Dynamic Value Messaging: The Problem of Not Having It and How to Get Started Part 2 of 2

By Tamara Schenk

Tamara Schenk is a Research Director for CSO Insights, Sales Enablement Leader, Author & Award-Winning Keynote Speaker

Using value messaging as part of a commitment to implement Customer Value Management (CVM) can help sales leaders and sales professionals achieve quarter end or year-end goals for closing business.

This is part 2 of a 2-part blog series about the struggles sellers face with developing clear understanding of the buyers’ business problems and then effectively demonstrating customer value-based metrics to support the solution for putting everyone on the best path for ongoing growth and success.

Last week’s article “Dynamic Value Messaging: The Problem of Not Having It and How to Get Started Part 1 of 2”discussed the problem of not having dynamic value messaging for B2B companies. This week’s article now reveals the answer to the problem and how to get started with solving it for your company.

The answer is to implement a dynamic value messaging framework that leads to three things: to effective, targeted and tailored content, to sellers who are fluent in their value messaging approaches in various situations throughout the customer’s path, and to engaged buyers who are more likely to buy from you.

How do you get there? Below are five ideas to get started. But first, imagine value messages as the glue that holds your content assets consistent. That’s the foundation for any training and coaching effort.

#1: Clarify who owns value messaging, or understand the difference between marketing and sales messages.

Marketing often owns all value messaging efforts. As we live in the age of the customer, and their CX along the entire customer’s path is essential for their buying decisions, this “marketing only” approach no longer works. Additionally, there is a difference between marketing messages (broader audience) and sales messages (micro audience). A strategic sales enablement function that orchestrates all enablement efforts from content to training to coaching along the entire customer’s path is in a perfect position to own the value messaging approach. And marketing’s role is basically growing because of the broader scope along the entire customer’s path. Because the enablement teams must ensure that the value messaging is integrated in all content, relevant training and coaching services, it makes sense to have them orchestrating the process.

#2: Define the criteria that impact your value messaging types.

You should consider four types of value messages that are used at different phases of the customer’s path: value hypothesis, value messages, unique value messages and value confirmation messages. Now the question is what criteria impact these messages. Think about criteria such as the business challenges your products and services can solve. Then think about the relevant buyer roles and the different phases of the customer’s path. Think about the impact of different buying situations and their embedded risks (renewal vs. new problem to be solved) and your own position as a vendor (e.g., If you are a startup, you usually have to provide more value to cover the bigger risk).

Using the example of the case study, you would mainly look at the awareness phase of the customer’s path, the main problem your products and services can solve and the relevant buyer roles, such as a business leader, a finance role, a program manager, a technical buyer role and a procurement buyer role. One customer’s path phase, one problem to solve and five buyer roles require five tailored messages.

#3: Develop and implement a value messaging framework.

A framework is mandatory to gain scalability and efficiency. Imagine such a framework as a visual that helps you work backwards from the customer’s path and its main phases. As a mirror to that, imagine the different value messaging types we identified in #2. Now, for each phase, you can map all of your relevant content types. For instance, you have a customer-facing presentation per role, and you may have case studies, success stories and white papers, value calculation tools and diagnostic tools. You also might have enablement content such as playbooks, objection handling, competitive intelligence, configuration guidelines, etc. Such a framework also should show how these value messages can be connected and integrated in the relevant content, training and coaching services.

In sticking with the case study example, the framework would ensure that the relevant value messages exist for all relevant phases of the customer’s path (for this asset, it’s mainly the early buyer awareness phase) and the relevant buyer roles. Now enablement teams can take these messages and create several case study assets or ­– the smarter approach ­– create case study modules that can easily be assembled and tailored by sellers prior to a meeting.

#4: Creating targeted and tailored value messages requires leveraging lots of brains – and technology.

After the theoretical setup, it becomes very practical. How to get to these different buyer- and business problem-focused value messages? Ideally, have a neutral moderator leading the workshops. Choose one who is very familiar with such a dynamic value messaging approach. Have all functions involved, including marketing, sales (not only sales enablement, but also actual salespeople!), product management and customer success. Make sure the moderator leads the process from the buyers’ perspective, because nothing else matters. And of course, integrating the customers’ perspective first hand is the most beneficial way to do it.

Additionally, you should leverage the latest technology on customer value management that can help you provide the actual numbers that should go with your value messages, based on previous projects, actual cases or on models you have created for new services. Some technologies also are able to help create predefined content assets, as well as integrating actual customer experiences

#5: Enablement has to ensure a solid integration into enablement services to create consistency and enable performance.

Now the sales enablement team has a lot to do. It has to ensure that your case study assets and all other relevant content and training services are updated with the new value messaging. Ideally, they also create interactive playbooks that guide salespeople along the customer’s path with all of the messaging they need at their fingertips, including links to additional content to be used.

