Archive | Value Propositions

Matrix Section – Destination Pages for Social Selling Activity

Value Propositions – packaging knowledge to support Social Selling

Wurlwind Social Selling - Value Propositions
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and valuable when it solves problems.

And in business the value increases as we solve bigger and bigger problems, helping people to save time and money, to make money, to reduce risk and so on.

But time is precious, so the challenge is to maximise our value to prospects and customers and minimise the time spent on relatively low value activities.

The good news is that, with a bit of thought and preparation, we can make buying and selling easier by having packaged value propositions.

For the provider or vendor, packaged knowledge becomes easier to sell and to deliver multiple times, and is something to offer and promote through LinkedIn.

And for the buyer it is more tangible to buy, and lower risk if there are recommendations from other happy buyers, and it makes referrals and introductions easier.

And these packages don’t all have to be exchanged for money. They may be offered in exchange for information from the prospect, for example their email address, or filling in a form, or exchanged for their time, for example an exploratory meeting.

Quick start tips

There is a booming market for information products, especially for diagnostics and for training, so this is a good place to start looking for ideas.

  • Could you create a simple information product that you can give away in exchange for an email address or business card?
  • Could you provide a diagnostic or advisory product that enough people would pay £97 or similar for?
  • Could you package your high value products as a framework or methodology around which there are tailoring and customising options?

The additional benefit of this is to raise your credibility as an expert in your area, having invested to create product and gain social proof, endorsements, testimonials and recommendations.

Tips to identify what value propositions are worth packaging

On a simple basis there are three steps to making a sales: Get the buyer’s ATTENTION. Get their TIME. Get their MONEY. And these steps are reflected below.

1. What could you package and offer on a website registration page or in exchange for a business card?

Contact us forms and newsletter subscriptions are passe, as most prospects are looking for something with a much more tangible payback before they part with their email address these days

  • If you’re a Business Leader or Business Owner you could share your insights and expertise by having a book or presentation or even a video made where you impart some of your wisdom.
  • If you’re a Sales Leader or Sales Professional you could develop a compilation of client case studies as a PDF document to email to people on request
  • This is not the time to pitch product, but to assist the buyer to recognise ‘do we have a problem/opportunity?’ and how do I quickly investigate whether there’s a business case for more detailed investigation

Sales Pages and Landing Pages are the foundation of lead generation campaigns, and the payback of the packaged resource behind them is something that can be offered through LinkedIn.

2. Can you turn lead nurture on its head and turn it into Commercial Teaching?

Considered purchases entail research, not just into vendor solutions but also into internal costs and implementation. Vendors who help buyers, including business sponsors and line managers, to do their jobs better can become trusted advisors and heavily influence the purchase.

  • If there’s a time delay between initial interest and the purchase decision (for luke-warm prospects) it works well to deliver Commercial Teaching over a period of time, in which case an email sequence of suitable content could be very effective, and is trackable too.
  • If there is one principle buyer then a 1:1 meeting with an educational agenda, perhaps with some preparatory work for them plus some follow-on steps may be applicable
  • If there are several people involved in the purchase then buyer facilitation to shape the agenda and equip them to gain consensus and actually move forward could be best achieved in a group workshop.

Consider the buying timetable and the decision-making group (research via LinkedIn) and the issues they need to address in order to make a purchase as part of planning your packaged value proposition for this stage in the sales process.

3. Can you create an entry level chargeable educational product to offer?

There may be many people who have limited budgets but who also have a desire to gain an understanding, knowledge and skills in the topic you are an expert in.

  • Can you compile a list of questions that they are asking, plus those you know they should be asking, and structure them into a logical sequence?
  • Is the local market large enough, and the value high enough, for people to come to a training workshop at a suitable venue on a particular day?
  • Can the teaching be delivered at a distance, through webinars and online training (and do you have / can you get the resources to promote and administer this?)
  • Or maybe you can package and deliver this to larger clients on a company by company basis on their premises.

There are many variations available, to support the purchase / sale while also qualifying intent and earning income (or at least contributing to marketing and sales costs) along the way.

