Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Video: ValueStory – a Better Customer Conversation Tool

The #1 inhibitor to sales success remains the Value Gap: the inability for sales reps to effectively communicate your value messages to today's more frugal buyer, this according to research from Sirius Decisions. As a result, you are likely facing more stalled deals, longer sales cycles and higher discounting.

In this exciting new video, you will learn how to best close this Value Gap, replacing your “death by PowerPoint” presentations with ValueStory, a new visual storytelling & financial justification (ROI / TCO) tool designed specifically to drive better value conversations and quantification.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Concrete or Fluff?

By Mark Schlueter

Do you fail to move your prospects from “Do Nothing” to “Yes” because your value messages are "fluff”?

Fluff is telling your Buyer you can help them increase revenue, decrease costs or reduce risk, all using generalities.

Fluff is not personal. It’s not keenly relevant to your Buyer. Fluff is not specific enough to move your unique prospect to recognize that there is an untenable “cost of do nothing” for them resulting in pain.  Fluff fails to communicate the tangible and quantifiable value your solution can uniquely deliver against your Buyer’s specific challenges.

A general value statement is fluff, and fluff is not personal or tangible enough to ignite today’s more empowered, skeptical and frugal prospect into action. Pause to examine your own value sales and marketing messages.  For many companies, even those that have had outside messaging experts involved in the development, the value messages tend to be fluff.

Concrete is stronger than fluff. Concrete helps your prospect analyze and compare to best practice benchmarks, helping them to diagnose their issues and guide challenge prioritization.  Using Buyer specific input, concrete helps tally their specific “cost of do nothing”. Concrete is visually connecting the dots that link your solution to the Buyer’s unique challenges. Concrete is quantifying, using Buyer input, the revenue increases, productivity / process improvements, cost decreases and reduced risk benefits unique to your solution.

Value messages and conversations can’t be generic fluff. Value messages must be personalized to each prospect’s company, decision making stakeholder and unique challenges: specific and quantified. Your value messaging must be concrete in order to be effective.

It’s not complicated.  Concrete value messaging and quantification cement your advantage. Concrete is indeed stronger than Fluff.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Once Upon a Time: Storytelling Stimulates the Brain into Action

By Dan Sixsmith

Storytelling is a term that has emerged in marketing and sales as a means of leading the buyer down a path toward the realization that your solution is something he/she needs.

In this age of Frugalnomics, as the ability for you to communicate your value is more important than ever, good value storytelling can mean the difference between sales success, and “do nothing” failure.

In order to be effective, value storytelling needs to occur in a certain way. Tell your value story the wrong way, and your prospect might be bored, your message easily forgotten, and “do nothing” the result.  Crafted the right way, you can create a powerful effect on your prospect, and literally ignite the buying decision.

A new article in PsyBlog, The Psychology of Storytelling and Empathy, Animated outlines exactly what you need to not only connect with your audience, but also get your prospect to take action.

Neuroscience indicates that effective storytelling actually causes a change in the audience’s brain, involving an automatic secretion of two chemicals: Cortisol, which is the usual response to distress, but signals and maintains engagement and focus, helping the audience pay more attention; and Oxytocin, which deepens the level of engagement and creates a feeling of empathy.

What does this mean for your B2B marketing and sales strategy? In a world of shorter and shorter attention spans and skepticism, the ability for you to generate hyper buyer engagement, attention, recall and empathy could mean all the difference between the success and failure of your next campaign or sales rep conversation.

So how can you develop and communicate an epic value story? It doesn’t mean you need to tell a scary or sad story. It does means you need to tell a story about your value that resonates in a personal and emotional way with your audience—a value story that excites the senses and unfolds in a specific and scientific manner. A value story that says you understands the buyer’s challenges and can solve their business issues, but told with specific content and sequence.

According to the neuroscience research, an effective story must contain a specific structure known as a “dramatic arc” (as espoused by 19th Century novelist Gustav Freytag) and include the following key elements:
  • Exposition
  • Rising Action
  • Climax
  • Falling Action
  • Denouement

So how does this help you tell a better value story? You too must leverage these key successive elements in the “dramatic arc”:

> The Exposition of a story sets the stage and provides important background information. In your business story, you need to get the buyer’s attention, outlining the current business challenges your prospect faces on a daily basis (a day in the life).

> The Rising Action of a story builds suspense and captures the reader’s interest. This is where you detail the perils of the status quo, and if no action is taken, its continued detrimental effect on the prospect and the “cost of doing nothing”.

> In the Climax of a story we experience the turning point and we see a glimmer of hope for the future. In the most impactful value story, you begin to discuss what is possible, the ‘what if’, and begin painting a picture as to the solution that will change our prospect’s fortunes for the better.

> In the Falling Action of a story, we still experience some unresolved and outstanding tensions that are waiting for closure. There is a great deal of suspense and the conclusion is in doubt. In the successful value story the tension of your prospects business challenges begin to ease as you discuss how the solution will save the day, but also indicate risks if a particular path is not chosen correctly. Here is where you outline how the solution can overcome the issues, and the benefits your solution can specifically provide.

> The Denouement is the powerful ending of the story where the characters in our story resolve their issues. In the effective business story, this is where you drive it all home and deliver valuable and relevant proof points to remove the risk, proving successful value realization from your solutions with case studies and testimonials.
So, how well are you telling your value story today? 
Is it crafted and delivered in a way that stimulates the buyer’s brain? 
Does it follow the storytelling arc for best effect?

By following the “storytelling arc”, communicating the challenges, cost of do nothing, what if, value and proof points in a compelling and systematic fashion, you can stimulate the buyer’s brain, causing chemical changes that allow you to engage your buyer emotionally, in  more memorable fashion, and ignite the buying decision.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Research Proves the Early Bird Catch the Worm?

Your Sales Reps are being invited later and later into the decision making process, and at the same time, the stakes for engaging earlier have never been higher.

The empowered buyer of today is leveraging the Internet, social media and peer groups to investigate opportunities, investigate potential solutions and research your and your competitors products. More and more of the decision making process is conducted without the assistance of your Sales Reps.

SiriusDecisions reports that up to 67% of buyers already have a “clear picture” of the solution they want before Sales Reps are engaged. And this “do it themselves painting” may not match your solution at all!

With a late engagement and solution bias already in your prospects mind, your Sales reps often have few options other than resorting to giveaways or discounts in order to win the deal.

At the same time as Sales reps are being invited later, Forrester reports that engaging earlier provides more advantage than ever. The solution provider who engages earlier, helping the buyer “turn a vision into a clear path to value”, wins a whopping 74% of the deals. While those engaging late, during the bake-off phase where you and several vendors are responding to specific requests and RFPs and you win a mere 26% of the deals.   

So how do you go about gaining this huge advantage: engaging earlier and helping to “establish the clear path from vision to value”? We believe there are three key “conversations” your Sales reps can have with your prospects to engage earlier and shape the decision to go your way:

   >  Illuminate the Rain - Proactively help the buyer identify and diagnose issues, leveraging customized benchmark insights and diagnostic assessments to uncover and identify issues.

   >  Quantify the Pain – Calculating the cost of “Do Nothing”, tallying the prospect’s specific inefficient spending, lost productivity, high risks and lost revenue opportunities from maintaining the status quo.

   >  Justify the Gain – Consultatively “painting a picture” of the improvements, clearly communicating and quantifying the benefits between “before” vs. “after”.

The challenges as well as the rewards of engaging earlier and establishing a clear path to value have increased over the past three years.

What are you doing to reshape the trends; helping your Sales reps engage earlier and helping “establish the path from vision to value”?