We often get asked to help salespeople craft their cold-calling script so that the recipient drools at the very thought of meeting with the salesperson and has sleepless nights waiting for the presentation that will change their lives for the better.
This utopian situation doesn’t occur very often/quite often/seldom/hardly ever/once in a blue moon/never in world history (delete as applicable)
What’s happening here, then? Why would many salespeople find it hard to get in touch with a company to arrange an appointment to show them products that will improve their lives or businesses?
We know the reasons. Most sales calls are desperately poor in their production and execution. They rarely, if ever, have the prospect feeling that they should spare their valuable time being sold to.
It requires a proposition that builds value in the prospect’s eyes in actually allowing you to take some of their valuable time. Known as your ’value-proposition’ , it offers the chance for you to show how others have gained results from your products or services.
In simple terms, a “value proposition” is the sum of the total benefits that customers receive when they purchase a specific product or service from your organisation. Your product or service value proposition is a powerful, compelling statement designed to capture the mind and the heart of your customers by demonstrating a relevant advantage in buying from you.
Getting the value proposition right for what your business sells is so important, because it provides the basis for your business relationship with your customers; and answers the question foremost in every potential customer’s mind: ‘Why should I buy from you?’
Most salespeople, however, use the initial contact as a chance to practice their product knowledge by outlining what they sell and what they do. Quite frankly, at this stage the prospect isn’t interested.
What is it at this stage that the customer/prospect wants to hear from you?
Put simply, it’s a statement that demonstrates that you understand their situation – that you recognise the problem they wish to solve, or the outcome they wish to achieve -followed by a specific offer or explanations as to how you are going to help them address their situation.
Ideally, the value proposition will not only explain how owning your product or using your service will allow the customer to achieve a desired outcome; it will also explain how it is that your business is uniquely positioned to create that outcome.
So it should focus on the results your prospect will achieve, rather than the features or benefits of the product itself.
So, DO NOT explain the product or services you sell, or outline their features.
INSTEAD, detail the benefits to the customer of owning your products or retaining your services.
Weak statements would include:
“We’re the best in class”
“We improve morale and motivation”
“Ours lasts longer than the competition’s offering”
Yeah, yeah, yada, yada, yada.
How can I say this politely?
They’re Not Interested!
Today, you need to have a strong value proposition to break through the noise and pressure they are feeling from all sides. You need to speak to the critical issues they are facing, be they production, staff turnover, cash-flow, technical issues, profitability, stemming losses, health and safety, or others.
How about a stronger value proposition?
“We’ve helped our last 15 clients increase their turnover by an average of 9% in two years, and their profitability by over 12%. All without having to cut costs or make redundancies”
That helps prospects see the real value that you can offer and helps them make the decision to see you as soon as possible, just to see if their business could benefit in the same way. By talking about results rather than products (which are what customers really buy, isn’t it?), you create reasons for them to accept your proposition of a meeting or presentation.
So, don’t talk about what you do or how you do it; talk about the results of what you do and how the prospect will reap those rewards with you.
MTD Sales Training
(Image by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
One of our clients had a particular dilemma, described here by one of the sales team:
“Our clients think our products are just a commodity, and so mainly focus on the price against our competition. We know that our products are different, have differential qualities and will be better for our prospects than our competition’s will. What can we do about this?”
Interesting question. Remember, the perception of your products and services are in the eyes of the customer. If they think you’re cheap, then you’re cheap. If they think you’re lousy, then you’re lousy. No amount of marketing or brochure blurb will influence that if it’s ingrained.
What should you do? Here’s a checklist to ensure your customers see your products as different in many ways.
1) Be absolutely honest and truthful about your products’ appeal to the marketplace. Are they really different, to everyone you meet? Or do they just offer value to specific customers with specific needs? You could have a niche product. But who does it appeal to?
If you really think your products are special, then…
2) Do you have a great story about your offerings that make the value and benefits come alive? If so, how do you prove it to the customer? Have you got testimonials and references of the results others have got? Specify what your product will do for this actual customer, based on what other similar companies have experienced.