Notifying people of the course availability via LinkedIn is an option, and to advise 1st connections to see if the know anyone who would benefit from it.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

The APPS approach to a compelling customer value proposition

For most business owners, sales managers and sales people the priority is sales and lead generation.

Social Media is relatively new and Social Selling is a very new concept. But, definitions apart, are your customers buying in different ways now to say 3-5 years ago? Are you making purchases in different ways? Buying is changing and Social Selling is a response that in some ways counters that buying change.

The Internet, Search and Content, Social Networks and profiles, mobile devices and more are having a fundamental impact on the way that buyers buy. Research indicates that they are perhaps 70% of the way through the purchase process before they talk to a sales person. And buyers have developed elaborate means to avoid being interrupted or distracted by an idea or a product or service that is not on their agenda.

If you are interested in ideas, approaches and strategies for lead generation and social selling read through this page. What is outlined is a strategy that connects Social with Sales, that provides linkages between B2B selling and buying that can be directly supported by Social Networks, particularly LinkedIn. Businesses who are already using Social Selling techniques are reporting significant benefits, and sales people who are leveraging social media are performing better against their targets than those who aren’t using Social, yet.

Take just a minute to review the Fours Steps of the APPS approach and see if they could improve your value proposition and sales messaging.

ALIGN – the foundation for a strong value proposition

Buyers now have access to so much information, research, news, comment, that it’s become a noisy market and hard to be heard. Choosing to align with buyers is a strategy that pays dividends at many levels.  To illustrate the point, here are four levels to consider:

  • Market and Sector Trends – as an expert in your field you should know what the big trends are. Maybe there are regulatory changes, cycles such as consolidation or diversification, in-sourcing versus out-sourcing, innovation and new technology impacting a market. How do these impact your potential customers, and how do you align with them, and can you interpret them for your target audience? You can keep tabs on trends through online sources, thought-leaders and others in Social Media, especially LinkedIn.
  • Company or Organisation Goals – companies you are targeting as potential customers will have goals and objectives.  Maybe they want expansion and increasing sales, is it developing and launching new products into new markets, is it retaining existing customers and protecting market share.  Try to identify what these are, and align with them. You can identify key company information from their website, search and through Social Media.
  • Department or Position Goals – what is it that the VP, C-Level Executive, Departmental head, and those around and reporting to them needs to achieve as part of their role in the organisation, to support the tactical, operational and strategic aims of the business? Identifying who’s who in a company, and some insight into their official responsibilities can be gained from LinkedIn.
  • Personal Goals and Interests – where people have a LinkedIn profile and if they also post status updates it may be possible to develop a picture or profile of the individual, and from that identify how to align with their emotional needs. Are they an ambitious high-achiever looking for promotion? Are they keen on a healthy work-life balance? Are they putting back into the business or domestic community? These and other aspects can be gleaned from Social Media and used to align your message.

Going with the flow is a lot easier than swimming against the tide, at each of these levels. Having a unique angle is important though, in order to cut through the noise, as an individual and as a company. Are you 95% aligned and 5% unique in your approach?

Being Disruptive and Challenging is effective too!

The ability to disrupt and to challenge buyers and the buying process is a strategy or technique that can also be very effective. The ability to be a CHALLENGER, to move your prospect out of their comfort zone and guide them to a ‘better place’ can be an extremely powerful sales technique. Tactically you might start by sending a thought-leadership article or invite your target prospect to a trade conference or network meeting. This may be suitably disruptive to their train of thought to make it Stand-Out! Intercepting a deal that’s about to be signed with a competitor is another disruptive example.

Being trained and equipped to engage in a discussion with senior execs about how they could significantly change the performance of their business, division or role is a sales strategy that is gathering momentum. Helping them to see and then to Align with a different paradigm is a way to add business value and create deep differentiation. Combining this with  digital media such as LinkedIn and techniques including Social Selling has the potential to really ramp up your sales performance.   

