With virtual sales being the current norm, and face-to-face sales on hold, engaging with buyers feels more challenging. This is true even though we have been using digital methods all along. Whether using email or video or LinkedIn, many of us are not sure what the right message is for a buyer. Not having the opportunity for true face-to-face access has shifted field sellers’ own perception of what to do and how. Inside salespeople have a leg up over field sellers but face challenges too. Instead of saying “Hope you are doing well in these challenging times,” what are the right things to say during a phone call? What are the right words for a sales email in this environment? What kind of sales pitch do you build when you are at a virtual event or tradeshow? The pandemic may be putting pressure on our selling efforts. We all are uncertain about what will “stick” with our buyers. Is our core value proposition even relevant now?
Are You Answering the Right Buyer Question?
The truth is that your message may not be as relevant as you think in the buyer’s current mindset and experience. How clearly are you articulating your understanding of the challenges they face? What are the hopes and fears that they have for their business in the middle of everything that is surrounding all of us right now? What is a seller to do? I propose that instead of pitching your product or service (and boy, do I hate the word PITCH), you should aim for creating a value-based sales message centered on their business situation, need, or challenge. Hold off on the sales pitch, and set yourself up for success by making sure you are poised to answer the RIGHT buyer question. Here are three questions to consider. Which one do you think is the right one?
Move past Standard Sales Copy
First, consider what question you have been answering up to this point. I’m going to bet that it is either the first or the second question. They are standard questions and fundamentally represent what we want to talk to our buyers about. But the challenge with those two questions is that they often are quickly answered with a litany of features and benefits to draw a buyer into the details of the offering. Seems good, right? Well, yes, until they start asking questions about the value it delivers in terms of their own situation. Then it gets much harder because you must pull yourself out of the details and move back up a conversational level or two. Are you prepared for that? What is your sales messaging strategy? Many sellers scramble a bit at this point. I’ve been in that position myself a time or two!
Instead, what if you shifted your focus to answering the third question? What is most important for me, your buyer, to consider? What I like about this question is that it implies “net it out for me.” Don’t drag me through all the nitty gritty details. I have already pulled that information from your website and your competitors as well. I don’t need to hear it again. What is most important to me? Do you know? As a buyer, I want to hear about the VALUE I will get from you. How does your offer fit in with my needs, challenges, situation? Show me a story that mirrors where I am and shows me where I could be if I choose your offer.
Add a “mirror” to Your Sales Storytelling
I believe that a value proposition is the beginning of a conversation, not the whole conversation. What that means is you DO need to net out all the things that you want to say and begin with what buyers want to hear – from their perspective. I call this setting up the “mirror story” in your message. If you reflect where your buyer is today and describe it in a way that demonstrates you understand the impacts of the situation, your message starts getting sticky right from the start. But first, get crystal clear on who you are targeting to create a story that is relevant. Sounds obvious – but too many of us try to tell a story that fits everyone because we don’t want to miss out on any opportunities. The more generic you are, the less sticky that story becomes.
Customize Your Sales Message by Industry or Persona
Having different versions improves the chance for buyer resonance. Talk to buyers about themselves, not everybody – and they will pay more attention to what you have to say. Make the shift from “I have a solution to your problem” to “this is my understanding about your problem.” Do some homework first. What is going on in their markets? What kind of insights can you weave into the value prop, so that when they read or hear it, they say, “Oh yeah, that’s me.” When you lead with their story, you get attention. Then work on tailoring your discovery questions to be more targeted and relevant around their experience. Move into your offerings after that when you can validate what you know about the buyer and learn more from them directly. That is the path to “stickiness” – tailoring how you present your offering in a relevant context.
Need more ideas? Watch me on The Krista Moore show where I talk about getting more buyer-focused in your value propositions.