How Self-Absorbed Are Your Value Propositions?

What’s in it for the customer? From day one of a sales career, the necessity of thinking in that context is crystal clear. Everybody knows it. Everybody believes it. It’s intuitively obvious!!! BUT …sometimes the obvious is not so easy to execute…

Ready for another humbling experience? Here’s your mission… Randomly choose five quotes and/or proposals that you and/or your team have submitted to key accounts over the last six months. Choose five more that were offered to prospective new accounts. Sort them into three piles.

Pile 1 is the “Mine” pile. It will contain those proposals that talk mainly about why and how your product or service is the best option for that particular customer. All of the classic quotes that do no more than state a price go here. Those that describe features and how they apply to this customer also go here. Those that go that (really tough) extra mile and describe your “value add” stay here too.

Pile 2 is the “Yours” pile. The minimum required to graduate to this level is a clear, quantified, un-self-absorbed statement of the customer’s Total Cost of Ownership or TCO. “My price is lower than their price,” doesn’t cut it. If value add is provided for free or bundled into the price of the product/service, return to pile 1.

The TCO analysis must include the “before” and “after” total cost of at least the major tasks performed by customer personnel related to this purchase. These could be things like design, acquisition, receiving, inspection, additional processing, testing, combination with other products and services, marketing, support, service and warranty claims. (You might notice that this will require an in-depth familiarity with the customer’s value chain and associated costs as well as a certain degree of comfort with financial statements and analysis.)

Pile 3 is the “Ours” pile. Many of you won’t have one. (Some might not even have a “Yours” pile.) The proposals here include an analysis of the total financial impact on both the customer and your own company. The perspective here is taking cost out of both value chains and/or adding value to both value chains. These proposals will provide incentives for you and your customer to customize and rationalize everything about the sum total of all of your interactions.

Before I ask you to think about it, recognize the magnitude of the change I’m suggesting here. How many of your reps are up to the task of thoroughly and deeply analyzing all of the myriad aspects of both internal and customer business processes as well as how they interact and affect each other? They’ll need to understand process and process engineering. They’ll need to understand financial analysis. They’ll need to get to know and establish credibility with people both up and across the customer’s organization. (including those “C-level” folks like CEO, CFO, etc.)

Bottom line, enabling the majority of your reps to build pile 2 and 3 value statements won’t be easy or quick. With the right leadership, though, it is doable. And the fact is, if you don’t, your competitors will. OK, now…

Think about it…

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