Knowing your B2B value and the benefits that your product or service provides is the starting point of success in B2B marketing and sales. Having these aligned against what your prospects and customers need and value will strengthen your had.
If your competitors have defined their benefits and are communicating them in a better way than you are you will be at a disadvantage, and in a follower rather than a leader role in your market.
Here is an approach to help you define your B2B value proposition, and a way to create differentiation for yourself and your company and your products or services.
Two fundamental things business people buy
Business buyers need things to support two parts of their business:
- they need to buy products or services that they can sell on to customers. There may well be a small or large amount of value added to those products or services – from simply selling on finished goods, to turning raw materials into finished goods, or combining products from different sources or in different quantities into a solution for customers.
- they need products or services that enable them to trade and to run their business. These are not sold onto customers but are classed as overheads, such as premises and all associated costs, marketing, sales, administration activities and so on.
The way that people use the products or services you produce creates opportunities to add value. Understanding what your customer needs to do with your product or service before they can sell it on, or to run their business, enables you to adjust your value proposition. If you can do more of what your customer will need to do anyway, but at a lower cost due to economies of scale for instance, it can give you an advantage in the market.
The buyer may be able to clearly define what they want and need, and go looking for it. However there may be situations where they cannot clearly define and agree needs, especially for a complex and occasional purchases. The buyer is likely to undertake some research and this creates an opportunity for the vendor to offer educational information. A third situation occurs where the buyer don’t know they need something yet, for example where there is an innovation. In this case the vendor needs to make the running, and create the demand.
Four benefits business buyers value
The profit motive of businesses translates through to four powerful buying motives
- Make money – this is the motive to increase sales and hence profits, especially in a smooth and managed way that enables a business to optimise things like supplies and overhead costs.
- Save money – this is the efficiency and effectiveness motive, around reducing waste, increasing productivity of machinery or people.
- Compliance – this represents the legal side where businesses, directors and other key people have an obligation to meet certain criteria in order to trade, and where there are fines, imprisonment or other penalties to encourage compliance.
- Agility – this term embraces the benefit of flexibility, to get into or out of contracts, to be able to increase or reduce capacity or costs more quickly, to be able to innovate and change with circumstances.
Your value proposition will essentially be built of these elements, in simplistic terms. There will be a trade-off and perhaps negotiation to find the balance that suits both parties. There is also the comparison the buyer makes to weigh up your value proposition and decide if it is more attractive than what your competitors offer.
Two powerful buyer motivations have been identified, and these can be used as part of your value proposition and messaging.
- To move away from pain – pain in business can come in many forms, from being let down by an existing supplier in some way, where the price or cost is too high, etc. and can be mapped against the four benefit areas above. Your value may be to reduce or remove this pain. This can be a compelling reason for a buyer to make a decision.
- To move towards gain – gain in business extends these four dimensions. It is strong when the business buyer has a big goal or objective, such as to double turnover in 2 years. Without a strong driver it is easy for the buyer to maintain the status quo and postpone a decision until another time, and this can come across in all manner of reasons.
Understanding the value and benefits that you and your company deliver in the eyes of your customers and prospective customers lies at the heart of defining and differentiating yourself and your value proposition from your competition.
Aligning with, or creating, compelling reasons to purchase may well be the deciding factor between winners and losers, in the increasingly competitive market.
Become a sales leader
Differentiation through leadership in one aspect of what you do, while also ‘meeting requirements’ in every other aspect, in the eyes of your customers, is a position worth striving for. Identifying and defining the niche or niches, categories, segments or markets where you can achieve this is part of the process. Failure to do this will make business much harder.
This leadership approach will provide the backbone for your entire marketing and sales activity – from how you attract and engage with prospects, how you nurture and sell to them, and then how you deliver and recycle.
To find out more about how to develop your personal brand, position yourself as a valuable leader in the eyes of your prospects and customers and Connect LinkedIn with Sales with Wurlwind.