Selling the Value of Your Solution
In our current global selling environment selling the value of your solution has become a cornerstone for the justification prospects need to invest in your organization. The demand for capital is immense and accordingly, the competitive landscape has expanded to non-traditional alternatives. Your prospects need you to articulate the value of your solution in order to justify prioritizing their capital to you. Given these market conditions, let’s explore the 3 rules for presenting your value.
Rule #1 - Realistic – Any statement of return on investment or value must be considered “realistic” in the minds of your prospect. It’s important to note that the definition of “realistic” varies widely from individual to individual. For example, assume for the moment that you sell a Human Capital Management software solution. An area of keen interest for your prospect is the number of employee reviews that are completed prior to their self-imposed deadline. You present figures from a case study that show that 98% of personnel reviews were completed on time. After you present this impressive statistic, the prospect dismisses the evidence and asks you to move forward in your presentation. Why? Because for the past 5 years they have been attempting to achieve 5% gains each year from 40% to 65%. Your number simply doesn’t seem “realistic”. I’m not suggesting you don’t present this amazing statistic. What I’m suggesting is that before you present this statistic you need to prepare the prospect so they don’t dismiss your statements. This can be done a number of ways:
- *Understand their goals through discovery
- *Acknowledge their goals and history prior to presenting your value
- *Recognize that the prospect may consider your value difficult (or impossible) to achieve and address their opinions upfront versus defending it after it is presented
- *After presenting your value, interact with them to discount the figures to a point that they believe it is aggressive but not realistic
Rule #2 – Relevant – In our example above we presented that 98% of personnel reviews were completed on time. Our prospect is a €8 Billion, 15,000 employee global bank. The statistic we presented came from a $120 Million, 200 employee manufacturer. The two are so dissimilar that the prospect dismisses the figure because the example simply isn’t relevant. This problem is a real selling challenge. It isn’t easy (and sometimes impossible) to find relevant examples. To solve this, take a multi-dimensional approach:
- *Use a banking example if available
- *Use a business that operates similar to a bank as an example
- *Use a business similar in size/employees
- *Support your figures with industry expert evidence
- *Support your figures with additional examples from a multitude of industries
Rule #3 – Defensible – The good news about using case studies is they are very defensible. The client you presented was studied and they will back up your value. The challenge with Return On Investment studies is they are very difficult to defend. Taking a prospect’s cynical view I might say something like “Well of course your study shows we will get a return on our investment in 16 months…it’s your ROI study!” All statements of value need to be defensible or they will be invalidated. Simple changes in how the value is presented will lead to a prospect viewing your statements as defensible.
Here are a few examples:
If you use a quote from a customer or industry expert, cite the source first then read the quote second. (See my article on tips for reading quotes.) Doing so establishes the credibility of the source prior to the statement of value.
- Gain agreement from the prospect’s selection team before the presentation and cite the fact that working with their team, the following value was agreed upon.
- Present your value after you have presented the solution and built momentum and evidence as to why your value is defensible.
The nature of our selling environment and competitive landscape dictates that we sell value. You should assume that all of your competitors are presented value. However, we only win when we articulate our value more effectively than the competition.