Effective sales enablement leaders don’t stop there. Instead, they ensure that their sellers are developed the right way, that they have enough practice and that the sales managers coach along those lines.

 

Are you ready to get started now? DecisionLink is ready to help! If you would like a free customer value assessment, please click HERE

Dynamic Value Messaging: The Problem of Not Having It and How to Get Started Part 1 of 2

by Tamara Schenk

Tamara Schenk is a Research Director for CSO Insights, Sales Enablement Leader, Author & Award-Winning Keynote Speaker

Using value messaging as part of a commitment to implement Customer Value Management (CVM) can help sales leaders and sales professionals achieve quarter end or year end goals for closing business.

This is part 1 of a 2-part blog series about the struggles sellers face with developing clear understanding of the buyers’ business problems and then effectively demonstrating customer value-based metrics to support the solution for putting everyone on the best path for ongoing growth and success. Stay tuned next week for part 2 of this series which will provide ideas for developing a better value messaging framework.

Selling is all about communication. It’s about communication between sellers and buyers, between people who can solve specific business problems and people who experience these problems in their organizations and have a desire to solve them.

So effective communication between sellers and buyers is not about products, as we found in our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study. Instead, it’s about diagnosing the actual problem and its business impact and communicating tailored and targeted value to the involved buyers and their particular context. That also can be summarized as communicating insights and providing perspectives that allow buyers to learn how to best approach their problem to achieve their desired goals. After all, effective seller/buyer interactions are about impactful business conversations; they’re not about a product pitch at all.

Engaging, enabling and empowering sellers to be fluent and effective in buyer interactions requires sales enablement teams to do a lot of homework.

It’s not only about how salespeople communicate with buyers, but it’s also about what salespeople communicate to different buyer roles at different stages of their customer’s path – and that’s all about dynamic value messaging.

“Isn’t this all about the right value proposition?” No, it is not. Effective value messaging is a lot more than that. In the age of the customer, there is no such thing as one value proposition working in a “one-size-fits-all” manner. If that’s your current value messaging approach, you should precisely check all of your leading indicators at the top of your pipeline in terms of value, volume and velocity. Additionally, you may want to analyze your pipeline for stalled deals; I’m sure you will find a lot of areas for improvement there. The closer you come to the end of the quarter, the more relevant these analyses become, as they clearly show you how much business you will leave on the table.

Organizations continue to struggle with effective value messaging.

On a high level, we learned in our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study that only 43% of all study participants consistently and collectively communicate effective value messages that are relevant to their buyers’ needs. By the way, this is the exact same result we had for this practice in 2017, which means the industry is not getting better with value messaging. Not even half of the population gets one of the key areas of successful selling – effective value messaging – right. The more competitive your market is, the more urgent it is to fix this problem.

Only one-third of organizations tailor their content to buyer roles and customer’s path phases and achieve up to 16.6% win rate improvements. That means two-thirds miss out on this potential

Looking at the matter in greater detail, we found in our Fifth Annual Sales Enablement Study that only 35.3% of organizations tailor their content assets to their relevant buyer roles, and only 31.5% align their content to the customer’s path. These two dimensions (buyer roles and customer’s path phases) are the most critical to implement, and here’s why: Organizations that tailor their content to buyer roles and customer’s path phases achieve up to 16.6% better win rates for forecast deals.

Additionally, two-thirds of organizations (64.7%) do not align their content services with their product and value messaging training services. That means two-thirds do implement inconsistency that leads to low performance.

If the value messages in your case studies are not tailored to buyer roles and the customer’s path, and your sellers are not enabled accordingly, you run into a performance problem.

As an example, let’s look at case studies, a content asset that’s often used in the early phases of the customer’s path to establish a shared vision of future success. The above data means that, for instance, only one-third of organizations have tailored and targeted messages in their case studies. That means two-thirds do not. Additionally, two-thirds did not develop their sellers to get to consistent value messaging fluency. And even if they invested in value messaging training, it wouldn’t work because their training services are not aligned to their content services.

The question, then, becomes how to solve this problem and get to these performance levels.

The answer is to implement a dynamic value messaging framework that leads to three things: to effective, targeted and tailored content, to sellers who are fluent in their value messaging approaches in various situations throughout the customer’s path, and to engaged buyers who are more likely to buy from you.

