How can you CLOSE the Value Gap?

Today’s buyer is more empowered, skeptical and frugal than ever before – a condition called Frugalnomics. This new breed of buyer doesn’t care about when you were founded, how many customers you have, how quickly you are growing, your latest product release and new features. They want to know exactly how you can help them solve their particular challenges, and the bottom-line impact you can deliver. Today, it’s all about the Benjamins.

While at the same time, sales and marketing hasn’t evolved quickly enough to keep pace with a changed buyer.  Look at the typical PowerPoint deck or sit in on most sales calls and it’s all about the company, products, features and price and little about the prospect’s unique challenges and value potential. And you are not alone in your observations:
  • A meager 10% of buyers report that sales reps are value-focused, with most still using a less than effective product pitch approach (Forrester)
  • Solution provider executives report that the #1 issue for revenue growth shortfalls, is not a lack of adequate sales training, product mix or social selling skills, but the inability for sales to articulate value (SiriusDecisions).
This is the Value Gap - the current divide between buyer expectations versus a traditional sales and marketing approach, and it is having a serious impact on your revenue growth, with more stalled deals, longer sales cycles and more discounting.

If you want to address this challenge, the key is to evolve the customer conversation from product pitch to value. The good news, a simple conversation guide can be used to guide the evolution, and immediately help you improve your value articulation and sales effectiveness – helping you to CLOSE the Value Gap.

The CLOSE™ Conversation Guide is a storytelling technique, containing the right balance of Emotion – to make sure that your message is memorable and impactful – and Rational – to provide the financial justification so important in today’s committee based economic decisions.

The CLOSE Conversation Guide

The CLOSE Conversation Guide is a framework to help you formulate and arrange the five key elements of your value proposition so it can be effectively articulated, in the right order for proven best effect:
C – Challenge
L – Loss
O – Opportunity
S – Solution
E – Evidence.

The framework was designed to help you develop the right conversation elements and articulate the  value story elements in sequential order to communicate your value story.

Let’s take a look at each of the five elements of the CLOSE Conversation Guide and you will see how it can help you to develop and communicate your unique value story:

1) Challenge – What challenges can you help prospects tackle?
·      Help uncover challenges that the buyer may not realize they have or help the prospect understand the implications of known challenges that may not yet be a priority.

·      Illustrate the seriousness of the challenge with compelling commercial insights as to how prevalent the issue is, and what it costs an average company if the issue is ignored.

·      Communicate ways that the challenge typically manifests itself (at other customers you have worked with)– painting a picture of a day in the life under business as usual / status quo.

2) Loss – What are the challenges currently costing the prospect?
·      Quantify the specific “Cost of Do Nothing” for the prospect – exactly what maintaining business as usual / the status quo is costing the organization.

·      Tally the current “do nothing” costs as: 
o   Unnecessary expenses
o   Lost productivity / Inefficient or error prone processes
o   Potential risks and risk related losses
o   Lost revenue and growth opportunities

3) Opportunity – What is the value of addressing the challenge?
·      Communicate the potential business benefits of solving the issue outlined in the challenge.

·      Tally the impact to specific business metrics – value drivers.

·      Quantify the results of affecting the business metrics using the Value Map™:
o   Cost savings / avoidance
o   Improved productivity / business processes
o   Reduced risks
o   Improved revenue growth

4) Solution – What solution can deliver these business benefits?
·      Document the specific solutions, which can be used to address the particular prospect challenges and deliver the proposed business benefits.

·      Communicate the specific differentiating components of the solution and features, which can impact the value drivers and result in significant business benefits – proving how the value is uniquely delivered.

5) Evidence – How can I be assured that the proposed solution can deliver?
·      Validate how the proposed solutions have been successfully used by other prospects just like them, and the tangible business and personal value they achieved.

·      Quantify specific customer benefits, tallying specific KPI impacts, financial business benefits and ROI.

·      Filter the evidence by Industry, size and role to better resonate with prospects, so prospects know the benefits were achieved by prospects just like them, and via transference, can see themselves reaping similar business and personal rewards.

The CLOSE Conversation Guide can be used to improve all your customer conversation, applying the methodology to develop:
  • Provocative prospecting emails (using one line in the email to cover each element in CLOSE)
  • More impactful and personalized White papers and Infographics (using the elements of CLOSE to drive the elements and content)
  • High impact in-person / web meeting engagements (evolving from one size fits all PowerPoint product pitches, guiding the three-foot conversation to communicate the best value story for each prospect)

The Bottom-Line

Buyers have changed, making it vital to evolve your sales and marketing from a traditional product pitch to a value conversation. However, a substantial and costly Value Gap exists between buyer and seller - a conversation disconnect leading to more stalled deals, longer sales cycles and more discounting.

Developing and articulating your value story a certain way is key to this evolution and success, but how is this best value story formulated and delivered?

You can develop and deliver the most effective value story using the CLOSE Conversation Guide, a five step framework to connect with buyers on an Emotional AND Rational level – the key to fueling purchase decisions.

Challenge + Loss + Opportunity + Solution + Evidence = CLOSE the Value Gap: A more effective value conversation proven to ignite stalled deals, accelerate purchase decisions and reduce discounting.


Props to Dr. Thomas Sant who's NOSE methodology served as the foundation and inspiration for the evolution to a more provocative approach with CLOSE.

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