If you’re in sales, then the chances are you attend networking events as a way to generate more leads. But if you’re finding the results a little disappointing then it may mean you need a clearer, more compelling ‘value proposition’.
Remember, networking is about encouraging your network to refer customers to you; it’s not just about selling to the people in your direct network. A value proposition presents a clear picture of what you do that it is both memorable and referable to others.
1. The core value of your business
Even though it’s a product or service that we are seeking to sell, start by detailing the core value of your business. Some people express this as a mission statement, others as a purpose or passion or reason that they entered into business. That gives context to the sales conversation, your prospect can confirm he’s in the right place and understands why your business is the one to talk to.
The opening must be both brief and compelling. It should be consistent with your printed materials and website, and yet it also needs to be conversational. The more passionately it is delivered the more memorable you will be.
2. Your approach
The second element is how you approach working with clients, their experience, how they feel, the reactions that you get. For example a travel agent may say here that our clients leave us wanting to tell their friends not just about where they are going, but how we made sure their holiday is tailored to their needs. They feel a deep sense of excited anticipation.
That gives depth to the context of the sale and helps to let prospects understand what it is like to buy from you.
3. Your products and services
Now we can move to the thing we want to sell If it is possible to present these in graphical or visual form, or with a sample then you are likely to create a more memorable recognition of the breadth of your services. For example an accountant may offer annual reporting, tax advice, book keeping, and payroll. As a list it’s hard to remember. A graphic makes things easier.
Think about design too, a circle might imply that (for that service) every aspect is covered. A square can imply that the boundaries are well understood, etc.
4. The process you follow
This gives people a sense of the steps that follow a purchase. For example a consultant may start with an analysis phase, then a specification and strategic analysis phase, and finally delivering a change programme in conjunction with the client’s project managers. An engineer may describe specifying the product, manufacturing a prototype, testing, and finally producing the order.
By providing the steps and detail of what happens after the sale is completed you give confidence to the buyer that you are in control.
5. Additional information
Include information that adds additional value to clients and which stand you out from the market. This is best done in story form. For example, in periods of high core volumes following a power cut, one electricity company provided additional information by SMS to affected customers. This kind of proactive intervention helps to ensure your message includes the value that you place on customer service.
6. Selling to the right audience
The key element here is; the target market. It is tempting to be generic. However the more generic your target market is the less likely it is that there will be confusion about customer needs and expectations, as you should truly understand what is required and how to deliver to those needs.
Clarity matters here. For example; a culture and change management consultancy might indicate that they “work with successful executives and business owners seeking to exit”. This is a small sub set of people but for those in that situation the quality of service will be very high.
By being clear you focus sales where you can add most value and avoid wasting time with sales prospects for whom you are not a good fit.
7. Follow up
When you get any referrals that meet your ideal prospect the pitch has already been partly defined – and then you can clarify further in order to drive directly to their needs. Following up a referral is vital – without follow up you risk wasting the previous six steps.
In the absence of a value proposition that is both clearly and relevantly expressed making sales will be an issue for your business, but in their presence there will be a steady flow of well qualified and relevant sales that lead to top quality business.
By William Buist, CEO of Abelard and Founder of xTEN Club, owner of Abelard Collaborative Consultancy, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club - an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners.