Salespeople are struggling to communicate their message of value. In my book, Value-Added Selling, this is called customer messaging. Customer messaging is the marketing side of sales. It is your planned communications campaign. Customer messaging is not only what you communicate, but also how you surround the customer with your message about the value your company brings.
Controlling these conversations for the customer interface is vital to your marketing and sales efforts. A breakdown in communications confuses and frustrates customers. Therefore, it’s critical that every customer-facing employee understands your message of value and communicates it consistently. Here are a few tips to help you launch a consistent customer messaging campaign.
Identify your value-added solution
Answer this question: “How do we bring value to our customers?” It’s useful to make a list of all the value-added items and services you offer your customer. This includes the quantitative (what you do for customers) and qualitative value (who you are). This menu of value-added solutions reads like a talking-points flyer for your employees. This is the value you want your salespeople talking about in the marketplace. It’s also a way to audit your performance once you secure the business.
When identifying your company’s value, get input from different disciplines in your company. No one has a monopoly on good ideas. Seek out other opinions. This is necessary to help uncover some of the hidden ways your team brings value.
When trying to identify your value-added solution, analyze the customer’s Critical Buying Path® (CBP). This is the sequence of steps customers go through from the moment a need exists up to and including buying and using the product you are proposing they buy. In short, it’s the end-to-end customer experience. Once you analyze your customer’s CBP, identify how you bring value at each step along the way. This enables employees to present a more comprehensive value-added solution.
Identify your uniqueness
Answer this question: “What is different about our customer experience than the rest of the market?” This is called the unique selling proposition (USP). Sometimes the USP is referred to as the “big idea.” It is the outstanding difference that makes you stand out in your market. It is the one thing you can lay claim to that no one else in the market or industry can say. This difference must be unique, compelling, and defendable by you. Keep this difference short and specific.
The following feeder statements can help you identify your USP:
- We are the only ones that…
- We were the first to…
- Customers tell us we’re unique because…
Whatever follows these feeder statements is your USP. Once you identify your USP, over communicate the message. Tell everyone and tell them often. Your goal is to occupy the buyer’s mind with your uniqueness.
Identify your value proposition
Answer this question: “What does the customer gain from experiencing our value-added solution?” The value proposition is the down-line outcome of your customer experience. It’s the long-range impact of your value-added solution on the customer. It is a clear statement of the tangible results customers experience as a consequence of partnering with you.
Seventy-five percent of sales and marketing executives believe that getting this value proposition right and communicating it clearly to customers is the number one goal for customer messaging. Do you know the full impact of your value-added solution on the customer?
The first step in constructing your value proposition is to determine the different segments you serve and identify the unique needs of each segment. Then you analyze how your solution helps satisfy those unique needs. The second step is determining the outcome of satisfying those needs. Here are some sample value proposition statements:
- We help customers “play bigger” than they are.
- We help customers better serve and satisfy their customers.
- We help customers save more time and money on their projects.
Each statement focuses on the outcome. In short, the value proposition is what the customer gains. Your value-added solution is how the customer gains it.
Before customers buy, they need to know what they will gain, how you make that happen, and what makes you unique. In any messaging campaign, you must effectively communicate the value-added solution you offer customers; then, you must communicate the impact that value-added solution has on the customer. Customers also need to know what makes you stand out in the market. Every touch point with the customer is an opportunity to communicate your value and differentiate your solution. Are you taking full advantage of this opportunity?
Paul Reilly is president of Tom Reilly Training and coauthor of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill 2018). For additional information on training programs, call or email Paul at 636.778.0175 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit reillysalestraining.com and sign up for his free newsletter.