Run your “Value-Thread” from Lead to Customer.
by Joanne Moretti, featuring Kim Kaminski from ServiceNow
During my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work in sales, serve on boards, and lead marketing organizations for startups up to Fortune 200 brands. And what I love more than anything else is creating magical experiences and outcomes for prospects and customers. Attracting them with differentiated messaging, engaging them with unforgettable experiences, empowering sales teams to lead with value-based conversations that result in new business, and ultimately ensuring customer success through, what we called at the time, customer relationship management. That thread of ‘customer value’ was always at the center of everything I was part of, and I tried to ensure my colleagues were aware of this focus at every touchpoint.
As marketers, we are on the front lines, creating awareness, attracting interest, as well as engaging and compelling prospects to take the next step to set up sales for success. We often create the customer’s first experience with the brand – and first impressions are lasting impressions. That’s why, I firmly believe, it is critical from the very start to convey the value you deliver. Today, when companies evaluate the success of vendor relationships, they no longer rely simply on cost or pricing to determine ROI – they look at the total added value, including intellectual capital they can’t get elsewhere.
That’s why it’s so critical that marketers no longer position their solutions based on features, functions and price; that will simply land salespeople in what I call “procurement jail”. What’s needed today, to avoid that race to the bottom, is to market and sell, and then manage customer relationships based on value. And it starts with us in marketing. If we project value-based messaging, we start the engagement on the right foot, in terms of speaking to customers about investments versus costs. There’s a subtle but big difference there.
With high-priced digital transformations taking shape into new business models with big hopes of higher margins, and the VC world pouring billions into SaaS-based offerings, traditional marketing, and selling models, that involve selling features and functions as well as discounting game can devour your margins in a heartbeat and ultimately fail to deliver the returns your stakeholders expect. As marketers, we need to frame the narrative as value — the benefit minus the cost.
Value is the net weight that your customer expects to get from buying your product/service. Unlike satisfaction, which is based on performance, value is based on importance – how valuable (same root word) to them is the result of the relationship? How important is what you bring to the table?
Quantify that. The DNA of value marketing is ROI. Unless you work for a non-profit or in the public sector, we all have the same job description: make money for the firm. Value selling communicates the hard numbers behind everyone’s reason for being, i.e., “Deals are 20% bigger” or “There’s 10% less customer attrition.”
It can be a different sell, but CMOs are already ahead of it. A study last year found that value selling has become part of the methodology for a whopping 94% of respondents. (In the COVID era, the other 6% may be just trying to keep the lights on.) It’s incumbent on marketing leaders to communicate this positioning and achieve greater top-of-funnel lead flow, better conversion rates, and ultimately, greater marketing ROI.
Kimberly Kaminski, VP of Global Integrated Campaigns at ServiceNow, leads a team driving value marketing across the buyer’s journey. “It’s a fundamental pillar of Integrated Marketing Campaigns (IMCs)” she says. “Too often, you see companies talking about themselves: ‘We do this, or we’re known for that.’ But if you keep the focus on the customer and their business imperatives, then the value surfaces. As customers engage with us — from ‘first touch’ awareness of our brand, through the sales cycle, and even to becoming advocates — we reinforce at every touchpoint the value that they will realize from a relationship with us. It’s always about them, not us.”
I never say never, but here are six rules of thumb:
- Sell the brains, not the brawn. Remember, companies value knowledge transfer from their suppliers.
- Don’t discount. If you’re under duress, go the Hubspot route: provide more services (add value).
- Lead with the benefit. DocuSign (a DecisionLink customer) doesn’t promote online document management; it sells faster times to close.
- Know who isn’t your customer. That may be 65% of potential clients in your universe… but the 35% you do partner with will be with you 100% of the way.
- Sell up to the top. It’s pretty straightforward: executive management will think in terms of the business outcome and strategic value of your offerings vs. operational staff, who are more concerned about features, functions, and price. I discuss this in my previous article Putting All your Eggs in One Basket?
- Engage in Value from the get-go. It’s everyone’s job along the entire customer journey to align on the value and benefits you are delivering to customers. Start the conversation with value from initial lead to customer.
- Know your audience. As you engage in value discussions, it’s critical you adopt your subject’s POV. What is their persona? What are their pain points? Your competition has your prospect’s attention, too — what impressions are they making?
People like to do business with companies they admire. And discussions centered around value instantly say, “This company gets me.” It takes you from selling/buying to seller/buyer, as you’re not vending product but connecting on a deeper level with their motivations and core business imperatives. And — here’s the best part — it’s totally doable. DecisionLink’s shelves are filled with case studies of customers that are succeeding with the value approach. We’d be glad to set up some meetings if you’d like to talk to us, or join our upcoming webinar with several marketing leaders, including me and Kimberly, called: “#ChoosetoChallenge with Value: How Leading Women Leverage Value to Win”. Or check out ValueCloud®️ for Marketersto get you rolling on attracting and engaging customers with business value metrics.
P.S. – for every person who signs up for our webinar, we’ll be donating $50 to support women in STEM career paths. Register now!