VM developed plan
  • Welcome team participation in adding and erasing VM content as experience kicks in.
  • Realize the VM in the early stages may be on the hypothetical side and more general, whereas deeper in it becomes more specific with pinpoint direction. 

Pitching products requires one track while solving problems is very different. Strange as it may seem, reps vested in bad habits don't know when to stop the one in favor of the other. Overselling often kills the sale. 

Mapping out a VM path only works if you harness every available talent to achieve the objective.
Sales enablement is indeed the activity that coordinates the input and skills from all sides of the seller's business. In summary, VM strategy has to draw on marketing, production, and sales input without letting egos get in the way of progress. Every team member should understand that VM development is bigger than the separate parts and that each piece is critical to the final value message. 

Finally, guide your sales team on how to implement the VM plan through case studies and role-playing. These are compelling coaching and training solutions. You cannot train enough. There's no substitute for entering each stage of the selling process with confidence, flexibility, and knowing the cues for switching tactics.

"Who lost the sale?" 
It’s is a question that will arise far less frequently once VM as an integral activity takes hold. More importantly, when it does happen, VM participants can answer the question more accurately every time and make adjustments accordingly. The bigger vision – to maximize ROI and exceed revenue targets consistently – lies at the center of sound VM thinking.

All the "how-to" aspects are contained in an excellent reference if you want to read more about it.

Pitcher is at the cutting edge of value messaging and your one-stop Sales Enablement resource. 
As a leading voice in the automated sales enablement field, Pitcher can develop a cohesive VM strategy for your B2B business in almost every industry. Sell to your customers the way they want to buy, which may be vastly different from the way you prefer to sell. Pitcher helps you make the adjustments and transition to VM seamlessly and in a manner that creates team support at the same time.  

To experience Pitcher first hand, interested parties can request a demo at pitcher.com.