How to Design Value Messages Along the Customer’s Path

We move on with our series on value messaging. First, we discussed what value messaging’s role is in a strategic sales enablement approach and why your enablement services have to be aligned on a messaging level. Last week, we discussed organizations’ current approach to value messaging and five steps to improve your value messaging approach. Today, we are going to discuss the criteria organizations currently use to create value messages.

Criteria for successful value messaging are multifaceted – only 51.4% of organizations follow such an integrated value messaging approach.

All others, 48.6% of organizations, focus their value messaging approach on only one of these criteria, such as business problems, customer journey phases and buyer roles.

Let’s discuss why the customer’s path is the main design point for your value messaging efforts.

Buyers have different goals in each phase of the customer’s path and salespeople have to navigate their different buyer dynamics. Think about change dynamics, buying dynamic and value dynamics. Other criteria, such as buyer roles, vary in different phases. Also, business challenges are discussed from different perspectives in the different customer’s path phases.

Then, of course, we look at who is interacting along the customer’s path. That brings us to the involved buyer roles: Our 2017 data shows an average of 5.8 involved decision-makers, and the trend is increasing. More than ever before, salespeople are challenged to communicate differently with various buyer roles from different functions and different hierarchical levels. Also, some buyer roles join the buying team later, towards the actual buying phase (such as procurement roles), while others are mainly involved early on (such as senior executives sponsors). Conversations with multiple buyers from various functions, taking place at different points along the customer’s path, require a different language and different value messages than conversations that are strictly about product functionality and specifications.

Now, let’s talk about why all these buyer are involved in buying decisions: It’s because they have to master their business challenges. And that leads us to the key principle for professional selling in the age of the customer: Buyers don’t buy products. They buy the value they get out of your products and solutions to solve their business issues and achieve their desired results. And that’s still the key challenge we see in so many value messaging approaches. The value messages that are required –especially in the early phases of the customer’s path – have to relate to their business issues and how to solve them, including the business results that can be achieved. And that’s a fundamentally different approach compared to previous, product-focused, one-size-fits-all value propositions.

Connected to the business challenges are the customer’s desired business outcomes. Business outcomes are measurable and tangible. The metrics that matter for business buyer roles are often financial in nature and have to fit into their overall business case. Of course, product-driven metrics are still relevant. But they don’t provide the difference that makes or breaks a buying decision. Instead, functionality-related metrics are assumed to be fulfilled in the first place.

Finally, don’t forget the buyers’ risks and wins. Buying decisions are usually more risky for the buyer than they could ever be for salespeople. Buyers’ perceived risks can become decision criteria on two levels: organizational and individual. Sales professionals have to uncover these as early as possible to be able to provide valuable perspectives based on targeted value messages.

And your products, solutions, and services? Of course, they are important to be positioned, but not as its own design criteria for value messaging. Instead, it’s the other way around.

You should address the value of your products, solutions and services always through the lens of the customer’s path phases, the involved buyer roles and their business challenges and desired outcomes. That’s how effective value messaging in the age of the customer should be set up.

Questions for you:

  • What are the criteria you use in your organization to create value messages?
  • Do you follow an integrated approach or do you focus on one criterion only?
  • Who owns value messaging in your organization, and who ensures that it covers the entire customer’s path?

 

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