‘Value’ is an over-used term in selling, because few salespeople understand what it means.
That’s because ‘value’ will look different in every industry, in every company, and with every prospect.
Does that mean we give up on trying to define it, and more importantly, provide it when selling?
Absolutely not, and according to some of the highest-performing sales leaders, we shouldn’t wait until we deliver our product or service to start providing that unique value either.
The place in a sales process where prospects are most wary and most skeptical is when it’s time for us to ‘pitch’ them – and they become wary because few pitches and product demos are prospect-focused, and even fewer provide value that’s unique to that prospect. If it was possible to build customized value into every one of your product demos or pitches, it would have a massive impact on your conversion.
To learn how to systemize customized value into our product demos and pitches, we sat down with Ryan Johns, vice president of corporate strategy with Central Metric and former instructor at the Air Force’s Air Education Training Command.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: To trigger a system that ensures we’re delivering value in and throughout our product demo or pitch, Ryan says to attack this as early as possible. We need to understand what’s broken in the customer’s business/industry and where they likely have a need to experience more or better results. This means understanding the people you’re talking to: executives will have concerns around strategy and profitability, whereas tactical people and your end users will be more concerned with efficiency and mitigating risk.
Ryan advises his clients to also develop a discovery system for when they’re meeting with clients, and ensures discovery comes long before the pitch or product demo. This means doing the pre-work of defining what it is you need to know about a specific prospect to customize your pitch or demo to their challenges and needs.
If you need some guiding questions around how to develop great discovery questions, ask the following questions before you attempt to systemize value into your pitch or demo:
Where is this person/company concerned with making things more efficient?
Where is this person/company concerned with accelerating outcomes?
Where is this person/company concerned with mitigating risks?
If you can translate the benefits of what you sell into answers to each of those questions, you’ll have a smooth discovery process and be able to build tremendous value into your pitch.
R – Repeatable: To make a value-focused pitch or demo repeatable, Ryan recommends tailoring your demo to the business case you’ve built for that prospect. That means aligning what you’re demonstrating to the prospect with what you heard during your needs analysis. If you’re explaining a benefit, ensure it pertains to the outcome the prospect told you they wanted to achieve.
Next, continue to ask for and check on agreement throughout the pitch/demo. That means confirming that your assumption of how your product/service has a clear link to your prospect’s outcomes. Not handling this step is asking for objections to come up later in the sales process.
Finally, you can provide value by educating your prospect on the improved state they’ll have if they buy from you AND the likely effects if they don’t change their current trajectory. Saving a prospect the mental energy of figuring this out for themselves is a tremendous value in the world of a busy leader.
I – Improvable: To improve the value you provide during your demo/pitch, Ryan says to ensure you don’t stop investigating the changes occurring in your prospect’s world. Today’s value proposition will not be as valid a few years from now.
To better optimize your workflow, ensure you’re taking the time during your demo to document the prospect’s workflow around how they currently handle the problem your product/service solves. That’s critical to providing value because if you don’t know what’s currently happening, any advice you give will be generic at best and harmful at worst.
Of course, each prospect’s workflow will be different and their workflows will change over time so ensure you’re looking both inwardly to your prospect’s workflow and outward to changing industry challenges on a regular basis.
M – Measurable: To measure the effectiveness of a value-driven pitch, Ryan says to measure the one thing most companies don’t: sales velocity. If we can’t identify where we’re experiencing lag, then we won’t know if our value-driven pitch is helping us sell more, and sell faster.
You can also provide more value to your prospects by helping them measure the effectiveness of their own workflow and how it aligns with what you’re seeing from other prospects to help them understand where they stack up against an industry benchmark. Linking your product/service to helping them accelerate their results against an industry standard will ensure your prospects see that you’re value-driven and that you’re as dedicated to their success as you are to your own.