The Product Is Not the Value Proposition

In a recent post I wrote about receiving pitches from sales people with only company and product centric information. The key focus of these messages is on the sales person’s company, their products/servicers and their needs for getting my business. Sometimes they also drop names of their customers in the message and sometimes they just claim that they have many customers. The main call-to-action is that they want to talk to me or meet with me in person to give a demo, explain their offering further or explore “business opportunties” (whatever that means).

They all fail to achieve their objective.

Selling requires speaking the language of the customer

Selling is not yelling

I am not talking about unsolicited and generic SPAM, because that is mostly caught in my SPAM filter and I never see it. I am talking about messages sent to my email address, addressing me by my name, sent to me via the social media platforms where I am present or delivered as a voice mail on my telephone (I never answer calls from people that are not in my contact list) asking for my time.

Sometimes the objective of the message is to sell me something and sometimes the objective is to get me to do something for the sales person, such as getting access to my network, getting me to recommend the person to someone or convince me to recommend or resell their products.

I can tell you with very high accuracy that none of these approaches have ever worked with me in the 40 years that I have been in business. Mostly because I couldn’t find the value in the message. Sometimes because the product/service was irrelevant to me and sometimes because I was not in the market for that type of product/service at the time I received the email or phone call. The sum of these three reasons makes 100%.

Am I an exception, meaning that in general these approaches work very well and yield great results? I don’t think so. So why does this senseless waste of resources continue?

The product is not the value proposition

In my work as an author, workshop facilitator and business advisor I meet with many information technology executives across the globe and it continues to puzzle me that only very few are familiar with the core frameworks for designing scalable revenue generation platforms. These core frameworks are:

  • The business model
  • The value propositions
  • The business model environment

The value proposition and the business model environment are actually integrated parts of the business model concept, but I have spelled them out separately here because most people are not aware of that.

These frameworks are well documented through the writing and work of Alexander Osterwalder and there are books, videos and training sessions available in abundance to help you learn how to use them. There are also consultants available in abundance that can help you apply the frameworks in your specific business.

The price is what we pay — the value is what we get

Nevertheless, most information technology executives do not read the books, they do not watch the videos, they do not attend the classes and they do not engage the consultants. The result is that they fail to recognise the need for clearly identifying the segments in the market that could get immense value from their product/service (instead they shoot at everything with a pulse). They fail to identify the value propositions that translate the features of the product/service into messages that are relevant to the potential buyers in their specific position in the buying cycle (instead they just hammer out company and product centric propaganda). They fail to recognise the channels that could be the most productive for getting the messages across and they fail to understand that engaging these channels also requires value propositions (you can buy advertising for money, but how do you make me recommend or resell your product/service?).

A change in mindset and behaviour is required

Can someone explain to me that while we all recognise that it takes a certain path of studying and practising to become a pilot, a plumber, a nurse, a medical doctor, a lawyer, a mechanical engineer, a carpenter and so on, we do not recognise the requirements for starting, running and growing a business. Don’t get me wrong — I am not advocating a scheme for public certification of entrepreneurs or business people. Heaven forbid such a bureaucracy. All I am asking is this: Why do so many entrepreneurs jump head first into the swimming pool without checking first if it is full of water, and if so, then how deep? Why don’t entrepreneurs at least read the two books on Business Model Generation and Value Proposition Design or just watch a couple of free videos on Youtube to get acquainted with how to translate all their efforts in developing a product/service into meaningful messages for their potential customers and potential channel partners.

Why?

How to use social media for sales purposes

In a coming series of posts starting August 3rd I will address the issues with using social media for sales purposes and give my recommendations for making it right. The title of the series is “Social Selling Without Situational and Contextual Content Is like Partying with Robots”.

On August 24th I start a series of posts titled “How to Generate Enough Leads to Meet Your Sales Budget” again focusing on how to use social media to engage with potential customers. Stay tuned and subscribe to my biweekly ejournal with useful tips and tricks for business development, marketing, sales and revenue generation professionals in the information technology industry.


Originally published at tbkconsult.com on July 27, 2016.