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Posts Tagged ‘value proposition’

What Not to Do On a Sales Call

We recently had a call with a company who does excellent marketing and lead generation work. Their messaging is clear and consistent with no sales jargon or company-focused language. And, they push out a great variety of content including survey results, articles and engaging videos. So, we were expecting the same level of quality and seamlessness from their sales process.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. Here’s why the call blew up:

(1)    They didn’t do their research.

They started off by asking us to tell them a little bit about what we do and what we were looking to achieve on the call, immediately handing over the reigns as opposed to leading. We’ve said before that, during sales conversations, it’s critical to answer the questions prospect’s don’t know to ask by challenging them to think, proposing new ideas and revealing creative ways that you can help them. Instead, without research, the first portion of the meeting will be spent gathering information that could have been learned online.

(2)    They didn’t qualify us.

This goes hand-in-hand with the issue above. Because they didn’t qualify us before scheduling a call, during the meeting, it became clear that we were most likely not a right-fit to engage with them. Don’t get caught in the fear-of-losing-business trap. Many agents operate on the belief that they need to take advantage of every business opportunity that presents itself, but doing so is not in your best interest or in the best interest of the buyer.

(3)    They made it about price.

Even as we tried to steer the conversation away from price and toward what value they might have to offer, they continued to focus on the cost of their services instead. Imagine the difference in power between conversations that begin with “Here’s the bottom line, we offer ___ and it is ___ price.” versus “From the research I’ve done, I understand that you are facing these challenges…”

(4)    The conversation was company-focused.

“This is what we do.”

“This is who we do it for.”

“This is how much of an investment it will be.”

Dialog is only effective when it’s consultative and client-focused. Are you trying to sell your services to prospects, or are you trying to positively influence them to get to a better place?

Overall, it is important to ensure that the process you use to nurture prospective clients aligns with the conversations you have once they raise their hand. Also, remember the significance of researching and qualifying your prospects, and ask yourself how you will pivot if you identify early on that they are not a right fit. Do so in a way that still allows you to keep the door open in the event that your value proposition changes and the opportunity to engage with them arises in the future.

Are Your Clients Fiercely Loyal?

In an interview on Inc.com, Sarah Robinson, author of Fierce Loyalty: Unlocking the DNA of Wildly Successful Communities talks about why developing a community of loyal clients requires a commitment that goes beyond great service. She says “You’ve got to be willing to listen for and acknowledge the specific needs your customers have, and most importantly, you’ve got to invest in a way to meet those needs.”

Think about what companies or brands you’re loyal to. Are you a die-hard Apple fan who’s first in line at the store for every new iPhone launch? Do you forgo a soda during lunch if the vending machine is stocked with Pepsi products instead of Coke?

Our loyalties to specific brands develop over time and through reinforcing, positive experiences. Customers who are loyal often act as brand ambassadors, and will provide you with honest feedback on what’s working and what you can improve on—both are valuable benefits in today’s crowded marketplace. So, how can you foster fierce loyalty in your clients?

Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. Can you, your producers and other team members clearly articulate who you are, and who you want to be it to?
  2. Does your value proposition or “brand” communicate more about you, or does it focus on outcomes for the client?
  3. Are your producers able to articulate and provide tangible value to prospects and clients?
  4. Are you investing time and resources in meeting the specific needs of your existing accounts rather than focusing solely on winning new accounts?

 

Does Your Value Proposition Communicate These 3 Things?

A unique and specific value proposition helps agencies attract the right-fit clients that will benefit from the expertise and resources they offer. In an article on Business Insider, investor and business advisor Joseph Bockerstette says that “while entrepreneurs freely throw around the term “value proposition,” they rarely offer a thoughtful explanation for the value their business is providing and, more importantly, an understanding of who their real customer is and what valuable benefit their customer perceives they are receiving.”

Good value propositions communicate an agency’s LCV. What is it? LCV stands for leadership, capabilities and value.

Leadership = Take the leadership role; lead prospects toward identifying what their greatest challenges are.

Capabilities = Leverage the capabilities and resources your agency possesses to address prospect and client challenges.

Value = Demonstrate your value so your prospects and clients recognize that they are at great risk without it.

Does your value prop articulate these things? If not, now is the perfect time to get back to the basics and refine it. Just remember that communicating your value proposition is a process; don’t simply recite a statement to a prospect, let them see your LCV.

Don’t End Up Someplace Else

When agency principals sit down to talk about their goals, they often outline only their financial objectives. But, to effectively “get in the door” with leverage and grow organically, an agency needs more. Creating goals and objectives may seem like drudgery, but agencies won’t succeed if they can’t articulate and clearly define what they have to offer. Goals and objectives should focus on the leadership, capabilities and value that are specific to an agency, and they should work conjunctively with the agency’s value proposition to communicate how an employer will benefit from a relationship with them. 