PRIORITY – where social selling can give you the edge

The Status Quo is where most people, departments and companies operate, for most of the time. The plans have been drawn up and now it’s execution time, focusing on the job in hand. Against this backdrop it’s very difficult to gain attention and achieve a break-through with your lead generation campaigns. New ideas, new suppliers, new products and solutions take time and attention to understand, evaluate, gain support for and implement. There is a career and business risk associated with alternatives to the status quo, at the wrong time.

However, a Trigger Event is often the catalyst for people to look for a new ideas, solutions, suppliers and so on. For some reason the Status Quo is no longer acceptable. Alternatives are required. Time and attention will be allocated to looking. What are the Trigger Events for your target customers? When someone changes job this often triggers change. When there’s an internal initiative such as a product launch or exhibition. When there’s an external change, such as a competitor challenging them, or a supplier has gone out of business. LinkedIn and Social Media is a great way to find, or be alerted to, Trigger Events.

Having identified a Trigger Event you may need to gather further information to decide what to do, and again LinkedIn can help.

And then you may decide to contact people to follow-through on your decision, to outline how you can help. Since you can align better with what they are now looking to achieve, and again LinkedIn can play a big role, your chances of engaging with the right person at the right time with the right message are greatly improved. Bear in mind that your smarter competitors may also be on the case too.

PAYBACK – where social proof can re-inforce your case

How often do you check out a person on LinkedIn, before deciding whether to take or return their call, or in preparation for a meeting. Their personal profile can enhance or diminish their standing in your eyes. Likewise you might check out the LinkedIn Company Page as well as the website for the company they represent. Are there strong and relevant testimonials and case studies? Can they clearly add value to your business? At each stage of the buying process is it worthwhile to invest time with this person and company?  And when it comes to part with money, can you be confident that there is a business case, and that the supplier will help you to sell it internally and then achieve the results. LinkedIn is one place where potential buyers can whittle out potential suppliers before reaching a short-list and engage more directly with them.

SIMPLE – the key to effective lead generation

You know too well that there are not enough hours in the working day and tasks need to be heavily prioritised, and many will not be tackled. When a potential supplier makes things simple to understand, simple to act upon, and simple to implement, that represents a time saving, or reduces the investment of time needed. Are your marketing and sales messages simple to communicate and understand? Phrasing them in ways that buyers can understand is a start, talking about outcomes and benefits and examples, and Social Networks like LinkedIn area great place to put these messages across. Are your products and services simple to buy and to implement? Educating buyers in different ways relevant to the questions they ask is another way to make things simple. Again, LinkedIn is a great place to highlight your educational resources, which might be in PDF documents, Slide presentations, Video or other formats.

Is your Customer Value Proposition compelling?

Take a moment to review your LinkedIn Profile, your LinkedIn Company Page, your website home page and other places where your prospects will see you. How well do they score on a 1-10 basis against each of these 4 criteria?

If you’d like us to make a quick independent assessment and provide feedback please send me an email including any relevant website URLs you’d like us to look at. We’d be delighted to provide feedback to you.

Business Innovation – ideas for business models to gain competitive advantage

Do you have a plan for business innovation, to make sure your business model is fit for the future, in light of market changes and innovations elsewhere?

What is having an impact your market? What is creating new opportunities? Legislation, technology and demographics are just three drivers of change.

I invite you to take a look at the thoughts and ideas below, and some carefully selected resources from respected thought-leaders, as a stimulus for your own creative thinking and innovation for your business.

Business Innovation can open a Global Opportunity

Global changes are creating business opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes and in all markets.

To pick just three from a wide range of changes, opportunities, and challenges:

  • Mobile phones – and the ability to access information while on the move, and the personal, location specific marketing opportunities being created
  • Cloud computing – and the ability to create and deploy applications quickly, globally and to create trading portals and online communities that can be monetized
  • Social Media – and the ability to find, be found, connect and communicate with people globally much more swiftly, but also to share views and ideas, and collaborate globally as well.

Which changes will have the most profound impact on your market?

