The art of value messaging rests in how effectively your salespeople can paint the value they can provide to address your clients’ industry- and professionally specific needs. Britta Lorenz was joined by Kruger Marketing’s CEO, Felix Krueger, to review the formula behind developing and conveying impactful value messages.
Let's start at the beginning
What is value-based messaging, and why is it so important? At its core, value messaging serves as a framework to convert your organization’s capabilities and competencies into the relevant context of your marketplace. As a result, it is a powerful tool for all sales activities, mainly when opening new doors and meeting new customers.
But to break it down even further, we need to understand what we mean by value. Krueger shared a recent find that perfectly summarizes the term; value is the perceived benefit of taking action and acquiring the outcome you are after. In other words, the perceptions of what we aim to gain from taking a specific action define how we evaluate business deals in B2B. For example, when deciding whether to enter an agreement, the decision-making units of companies (on both sides) weigh the returned benefit for their business if they agree to purchase an offered solution (e.g., implement a particular technology platform). Hence, value-based selling aims to adopt the exclusive views of your client when characterizing the benefits of your organization.
You are bound to connect with and talk to different individuals in varying roles while conducting your sales activities. Each of these will have a separate set of issues and a different mindset, thus demanding the ability to adapt your value message to the diversity of perspectives you will encounter. Therefore, it is undoubtedly necessary to exercise a human-centric approach to creating and distributing your value message if you want to resonate with your target market.
What to expect from the value messaging process...
To summarize, there is no ‘one size fits all’ value message that your organization can create. Some misconceptions arise with this topic, but here are some recommendations from Krueger to guide you in the right direction:
- Agree and establish the simplest version of your company’s value message(s) as the bedrock of your framework. This base will align communication with the outside world but allow your salespeople to customize how the product value is framed and disclosed to specific clients.
- However, avoid the assumption that creating a value message will guarantee sales success! There is no magic formula, no quick fix. Building a value message and conducting value-based selling is a structured process. It requires extensive research to gather as much relevant industry and market data as possible. With this information, you can visualize an accurate impression of the market. Consequently, you can add relevant details and characteristics to your value messaging framework and use it to steer sales conversations.
- Though it is a tendency amongst salespeople, avoid framing your value messages around your company’s assumptions of your solutions.
- Value messaging should be perceived as value dialogues. Therefore, try to avoid any unilateral communication, especially with value messaging. Instead, use this framework to lead sales conversations, the basis on which to build the dialogue around your business’s and product’s capabilities.
- Every single person that you talk to and share your value messages is unique. Regardless of whether you contact the same buyer role across companies in the same industry, you will encounter distinctive mentalities. Remain flexible in how you communicate but stay true to the support of your messaging framework.
How can marketing and sales enablement help sales to integrates value messages into customer conversations?
One way in which marketing can support salespeople is by supplying complementary content catered to the value messages presented in sales dialogues. It is a powerful method to bring your solutions to life while working remotely, to which none of us are strangers. Leverage the content-production competencies of your marketing team to extend the credibility of your value messages.
Krueger emphasized the importance behind the capabilities of virtual marketing, such as the direct messaging functionality on websites or the ability to track visitors on your website. These tools act as a mechanism to test specific elements in your messaging and observe the levels of engagement with published content. With particular reference to web analytics, marketing can track the type of engagement your content generates and which assets your salespeople are sharing with prospects.
The scope is much broader when talking about sales enablement since it is the translator, facilitator, and hypothetical glue between customer-facing teams. Krueger explains that enablement is in a prime position to facilitate the value message development process and embed the resulting messages within the organization in the long term. Sales enablement is responsible for gathering representatives from various departments like sales, marketing, customer success, and product development to collect general intelligence on the value you can deliver to clients and thus generate your value messages. But Krueger recommends streamlining this process by having the team gather this intelligence from the departments separately and then bringing them together at the end of the process to verify and review the final messages. Enablement is the owner of your organization’s value messages since they regularly up-keep the relevance and adjust for possible changes in the market.