According to Morgan Norman, Business Insider contributor, goals “shouldn’t focus on only the end result — goals should detail the journey.” This means it’s important to consider the “what”, the “how” and the “why” as you formulate your goals and objectives.

For example, an agency that specializes in Workers’ Comp may have this as one of its objectives:

“To Reduce the Number, Cost and Duration of Employee Injuries.”

This is only one objective; in order to demonstrate various strengths, it’s important that agencies formulate several.

When you have completed the process, ask yourself these questions to test the efficiency of your goals and objectives:

(1) Do they support your value proposition and the Processes your agency has in place?
(2) Do they communicate how clients will benefit from a relationship with your agency?
(3) Do they map out your leadership, capabilities and value?

It’s important to remember that your goals and objectives should define who you are as well as who you want to be it to, not just the revenue you want to generate.

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”- Yogi Berra

6 Steps to Shorten Your Sales Cycle

What can you do to develop a strategy and action plan that will lead to closed sales within 3 to 5 meetings? Here are 6 critical components:

Step 1: Develop a concise and client focused value proposition. Why is this important? Your value proposition is designed to immediately capture the attention of the prospect—it communicates what value you have to offer, and it establishes a strong foundation for dialog. According to sales strategist Jill Konrath, “Weak value propositions are the root cause of most sales failures.”

Step 2: Establish credibility by being a thought leader in your specialized area of expertise. Provide articles, White Papers, and any other content with valuable information—doing so will help the buyer trust your expertise and positions you as an advisor and partner.

Step 3: Get in front of the decision maker. Be proactive and enter in at the highest level possible.

Step 4: Plan! Don’t wing it; you should always have goals in mind for every conversation. Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish during this conversation?”

Step 5: Address any objections early. It’s vital to be transparent with prospects and ask the uncomfortable questions to be sure that your goals and objectives are in line before moving forward. Buyers may cloak their objections and fears, but an article in the Tampa Bay Business Journal explains: “work on [objections] earlier during the sale and you’ll find your sales cycle shortened, your credibility enhanced and most importantly, more sales closures.”

Step 6: Establish clear next steps. It is vital to gain agreements and set goals with the buyer up front in order to establish mutual accountabilities.

Do you have any successful stories/strategies to help shorten your sales cycle? Let us know in the comments.

Avoiding the Value Assault Approach: Show Don’t Tell

In today’s commoditized sales environment, producers continually strive to differentiate from competitors and prove their value to prospects. However, a vast number of producers are making the mistake of telling prospects that they are different instead of actually demonstrating it.

When someone says, “I’m strong” or “I’m smart”, are you likely to accept their statements and believe they are telling the truth, or would you be more impressed if you listened to a compelling lecture or watched a heavy-weight champion beat out the rest of the competition?

Inc.’s Jeff Thull explains this problematic approach as a “value assault”. He says: “Most salespeople present their value proposition as, “This is the value we provide, this is what it has enabled customers like you to do and you will be able to do the same if…” It is definitely seen as “selling” and therefore, whatever value you suggest it is, the customer is likely to reduce its value because they will assume it is likely exaggerated to make the sale.”

If you simply tell a prospect you’re different, they may think you’re being disingenuous and dismiss you before you have a chance to be innovative, insightful and client-focused—the things that will really confirm your value and show that you are different from the agents who are self-focused and falling into the dreaded bid-and-quote trap. Instead of pointing to your differences let the prospect see them, and you’ll see better results.

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.Anton Chekhov

Developing Your Value Proposition

Developing a unique value proposition to differentiate your agency is essential. Jill Konrath explains: “With today’s tight economy and overburdened decision makers, you need to have a strong value proposition to break through the clutter and get their attention.” Most agencies have one, but too often it sounds just like any other and it fails to educate employers on why establishing a relationship with the agency is beneficial to their business. For example, some common value propositions include general claims like, “we have great service”, or “we represent great insurance companies.” According to business writer, Wendy Maynard, “Crafting a value proposition requires insight on what is unique about your company”.

So, how can you develop a unique value proposition that will demonstrate your distinctive value and capture the attention of prospective clients?

Ask these questions to determine whether or not your value proposition is effective:

Does it demonstrate how you will help employers change and grow, or the loss they will experience if they don’t engage in a business relationship with your agency? Does it communicate why the prospect should use your agency over another, and the specific value your agency will bring to the relationship? Is it focused on the client? Does it include demonstrated and tangible results?

Establishing a unique value proposition positions agencies to compete on value instead of price, and it will help agencies attract the right-fit clients that will benefit from the capabilities and resources that they offer.