Next week’s blog will provide ideas for developing a better value messaging framework. In the meanwhile, if you would like a free customer value assessment, please click HERE

The ‘Hard’ versus ‘Soft’ Benefit Conversation – part two of two

by Bob Caravella

Bob Caravella is one of the industry’s leading experts on value engineering. He built and led the business value engineering and consulting practices at Mercury Interactive and HP Software – including value model engineering and enabling the worldwide sales teams to carry on meaningful value conversations with customers. He is a member of the DecisionLink Management Advisory Board

As sales leaders run the gauntlet for what is soon to be the end of the last quarter of the year for many companies, we’d like to introduce you to Customer Value Management (CVM), a beacon of hope for, among other things, building business cases to close business. In part one of this two-part blog series, we explored the definition of hard and soft benefits, and how to become your customer’s trusted advisor on value. In this final part, we explore how to reposition the nature of a benefit, deal with push back and the expectations gap, and how to ensure you’re asking the right questions.

Reposition the nature of the Benefit. Sometimes it makes sense to think of a benefit in a different way. For example, instead of defining the benefit in terms of ‘FTE (Full Time Equivalent) Labor Savings’, define and position it as ‘Cost per Event’. Thus, if a call center call currently costs $5 per call, and you can claim a 20% productivity improvement, then the Cost per Call is reduced to $4. On one million calls per year, that’s a $1M savings.

Deal with Push Back. Expect buyers to push back on the productivity ‘doing more with the same’ scenario. This conversation usually turns on three possibilities.

Natural attrition or terminations – For buyers looking to reduce costs, turn productivity improvement into actual FTE (headcount) reduction. FTE reduction can be handled by terminations and natural attrition. For example, If you are in an environment (such as a call centers) where attrition is very high, you can argue that there is no need for a 1:1 replacement during a churn event.   However, avoid quantifying productivity savings that are highly splintered and distributed, like two minutes saved per person over 1,000 people. It’s too easy to challenge this claim and impeaches the credibility of the overall business case. Quantify productivity savings only if it can be meaningfully aggregated for a given process (i.e., a substantial chunk of time is saved).

  • Reduce future hiring needs – For high growth companies, this can be treated as FTE cost avoidance.
  • Opportunity cost – More projects making their way through the queue, reallocating resources to growth initiatives rather than keeping the lights on. Keep in mind that this may be more challenging with organizations and in countries that don’t understand opportunity cost well.

Service delivery people need to bridge the ‘expectations gap’ between the buyer and seller. If not careful, a service delivery person can get caught up in the expectations debate between buyer and seller. As a service delivery person, be sure to:

  • Set measurable baseline expectations at proposal time, gain agreement on the baseline collection of metrics that will be used to measure success, and periodically measure value realized
  • Establish a trusted advisor relationship with your sales team to ensure the proposal or project plan is closely aligned to your client’s business goals. For example: scaling up without adding resources, or reducing downtime to generate more revenue.

 Ask the right questions

  • Two questions help frame the hard vs soft discussion with a buyer. First, what could they do with the time saved? And second, what is the next best alternative? Sometimes FTE savings are hard to discuss, but when framed in the lens of ‘what would it cost to outsource the work to a service provider,’ it makes quantifying the benefit more compelling.
  • What business drivers are you measured on? For example: number of new customers, call center calls, security breaches, IT staff size, etc.
  • What additional goals cannot get accomplished without increased productivity, such as handling backlog, reducing project idle times, or preparing key deliverables?
  • What would you do with the extra time if you can save X% on Y tasks? Response to this question may lead to positioning improvements in terms of increasing gross margin and revenue. These are clearly the most impactful areas, but highlighting efficiency gains that free up smart people to do solid analysis can lead to very positive and impactful outcomes.
  • What are your company-stated business goals with respect to productivity gains? How do you treat direct (hard) versus indirect (soft) benefits in your business case?
    • Are you only interested in saving real dollars by FTE reduction either from attrition or layoffs? Or are you willing to ascribe a financial value by repurposing labor to more strategic pursuits through process optimization?
    • Challenge your buyer; ask ‘what if you could generate more revenue with the same resource?’
  • Do you subscribe to ‘lean principles’ in making a business case? The Lean method is a philosophy centered around eliminating waste and providing the best customer experience. Using lean techniques creates more value for customers with fewer resources.
    • For example, consider a solution that delivers a 20% productivity improvement for a call center agent. Having 20% more time doesn’t necessarily mean downsizing; it can mean having the potential to achieve more. In today’s labor market, it is often hard to recruit qualified people, so perhaps that call center agent now has the time to train staff for higher skilled, higher value positions. Value added work comes in many forms that can drive incremental profit for the company.
    • What would your buyer do with 20% more time? How many more customers can be helped, and how much happier will they be? What is a customer interaction worth to your organization? What is a rough, plausible dollar figure? When a 20% productivity increase supports a company-stated business goal it is easier to sell up the management chain.

Bottom line: Value comes in many forms, and benefit discussions can take many directions. It is essential to build the right relationship with the customer to understand their needs and have the conversations that allow all parties to understand where benefits become value and how that value can be measured.

Would you like a free customer value assessment? If so, please click HERE