3) Have you created enough opportunities with the decision-makers to prove how valuable your offer would be to their business? Remember, the decision-makers may not be the end-users, and they might not be able to perceive the real differences between yours and the competitive offerings.
4) Have you become so focused on price differentials that the real value of your products has been clouded over? You must be capable of really detailing the story of what your products will do, for THIS specific customer.
5) Think seriously about the results you’re promising from your products. Are they of real benefit to the customer? For instance, one photocopying supplier we worked with tried to sell the value of their machines by saying it saved three seconds of time in printing 100 copies over the prospect’s current machine. The prospect couldn’t see the real value in that. It simply didn’t justify the changes they would have had to go through in order to get our client on their supplier list. So, identify what is of real value to the prospect and help them see what it would do for them in terms that are valuable to them.
By being aware that customers will focus on price if there’s nothing else to differentiate you, you are able to determine what could be important enough to this specific customer to warrant you referring to them.
MTD Sales Training
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How many times have you been told to sell your USP? You highlight how you can help your customer by selling something that is unique to you and your company.
Many salespeople struggle with this because they have very little (if anything) that is unique to their business. The competition sell similar products, the guarantees are the same, the services differ very little; so how can you sell something that is unique to you?
Start by asking yourself some questions that will focus in on the differentials you can bring to their business.
In what way can your product or service increase their revenues? This concentrates on what you can specifically do to help them achieve their goals, better than your competition can.
Put yourself in their shoes. How many more products could they sell that you supply? Research what their market potential is so you can assist them in developing new markets.
How much are those sales going to be worth to their bottom line, and how are you uniquely positioned to help them achieve them? This puts you in clear contention to be their favoured supplier.
If you sell items that will reduce costs, how much will your products and services save them in terms of stocking and other overheads? Maybe this is an area that can be highlighted?
Another question: How will you help the customer deliver better performance to their clients? If you make them look good, they will thank you for it by becoming a loyal customer.
Here’s another: What after-sales support can you offer that would reduce the risks of a new prospect using you for the first time? That risk-reduction could make the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.
How will you help the customer reduce the negative impact of the problem they are facing? Address all the problems they face that has an effect on revenue and profit.
How can you ensure your company offers solutions no one else does? Make sure these are quantifiable to the client.
These questions will help you achieve that level of uniqueness in the customers eyes, and make you stand out above the rest, in your quest for partnering with businesses.
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MTD Sales Training
I just received an email from someone (who we will call Helen) who sells educational products.
Helen wanted to know how to weave her USP’s like “100% moneyback guarantee” and “better account management” into her sales pitch when developing new business.
Let me tell you right off the bat that these are NOT USP’s.
These are “givens”
If you’re stating that 100% moneyback guarantees are unique then you are not doing your homework on your competitors! They are most likely saying the same things to the same prospects who you want to get business from!
Nothing becomes unique. And if you add to the mixer that your prospects expectation levels are higher than ever before than it’s a wonder that you don’t receive a “So what?” from them when you say that they’ll get their moneyback and replacement if your widgets do not do their job as they should.
Well, boo bloomin hoo!
Here’s what you should do:
Now you should know and appreciate that most USP’s are not unique and you can actually use this to your advantage. You can even elude to most of your competitors USP’s in your sales pitch. For example:
“Now the companies that have met with you to discuss their widgets have most likely promised you “Better service levels” and a “100% moneyback guarantees” as their unique selling propositions but we believe that these are standard and are services that you should expect to receive as a given. That’s why our money back guarantees are truly unique because no-one in the marketplace is offering such a guarantee. You can purchase 20 of our widgets today and if any of them breakdown we will not just give you a full refund and replace them but we’ll give you a full refund, replace them all plus we’ll give you an additional 50 widgets….”
Now that guarantee is a USP! It’s unique! A simple 100% moneyback guarantee is just “a given” in todays marketplace.
Now is a good time at the end of the year to review your current USP’s and ask yourself whether they are really unique or not? What makes you stand out from the rest? And how can you put down other suppliers USP’s in your sales presentations without putting them down (if you know what I mean!)