Agility – the fourth competitive advantage

Competitive advantage was defined by Michael Porter in 1980 in three dimensions: ‘Best Product’, or ‘Lowest Cost’, or ‘Closest to Customer’. Now, a generation later, all three are important, and the benchmark in each area is much higher.

More recently a fourth dimension has emerged, ‘Most Agile’. The ability to implement changes rapidly, and successfully, is becoming a significant competitive advantage.

  • This might mean launching new products more quickly, as is evident in the motor industry for example.
  • It might mean changing processes more quickly, as is happening in software development and release, with Agile and SCRUM methodologies.
  • It might mean re-purposing value quickly, for example turning a service into a product (Banking and Financial Services for example), or a product into a service (Software as a s Service) .

These need to be grounded on a sense of what the market and customers are looking for, based on innovators instinct (Steve Jobs, James Dyson) or methodical research, of a bit of both.

Where do you get your inspiration for business innovation from?

There are many fantastic sources of ideas and insight, from thought-leaders with many backgrounds.

Your sector

Looking within your industry and seeing what the innovators and role models are doing elsewhere, through trade magazines and conferences is one source. There is a danger of being a ‘me-too’ player though.

Other sectors

Looking at other industries and examples is another. There are now even more publications and information sources available, via the Internet. LinkedIn for example now features thought-leaders who you can follow and read, if you have time and inclination. Tapping into quality sources of great ideas and thinking will probably pay dividends, over listening to gloom and doom of mainstream news media, or pulp fiction of too many television dramas and soaps.

Thought leaders

Through social media it’s now much easier to find thought leaders. There are thousands in LinkedIn for example. It is possible now to Follow them without needed to make a connection. There are also millions of blogs and twitter accounts where you can identify people with interesting views. However, it can take a huge amount of time to read articles only to find they are of dubious quality. I’ve identified some of te thought leaders who have provided ideas that have helped me and my business innovation.

Sources of Business Innovation I respect

Some thought-leaders and inspiration sources that have had a profound effect on my thinking are highlighted below. I hope you find them interesting and useful too.

Roger James Hamilton – Fast Forward Your Business

Roger has an amazing view of the seismic and game-changing drivers in the global economy, and a very engaging way of sharing them. He has refined the changes to ten, which he updates annually, which fuels his speaking tours. I was introduced to Roger and his thinking by Topher Morrison via John Cato and I attended one of his events in London in 2011. He records many of his events and they are available via YouTube. To give you an example, one of the ten trends is A.I. Artificial Intelligence. This is reaching the surface not just in decision-support, such as self-service database searches but also in business operations. Customer support call-centres are starting to implement A.I. to handle inquiries. If it enables me to achieve what I want in less time and lower cost then I for one don’t mind.

Roger has also developed a diagnostic tool to provide guidance into people’s entrepreneurial strengths. Although he refers to it as a Wealth Profile, at it’s core is an extremely well developed and presented personality profile model specifically for entrepreneurs and people in business. I’ve found it provide great insight and clarity into my own strengths, and roles that fit with those strengths, and also to identify complementary strengths to partner up with. I hope you are able to find similar clarity from it.

Take your Wealth Profile test Now!

Tom Peters – Re-imagine!

What impressed me about the thinking that went into this book was not just the range of ideas and the visual treatment but also that Tom actually wrote it. He was a successful corporate consultant and speaker who could have gone into comfortable retirement. But instead he chose to share some really profound observations and insight into the way the world and business was changing.

As well as demographic changes, particularly the implications of the the aging population and the increasing importance of women, he also puts forward some radical and innovative ideas about redefining the relationship with customers, and the nature of work itself.

Business Model Generation – Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

Customer Value Propositions come in many forms, and business structures and models define and reflect these, with greater or lesser success. Simple models, to grow, to make, to sell are evolving as the eco-system and extended supply chain  creates opportunities that are new, or under-served by others. Their proposition covers 9 elements that are in the business model mix. These can prompt entrepreneurs and business owners to evaluate the relative importance of these in their market, and their relative performance as a business.

