Top 12 World-Class Sales Practices | Effective Value Messaging

How salespeople communicate with their prospects and buyers is only one side of effective buyer interactions. What salespeople actually say to different buyer roles at different stages of their customer’s path is often way more important – and that’s all about effective value messaging.

“Oh, this is about the right value proposition!” I hear you. Yes and no. Effective value messaging is a lot more than that. In the age of the customer, there is no such thing as one value proposition working in a “one-size-fits-all” manner. (click to tweet)

A full 93% of the World-Class segment in our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study reported consistently and collectively communicating effective value messages that are relevant to their buyers’ needs, compared to 43% of all study participants. (click to tweet)

 

By the way, this is the exact same result we had for this practice in 2017. It means World-Class Organizations know what is relevant to their buyers’ needs at different stages of their customer’s path and communicate that way, given their specific business problem. That’s one dimension to keep in mind when it comes to designing effective value messaging.

The other dimension is about involved buyer roles. Complex selling situations usually involve more than six buyers who typically come from different functions, roles and hierarchies. What’s relevant, and valuable to them is often very different, and it also varies at different stages of their customer’s path.

The challenge to be mastered when it comes to effective value messaging is to consider the different stages of the customer’s path as well as all involved buyer roles and their perspectives. (click to tweet)

Let’s make an example. Let’s say you are offering processes and solutions to drive CX. And let’s say your typical prospect has a serious problem with their customer success function, and their customer experience (CX) KPIs are decreasing.

The CX leader has the most skin in the game and wants the best possible satisfaction results as fast as possible, whatever the cost. The finance leader is usually more interested in the overall ROI of any given solution and will focus on the business case. And the CSO is probably scared that the project will delay deals in the funnel and take attention and resources away from creating customers that actually could enjoy a better CX. As you can imagine, effective value messaging for each of these three buyer roles needs to be very different to address their roles and perspectives – but also tightly aligned to create a future vision of success for all buyers.

Effective value messaging is not a challenge you want to leave to chance; a structured framework-based approach is required to design these messages. And then it requires practice, practice and even more practice. Perfect practice, to be precise. And even more coaching. Regular, perfect coaching.

Let’s look at a few steps to help you set up effective value messaging:

Step #1: Understand the difference between marketing-focused and sales-focused value messages. (click to tweet)

In many organizations, marketing owns value messaging, which can result in a) the creation of more marketing messages than actual sales messages and b) messages that are focused only on the very early stages of the customer’s path. The latter is a consequence of marketing owning the messaging domain, as demand and lead-generation activities are marketing’s domain. However, it’s important to understand that value messages for demand and lead-generation purposes are macro messages created to address a broader audience. That’s what marketing’s focus usually is.

In contrast, salespeople are always in micro situations, focusing on a certain lead or opportunity and a certain group of buyers. The kind of value messages they need always has to be aligned to a particular buying situation. Understanding this concept is a prerequisite for the remaining steps.

Step #2: Create a business case to show that effective value messaging matters. (click to tweet)

In our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study, we found that those who provide their sellers with messages tailored to buyer roles have higher win rates (increase of 8.9%) than those who leave the tailoring up to sellers. Even more impactful was tailoring value messages to the different phases of the customer’s path, where improvements of up to 11.5% (compared to the average win rate) could be achieved. These two practices show the potential of value messaging done right. This data reflects the need to focus on a) the relevant buyer roles, their problems and perspectives and b) the different phases of the customer’s path.

Step #3: Design a value messaging framework along the entire customer’s path. (click to tweet)

In a nutshell, take your relevant customer’s paths, and make sure you know exactly where the transition from “we are looking for a solution” to “we are committed to buying something to solve our problem” is. In sales terms, that’s the transition from lead to opportunity. Also make sure you know exactly when the next key transition from buying decision to the implementation, adoption and usage phase is.

Next, make sure you know the different challenges buyers and sellers have in each of the main phases, and map the different value messaging types to the phases. For instance, you may have value hypotheses and general value messages in the early phases, when sellers have to precisely understand the buyers’ problem. That’s a phase where it’s all about the business perspective and solving the problem; it’s not about pitching products at all. In the buying phase, you have unique value messages tailored to the exact problem to solve (the tailored cure to the identified disease). And in the implementation phase, you need value confirmation messages.

Step #4: Use sales enablement as an orchestrator of effective value messaging, and focus on proper implementation. (click to tweet)

Using the customer’s path as the primary design point, sales enablement is the ideal role to orchestrate value message design and creation, involving marketing, product, sales and customer experience teams as well as third parties to ensure tailored messages are used by both marketing and sales.

In addition, sales enablement can take the lead role in training effective value messaging, which often is forgotten altogether. Equipping and empowering your sellers to actually be able to effectively apply these value messages requires a lot of training. Salespeople have to become confident in having conversations using the value messages in different situations. Role plays and simulations are crucial, and only ongoing effective coaching will ensure sellers become fluent in the new behavior.

If you haven’t already, take a look at our new book, Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. Chapter 8 contains lots of “how-to” information to address the value messaging challenges mentioned here.

 

Questions for you:

  • How do you ensure your sellers are adequately equipped to apply the right value messages in any sales situation?
  • How do you design the right value messages for various buyer roles and customer path phases?
  • Who owns value messaging in your organization? Whatever the situation is, would you prefer to change it? If so, why and how?

 
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