Focus on World-Class, Part 8: Effective Value Messaging

In this 12-part series, each post examines one of the 12 best practices identified in the 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report. Today’s best practice: “Our salespeople consistently and effectively communicate appropriate value messages that are aligned to our customers’ and prospects’ needs.

Effective value messaging is one of the biggest challenges

The reasons for this challenge are multifaceted: Sales professionals have to sell to buyer roles they didn’t talk to in the past. Think about the shift of decisions from IT to business, or the shift of decisions from individuals to committees. Furthermore, all these buyer roles have different expectations. What’s relevant and valuable is information that helps them at the current phase of their customer’s journey (e.g., evaluating a problem or looking for a solution), connected to their roles and challenges.

There are no “one size fits all” value propositions anymore – value messaging has become dynamic

Customers decide what value means to them, how they calculate value and which metrics are important to them. Consequently, we cannot expect to be successful with “one size fits all” value propositions. Instead, in our customer-centric world, organizations need dynamic value messaging frameworks. And that means considering the relevant messaging criteria and different focal points and goals in different buying scenarios along the entire customer’s journey.

Now, let’s focus on the key aspects of effective value messaging along the customer’s journey that make today’s practice a Top 12 practice: “Our salespeople consistently and effectively communicate appropriate value messages that are aligned to our customers’ and prospects’ needs.”

Value hypotheses in the awareness phase to create a shared vision of future success

Value hypotheses are used to address the customer’s current challenges and encourage the desire to make a change to a better future state. That means they need to learn something new that helps them to understand the real impact of their current problem. Also, they should learn how they could solve the issue and what results they could achieve.

Case studies, success stories, referrals and research are perfect ingredients to deliver these messages, as they show how other customers approached similar situations successfully, ideally with measurable results. Value hypotheses are instrumental to inspiring customers to think differently about their challenges and change their existing solution concepts. Then, the messaging can become more specific, detailing the future vision of success, presenting a phased approach to getting there and focusing on the specific business metrics these customers are looking for. Value hypotheses are all about connecting to the customers’ business challenges, their expected results and wins and their specific context. No product pitching here!

Specific value propositions in the buying phase to become the best buying option

Specific value propositions focus on the values and benefits of the offered solution, mapped to the customer’s desired results and wins, based on their unique context. At this stage, sales professionals have to prove that the offered solution, based on the shared vision of future success, is the buying option that best helps the entire buying team achieve their desired results and wins. At this stage, specific value propositions have to be tailored to the expectations of the different involved buyer roles. The need to tailor and tune value messages is why a value messaging framework is so important to have. No enablement team can cover all possible buying situations and buying team constellations.
Specific value propositions include your products and services, but always, always, always in the context of the customer’s business challenges and their desired results.

Value confirmations in the implementation and adoption phase build a foundation for future business

Often overlooked, but key to sustainable success, are value confirmations in the implementation and adoption phase. These messages are the foundation for developing long-lasting customer relationships and growth within existing accounts. Projects are often delegated to new stakeholders during implementation and adoption. That’s why it is essential for sales professionals to build and develop relationships with these new individuals. In addition, they should not forget to communicate the value that has been created to the initial sponsors of the project.

World-Class value messaging requires an orchestrated effort of four components:

  • First, sales force enablement teams have to sit down and define a dynamic value messaging framework.
  • Second, they should orchestrate the collaboration between marketing, product management, and additional SMEs to ensure that the creation of value messages is up-to-date and in line with the dynamic framework.
  • Third, enablement teams have to ensure initial training services for salespeople to learn and practice the newly implemented value messages.
  • Fourth, they should collaborate with the frontline sales managers to ensure that they coach their sales teams accordingly.

Questions:

  • How do your equip your sales force with adequate value messages for different situations?
  • How do you train value messaging in your organization?
  • How is your coaching approach reinforcing the new value messaging approach?

 

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