What role can AI play in value-based selling?
AI can aid the process of generating value messages, particularly for congregating intelligence from varying sources. For example, social listening and transcribing phone calls can provide information that can direct and later validate your value statements. However, despite these different methods in which AI can help salespeople, they should not take over talking to customers and sharing the unique version of your value message to that particular customer. It is a creative process, after all, to decide how to frame messages to fit the customer’s perspective and situation, so AI can and should only be helping in the development stages. Creativity is a superpower that we have as people and especially as sales teams, so we need to take charge of that in our delivery.
Required skills for concise and effective value-based selling
Before approaching a customer with a prepared value message, we need to have the skills to embrace the perspectives of our customers and market to understand their needs truly. Therefore, having empathy and exceptional listening are essential skills that determine how well your information is received. Your salespeople need to have their ear out, listening for the core of a prospect’s pain points and how existing customers currently use their products. Also, tune in to understand why lost customers decided not to employ your product or service. Finally, be honest enough with yourself to paint a realistic image of the functions and value you can deliver, and for this, you need first-rate empathy and listening skills.
When it gets to the stage of articulating concise messages, it’s beneficial to incorporate the ingrained communication and copywriting skills of marketing. It is challenging to harmonize all the inputs you previously collected from various departments into understandable, digestible ideas. However, it produces a critical skill and competitive advantage in developing short and crisp value statements when achieved. Instead of drowning your clients in all the information you discovered, you should aim to hit the nail on the head every chance you speak to them.
What methods can we use to ensure that salespeople are communicating our product value?
It comes up time and time again, but coaching persists as one of the best methods to reinforce newly taught techniques and increase the awareness of salespeople. Taking the time to dissect sales call recordings and observe sales presentations are effective methods to help salespeople assimilate their new skills. You can realize the best results from coaching when you have the opportunity to witness how your sales team acts in real-life situations, either by being present in them or by looking back on them retrospectively. Krueger explains that roleplays are sufficient to a certain degree because they lack a realistic or authentic element compared to interacting with an actual client. However, it can still be helpful to practice delivering value messages as many people freeze up and forget their training and frameworks when under the pressure of a customer meeting.
"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." - Mike Tyson
Another way to secure that your value messages sink in is through repetition. Try to avert finalizing your value message and leaving it in your company shared drive, forgotten to rot. Consequently, you will need to emphasize and revisit your archive of messages. Enablement can achieve this by setting designated meetings to update your value message archive or repeatedly refer to your messaging in your training and coaching exercises.
Secret tips from Felix's experiences...
- Gather intelligence from everyone to set yourself up for painting the best image of your customers and market before building your value messages. This includes but is not limited to customer-facing teams, existing customers, new customers, prospects, lost prospects, industry experts, and more. Formulate a holistic value message as a result.
- Mold your message in a way that your audience will be more receptive to it. We've established that being empathetic to your customers is necessary for framing your service's value, but there is more to it. There are two skills you will need to tailor your message to connect with your audience:
- Exhaustive industry knowledge - Your salespeople need to follow and understand the dynamics of their industry and the dynamics of the prospect's status. With this knowledge, they can decide how your product or service can respond to these trends.
- Business acumen - Understanding the specialized interests and expectations of the various roles you interact with and communicating with them in a way they can relate. If you find yourself speaking with a CEO, open the conversation explaining how your product can capture demand and reduce costs rather than presenting its unique features.
About Felix Krueger
Through his agency, Krueger Marketing, Felix Krueger is striving to bring sales enablement to Australian companies. His focus lies in the content space and assisting clients to establish fluid collaboration between sales and marketing. He also raises awareness on the topic through his podcast, The State of Sales Enablement Podcast With Felix Krueger. Felix’s career in the technology industry has seen him work as a project manager, marketer, and salesperson. In addition, he has worked with major companies like Adobe, Oracle, and IBM to create content that connects brands by appealing to the interests of C-suite.
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