There are many case studies presented, for example looking at Amazon and their assessment of their strengths in fulfillment and Web IT, and the rationale for their development of the web services business – leveraging their strengths to meet a growing and under-served market need.

If you have found inspiration here or elsewhere, and you’d like to share it, please join the discussion.

B2B value – how to align your value with what buyers look for

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.

Buyer motivation

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.

 

Four Buying Scenarios to help you sell profitable business solutions

B2B Solution Buying Scenarios Slide

B2B Solution Scenarios – Can or Can’t the Buyer or Vendor ‘see’ the need and the solution? (click to enlarge)

Several years ago I found a B2B sales model that looked at different buying scenarios and how to approach the sale in these situations.

I was reminded of it the other day, as the model is also applicable to marketing and sales strategy, positioning, messaging in content marketing, and indeed many aspects of the B2B sales funnel.

You may gain insight from this model to help you assess your proposition and your prospects perception of their requirements. You may then be able to re-frame the requirements in ways that are more favourable to you, and increase your value in the eyes of your prospect.

Four Buying Scenarios

The axis of the model is essentially about whether the buyer or seller can or can’t see the problem and solution.

Whether you are a vendor or a buyer, by making a more accurate assessment of your situation and the situation of the other party you can increase the likelihood of a win:win – with a better quality solution and relationship, and save time and money.

Alternatively, if you start off on the wrong footing in your marketing and sales, or in the buying process, or if the position changes during the course of the sales or buying process, it can lead to unfortunate consequences.

Vendor perspective

For the vendor it could lead to the loss of the sale, (if a competitor engineers the situation to their advantage), or loss of profit if you win the business on the wrong basis.

Two big implications of these buying scenarios for vendors and their marketing and sales are:

  •     on your market positioning, content marketing and lead nurture
  •     on your qualification process, either as a fact-find or lead-scoring

Recognising these buying scenarios, and agreeing the ‘ideal’ sales lead criteria between marketing and sales based on this will help to increase lead conversion, sales revenue and profitability.

Buyer perspective

For the buyer it could lead to having a short-list of vendors with the wrong capabilities, or selecting a supplier without strengths in key areas that would make a project successful, or with a commercial arrangement that is unsustainable.

Two big implications for buyers and their approach to procurement are:

  •     do the work internally to determine what the scope and requirements are
  •     be conscious of what skills potential providers bring, and the value of those skills

Involving an external party to assist with requirements assessment, prioritisation etc. could be money well spent at the end of the project, equivalent to using an architect or an engineer to help with equivalent projects.

To illustrate the four different buying scenarios below I’ll refer to a website design and build project.

Four Buying Scenarios based on buyer & seller viewpoint

B2B Solution Scenarios Slide

1. Both Seller and Buyer can see the need and solution

This situation is fairly transactional and may exhibit characteristics of a commodity market. The buyer knows they have a need, they (think they) know what type of organisations can deliver, they can Google key phrases, give a clear brief for the requirement, and so on. The sales organisation supplies a quote or responding to a tender. The vendor has probably delivered similar solutions many times before therefore can accurately price, deliver and make a profit.

Other examples that come to mind include stationery, print, IT hardware like PCs and printers, some professional services, some marketing services, and a lot of lower cost public sector procurement. The Hosted, SaaS applications for Marketing and Sales are typically being offered on this basis. In the website design and build example it applies when there is a clear-cut case of a ‘simple’ new or replacement website.

Challenges for the vendor include, how to differentiate where price is often the main criteria, whether there is scope to move the requirement into another area in order to create differentiation, and conversely how to avoid the scope creeping into other areas while still being price competitive and making a profit.

2. The buyer can see the problem and solution but the vendor can’t.

This situation is more project based and consultative. When the buyer has a fairly clear idea of the pain and the solution that would relieve the pain, but their specifics are fairly unique, then the vendor needs to undertake a fairly thorough fact-find, diagnostic, and explore the boundaries of what the buyer has in mind.

