Just Because Your Message Is Poor Doesn’t Mean You Should be Selling Harder
What’s Your Value Proposition?
When I look at a reseller’s messaging, I ask myself, “So What?”
Is there a compelling reason to buy here? Will the CPA, doctor, lawyer, or business executive care? Or is this message designed for techies without a budget?
Great Marketing starts where someone is right now…
Then takes them to where you need them to go!
There are Five Components of an Effective Value Proposition…
But before I get to how to build one, let me share with you one memorable experience where the sales rep was clueless and wasted over 3 hours of his day trying to convince my family to buy…
The Product Guy and His Value Proposition Mismatch
Our vacuum died…It was a bad day at the Stelzl house. 6 Kids (Now 7), all very young, full of energy, and making lots of messes…But it gets worse.
You see, I grew up in an “Electrolux” family…if you’re over 45 you might remember the original Electrolux brand (the current Electrolux is not the same). It was like a cult following…
As a boy, our family bought one vacuum and we used it forever. Electrolux was the Cadillac of vacuum cleaners. These high-end cleaning machines were only sold in-home. Stores didn’t carry them. They were expensive. However, they lasted forever. In my mind there were no other options.
Jump ahead to life as a married man. Electrolux is not the same company. Having been acquired and cheapened, it’s nothing special…
I tried buying one of the newer models (a whole story in itself), but it just didn’t last like the original I knew as a boy.
With our dead vacuum in hand we needed something fast!
Skipping through all the shopping disappointments, one salesperson stands out, and that’s what I want to focus on here. He’s the Rainbow guy. A reseller of sorts selling high-end hardware.
Rainbow vacuum technology is compelling. It’s the “Water Vacuum”. You can buy one for about $2000. A refurb might be $650.
Perhaps you’ve seen Rainbow’s demo in your home at some point. My wife came across this amazing water machine while researching healthier vacuuming options. If you’ve studied this out you know that there are some nasty microbes nesting in your rugs, on your beds, and even crawling on your skin. Under a microscope everything looks like a Creature Double Feature. Yuk!
So the guy shows up…He’s the Product Guy w/ a Value Proposition
Immediately he launches into the technology. His system doesn’t use traditional filters It’s water based filtering technology. Even the smallest microscopic stuff is sucked up, defenseless against this thing.
And then he did the most amazing thing…
He took my vacuum, spread out some dirt on my rug, DISCONNECTED the vacuum hose from the machine, and vacuumed up the dirt! Did you catch that? The vacuum attachment wasn’t even connected!!!!! But the dirt still disappeared.
His message was obvious. Our the traditional vacuum was just pushing the dirt into the rug to make it look clean. Hmmm. (Pretty cool sales strategy…you have to admit).
But there was just one problem. He didn’t understand us. Here we were, sitting in the living room of a two story house, with 6 kids (we have 7 now), all quite young at the time, and going crazy.
All we could do was try to keep up with everything including homeschooling all of the kids. With all the busyness, our kids did a lot of the cleaning, but we had toys, schools supplies, and stray sock everywhere (Legos and all kinds of tiny army men all over the floor).
So, when I asked him to let me pick this thing up, I found out it weighed a TO! “How are my kids going to transport this thing up and down the stairs? It’s a daily occurrence that the vacuum is upstairs and there’s a spill in the kitchen.”
“Well,” he replied. “You might have to get it for them…”.
Then, what about emptying the water after vacuuming (something that must be done after each use)? “You just dump it in the woods,” was his answer.
Outside? Who’s going to do that? And what about when it’s snowing or freezing outside?
“Well, you might have to do that too.” Whoa…
And then the final blow, “What about all the Legos and army men that are going to get sucked up into that monstor? What do we do about that?”
“Well, you could run the water through a stainer or something.”
Are you kidding? With all kinds of fuzz, hair balls, and food particles, you expect me to be out in a rain or ice storm, straining toys out of dirty water? (Are you picturing this?)
You see the problem here. His technology is great. But for a family with a bunch of little ones, homeschooling, etc., operational efficiency is what’s important. Not than getting dust mites out of carpeting (Even if the rep things otherwise.)
What was my wife thinking? Did this sales guy have a clue?
Where were we (mentally) at the moment he came through our door? We were busy, stressed out, needing relief. The Rainbow guy probably should have greeted us, observed the chaos, and admitted, “This is not a great solution for a family like ours,” and moved on.
On the other hand, the wiser rep would have approached our home, not with cleaning technology, but with ease of use.
Operational efficiency is one of the 4 THINGS BUYERS BUY (from my book, From Vendor to Adviser). And then (knowing there are hundreds of lightweight vacuums) he might have focused on longevity, knowing we can’t afford for this thing to be out of commission for even one day with all of these kids. And from there, moving to a risk mitigation sale…
You want your kids to be healthy, right? Vacuuming keeps the allergens down so your kids will be healthier! And families that have easy-to-use vacuums, vacuum…in fact, the kids will do it all, if you let them.
