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Giving away Freebies? Or selling Value?

A lot of companies today continue to talk to my colleagues and I about Value Based Selling. They talk about raising their game in the selling stakes and giving their sales teams the opportunity to go into discussions fully armed with a value offering.

Constantly though we challenge, do they (the company and the sales people) really understand what value means.

Its not a freebie.

If you think that a Value offering is a free laptop for a client (as one enthusiastic person once said to me) then stop reading here. If you think that Value is low cost and low pricing then I am happy to let your thoughts and attention wander to your own profit margin sheets and where you plan to have lunch today. If you truly believe that Value is something you have to offer, and that value has to be paid for, then stay with me. At least for a bit longer!

Right, those of us that are left - for us to move on we need to know that Value is not free. Value means ‘relative worth’ which means that for things to be of value, they should have a monetary or material worth to the person we sell to… oh… hang on… my ‘free laptop delegate' is back…. Let me clarify a little more.

When we sell value we do little more than justify what we do by stating all the things the client gets when he gives us either his hard earned cash or access to his hard fought for budget monies. What we do not justify or clearly understand is how much value this means for that person or his organization. Because to also be ‘of value’, people must part with some of that cash they have for your value proposition.

Now the laptop has a value but if it is given away without the recipient paying for it, does that not make it a ‘freebie’? and how often do your sales people use your value offerings as just that? Freebies?

Multiple levels of value and multiple value offerings

I spoke in a previous article about the different levels of value a company can work at with its client base. I mentioned the different levels a business can work at with a company and quite possible how a good business offering can traverse all 3 areas of a business. But how often do we just focus on one Value offering and think we have it made?

Getting the message wrong

I was recently in a reception of a large manufacturing company and stood watching the corporate presentation on a big plasma screen (you know the type!). It was fairly long, expertly made and quite impressive! The presentation not just the screen!

It talked about, multi channel expertise, market sector experience, the companies capabilities, the network and reach of their organisation.

There in the middle, one slide jumped out at me. It was a slide on the companies ‘Value offering’ Lovely presentation, great message but it struck me that there was the disconnect. I could not count all the slides in the presentation as I did not have time but it was a fair few. I could not work out the number of products, markets and channels, services and offering combinations including finance this company could offer as maths was never my strong point at school but what I could work out was the number of Value offerings this company claimed to have. Almost lost amidst the flashy logo, testimonial, look how big and great we are presentation was that one slide with 4 lines on. Just 4. And that included the heading!

I must admit I am too new into that relationship to comment on that presentation but what struck me was that for an organization as big and as proud they are, with SO many combinations of offerings to take to market they could only manage a paltry 3 lines on the value proposition. Think about it. Where are they then positioning themselves as a player in their vertical?

Of course, I also dread to think how the sales team position themselves with their clients, too.

Profitable they may be, but sustainable? Long term? I see cost cutting heading their way in the future.

When we talk Value, how many do we have and who should define it?

Is it right that they only have 3? From what I remember they were very important and quite impressive but 3 is surely not enough to differentiate us with our competitors in today’s modern market.

5 years ago we would have gone on about a value offering for an organisation and worked with client facing people to talk about particular aspects of their product or service. Maybe then 3 was enough. Maybe then, 3 generic value offerings were enough to differentiate from the competition or blindside the buyer / client.

But in the global economy we live in where for all of us things can be made often cheaper, sometimes faster, delivered quicker, possibly better suited, only understanding 3 value propositions is a travesty.

As an aside, ask yourself the question, who defines your value offering? You? Or your customer?

Pricing is only an issue when there is an absence of perceived value

As always heading into a new quarter, thoughts will turn to the subject of budgets, margins, growth, profits and targets. There will be talk on pricing, and the question asked ‘how do our competitors, customers and sales teams not make it a tough end of the year for us.

Well, if we think of Value, if we think of our value offering how do we truly, TRULY differentiate ourselves in a multi level, way? Across our services and products? Across our different markets or client types? Across the different levels of a business?

Modern businesses offerings need to look at not only one offering across the spectrum of their market but a multi level one. One that embraces the diverse range of people, buyers, clients, markets, products and service we all now operate with. One Value offering is just not acceptable and just three, a travesty.

I could see the lost potential earnings dripping away as that presentation scrolled through its brightly coloured screens.

Of course, businesses also need to make sure the marketing department knows and understands this. Oh, and they also need to make sure that the Sales Team know how to sell it, too! As if they did not have enough to do today!

Anyway, I am off to talk to some interesting people about how much they should charge for the donuts they plan to take into their clients on next week's ‘milk round’!

Keep the Faith

The content of this message represents the thoughts, ramblings and delusional visions of a self-confessed, music loving, joke telling, semi-annoying ‘sales junkie’ & ‘coaching addict’. And as such, the thoughts contained in it may not be entirely your cup-of tea (English tea). They are thought provoking, attention grabbing, in some cases rage inducing, but 100% factual, come from my semi tormented brain and clearly designed to make you stop and have an opinion. If they don’t, I am doing something wrong… and feel free to ask me to stop sending them to you.

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