Marketing Campaigns and IT systems are example in this area. The marketing campaign probably needs to fit with other marketing activities, with brand guidelines, with communications and sales channels etc. The buyer knows what these are, and it’s important that the seller establishes what these are, in order to come up with a creative solution and an appropriate price.

A larger and more complex website design and build project needs to take these into account as well as technology and integration with other systems that may be required to create a more integrated marketing and sales solution. This might mean integrating into back-office systems, or to an existing Sales Force Automation (SFA) or Customer Relationship management (CRM) system. Uncovering and suggesting how these needs can be met is a great way for a vendor to add value and create differentiation. Failure to uncover these requirements can seriously compromise the bid and the project, allowing another vendor to win the business, or the supplier wins the business at an unrealistic price.

3. The vendor can see the problem and solution but the buyer can’t.

This is typically where new ideas, innovations, products and solutions have been developed and are being brought to market. There is a good deal of awareness raising and educating the market required in order that the vendor can develop a pipeline of opportunities. There needs to be a focus on creating a need, based on a mix of developing the sense of pain that the prospective buyer may not even be aware of, and the vision of the potential gains.

The technology sector, and particularly technology for marketing and sales area typify this, due to the innovative nature of the sector. Cloud-based applications is one such area recently, where initial awareness needed to be raised, then concerns about things like security and resilience needed to be addressed. Within 2-3 years there is a much greater market awareness and acceptance of this approach. This has paved the way for the myriad of hosted application providers and solutions that are clamouring for our attention.

Back to the website example, the addition and integration of social media, email marketing, marketing automation, and many other applications around the website content publishing capability are areas of added value to the client. Going one step further, marketing and selling these additional applications as discrete areas can establish a foothold for a subsequent website redesign and rebuild with new clients.

4. Neither the Buyer nor the Vendor can see the problem or the solution.

This scenario is typified by change management and a partnership approach. Senior management in large businesses may recognise a business issue as a starting position, and call in management consultants to help them to identify business performance issues, and corrective actions. Small and mid-sized businesses may end up in this scenario through evolution from one of the other examples.

Getting into this situation may be the underlying reason why many IT projects, especially those for Marketing and Sales systems, end up failing to meet expectations or even to be delivered at all. The complexity of integrated IT, combined with the close inter-relationship with business processes, (that may need to be improved as well as mapped onto a new application), and with people who will need training on the new system, (and who’s roles may change, and who may be resistant to change for many reasons), adds a whole range of different demands onto a project.

To return to the website example, integrating a website with back-office and CRM systems, introducing sophisticated email marketing, introducing automation of lead generation campaigns, lead scoring, workflow, triggers, and so-on needs a level of understanding and indeed of updating to business processes, and also an impact on people within the organisation.

A supplier who has this range of skills may not be the first choice for an organisation who considers that what they need is ‘a new website’, and has budgeted accordingly. However, having selected a supplier that can ‘design and build a website’, if the requirements and scope increases, and the factors that create significant business benefits impact on business processes and people, there comes a point where there may be a fundamental mis-match in expectations and capabilities, in both buyer and vendor organisations.

An independent assessment of Buying Scenarios

One way for senior management of businesses to improve their marketing and sales, increase the potential benefits and align expectations and capabilities while reducing risk is to commission an independent assessment.

The value to a business owner, director or senior manager of a Review and Action Plan is that it identifies quick wins and long term strategy and benefits, along with resource requirements and risks. This enables a more informed decision to be made, before engaging potential delivery partners, or investing time in trial and error evaluation of ‘free trials’ of various marketing and sales applications.

There are also benefits to marketing agencies and website design and build companies of including a senior business development and systems strategy consultant on their team. This could be during the pitch and proposal stage, or having won or even started to deliver a project, and when discussing subsequent phases to grow an existing client.

Aligning your LinkedIn Activity with these scenarios

Your prospects may fall neatly into one of the four categories. In which case your LinkedIn activity can be very focused on them, their needs, and their buying process.

More likely your prospects could be in any of the situations. In which case you have a wonderful opportunity to educate them about the different elements in their research and definition of needs.