Here’s a Simple Strategy for Getting Your Value Proposition Together. It has 5 Components.
Trends are like sound bites. They bring credibility. But remember, great marketing starts where someone is right now. So using the marketing Avatar I discussed a week ago, you are choosing trends and sound bites that matter to that person.
But, facts alone are NOT that interesting.
In fact, if you call on the CIO, he probably knows what’s going on in the news before you do. So, coming up with a news-bite that matter won’t be easy.
I talk more about Sound Bites and how to use them in my book, The House & the Cloud [Page 69]. READ it, DO what I’ve recommend, and people WILL see you as the expert! (That coveted TRUSTED ADVISOR status).
Instead of just quoting day-old news, take your sound bite and add some INSIGHT to it. Matthew Dixon in his book, The Challenger Customer, does a great job of explaining why insights are so powerful and how to use them in the sales process.
The bottom line , INSIGHT is what grabs a prospect’s attention. For instance, the vacuum guy might have looked at our crazy home and quoted a statistic on how infrequently the average home is vacuumed and why that creates an overabundance of health issues. (Sound Bite).
His [insight] would then be, “That’s because most vacuums are so hard to use. Only the parents can vacuum and they don’t have time. But mine is so easy, even a child can operate it. In fact, most kids think vacuuming is fun. My kids wanted for toy vacuum for Christmas. So I give him a real one and now he cleans for us.” What mom would ignore an insight like that?
2. What I See (Further Insight)
What have you observed? Your client lives in a vacuum of sorts. They don’t get out much. So they don’t get to see what you see.
Failed IT projects, IT Budget overruns, poor IT decisions, major security disasters and system downtime,… the list goes on. If you’ve been in this industry any length of time (and have been taking notes) you have wisdom you are probably take for granted.
Think of yourself as the hub or portal of IT wisdom and insight.
(And if you are not that person, become him. You have everything you need to be the go-to source for IT strategy and chances are you competition isn’t doing anything with this knowledge.)
Note: CRN, MSP White Papers, and Continuum & Kaseya data sheets
are not a substitute for personal development.
So what are you seeing? A digital transformation is taking place without regard for real security. Malware is traveling surreptitiously through a global maze of routers and switches, undetected. And is hitting companies where they can’t see it until it’s too late.
3. My Concern (Great Place to Shed a Tear)
Are you concerned for your clients? This is where the Successful sales people stand out. They care…do you?
When your client senses that you actually care about their business, and that you are in fact passionate about helping them survive, it shows. The rep who is just after another product sale ($$$$) to make quota falls short here.
So, take a moment and consider why you are in this industry. If you believe you can help people, then start focusing on their problems and helping them find lasting solutions.
If the Rainbow guy really cared about us, he would not have told me to take point on transporting his dinosaur, and cleaning out filthy water in the middle of the night, in the snow, with a strainer (YUK!) Instead, he would have admitted that his product wasn’t a good fit for our situation.
4. What We Are Doing About It (Your Lab)
What you are doing is coming up with solutions. At least I hope you are.
Anyone can sell JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disk). But what about securing data and keeping people from cybertheft?
Is your company looking at the best ways to secure a small business? Or ways of providing security intelligence to a mid-market or enterprise account?
As a sales rep, it’s your responsibility to study. When I drive or fly I am constantly listening to audiobooks, podcasts, and recorded coaching sessions. That’s right. I do everything I tell my clients to do.
I offer monthly programs to keep my clients on top through webinars, podcasts, blogs, and training programs. But I also subscribe to several programs (Which I personally fund) for my own business to keep me moving in the right direction.
College never ended for me. I’m taking new classes every day! I hope you are.
5. Specific to You
Now it’s time to apply this to the client.
Here’s what I say. “As I see your company (Fill in something like, moving into the cloud or going through a digital transformation), I believe you will be at risk if you don’t take steps to ensure (Fill in something here such as assessing your risk levels with the impact vs. likelihood graph, another concept from The House & Cloud).”
At this point you should have the client’s interest and a proposed next step. In most cases you’ll move to an assessment or discovery process to validate your concern in their situation. (Impact vs. Likelihood).
Write It, Memorize It, Use It…
Your value proposition should be powerful and well rehearsed.
Only the “Specific to you” needs to be modified. The trends/insights are updated occasionally, and the “What we’re doing” changes slowly over time as your company’s solutions evolve. Minor changes should be made as you observe your target market’s response.
Effective selling demands a strong value proposition, not more brute-force selling. If you’re staring to sound like a used car sales person, it might be you just don’t have a great message and you are trying to make up for it with manipulating sales tactics. Join us in the SVLC Insider’s Circle Facebook Group and let’s collaborate on your message for 2017!
© 2017, David Stelzl