If you’d like to explore any of these ideas and develop your positioning, sales messaging and/or your LinkedIn profile(s), page and activity, then click the image below and set up a call with me, Mark Stonham. And let’s see which one of us can or can’t see a way to improve your lead generation, sales campaigns and sales conversions.

Linkedwin LinkedIn Review Masthead Image

 

How well do you deliver value to your customers?

Once you’ve sold something and your customer has bought they expect to receive value. They will have expectations about what this value is, and also when it will be realised and how much effort they will need to put in to realise it. There is an opportunity to over-deliver in each of these areas and to create delighted customers.

And when you deliver value that’s a great time to ask your customers for testimonials, referrals and case studies. This is powerful social proof that will help you to build your credibility and attract new inquiries and leads.

Here are several ways to look at value.

Increase the value

Value can be a complex issue in B2B markets and sectors. However, bottom-line benefits are often in the areas of increased revenue, reduced costs, compliance, risk reduction or rate of change. You’ll understand and communicate the value of your proposition, product or service throughout your marketing and sales activities, making it applicable to large groups, small groups and individuals as you progress from general to specific.

The source of your value

Your value is probably tied in with your knowledge about achieving specific outcomes. You may package this knowledge in many ways; in a physical product, in a service, in an application, in a campaign, and in other ways. The key is to deliver something of high value to your customer that costs you considerably less to deliver. You’ll no-doubt understand the implications of delivering something of low value that costs you a lot to deliver.

Levels of value

The adage of  ‘cheaper, faster, better’, is a good summary of the different levels of value and benefit:

  • Something Cheaper cuts the cost from what they were paying before and involves minimal change
  • If it’s Faster then the benefit may be in productivity or responsiveness, and involves more change
  • And if Better, its doing something is a different way, or doing something different and may require considerable change

If you have options that tick all of these criteria there may be scope to re-package some of your offering so it specifically addressed just one of these one of these criteria, creating opportunities to extend your range, and align sales pipeline and delivery accordingly.

Reduce the time-to-value

There’s a difference between receiving value almost immediately – the instant gratification – and receiving value in the distant future. Discounted cashflow and similar are ways to compare these. And the market trend is towards quick-wins, for many reasons, such as delayed value increases the risk of non-achievements, and the sponsor or some critical resource or factor to achieve value may change in the mean-time. If you can halve the time to value for your clients then that will put you art a competitive advantage to where you are today.

Reduce the effort-to-value

In B2B sales there is often some or considerable effort that the customer needs to undertake to realise value. Learning about a new product, installation, integration, updating policy and procedures, embedding it into the organisation and so-on all require effort and resource. If you are able to use your experience to simplify this, to reduce the planning, and execution, reduce the learning and integration curve and reduce the risk, on the champion or sponsor personally, on the team or department and on the organisation as a whole, thene you are creating a significant advantage for yourselves.

Return on Investment

This is a complex area, but consider that the ROI your customer achieves is a mix of the three dimensions above.

  • There is an absolute, WHAT  financial value they are likely to realise
  • There is a time based element to WHEN they realise the value
  • There is an effort element about HOW they realise the value,

Review the ways you deliver value to your customers

  1. Summarise the different value points you deliver to customers, and identify commonalities or clusters
  2. Ask your customers what value they receive, and you may be surprised what they respond with
  3. Compare the two and investigate any discrepancies, you may be over-delivering, or missing opportunities
  4. Increase the number of value points you offer to customers – creating entry points and upsell, downsell opportunities
  5. Look for ways to reduce the time to value, and reduce the client effort required, through product or service design, support enhancements, implementation and training, delivery improvements and more.

Whether you deliver value in the form of a service or a product, there are things you can do to enhance the customer experience of realising value. An independent review and assessment can provide valuable insight and ideas that you may not have identified or considered, and well as helping you to evaluate and prioritise ideas that are on your to-do list.

Customer testimonials and referrals

Have you made it part of your processes to ask for referrals and testimonials from customers on a regular basis?

If you’ve found this useful then please share with your colleagues and contacts.