The following is an edited excerpt from the book The Irresistible Value Proposition: Make the Customer Want What You’re Selling and Want It Now by Steve Thompson.
“I really hate to tell you this, but we’ve decided to award the business to your competitor. I know you’ve worked hard for our business, but we’ve decided that ACME Corp. is simply a better fit for our business. I’m sorry, but the decision has been made.”
Your primary business contact wished you luck, and when she hung up the phone, the silence was deafening.
What just happened?
This was your biggest opportunity for the quarter. In fact, just one month ago, your team did a terrific job on the proof of concept, and you were told by the same business contact that, technically, your solution ranked number one. To make matters worse, your boss had repeatedly reminded you that this was a “must-win” opportunity for you and your team. You have a lot of explaining to do, as sales management — not to mention your spouse — will want to know why you just lost this key deal!
At the end of the day, this disappointing outcome can be chalked up to one simple fact: the customer did not buy from you because they didn’t see the value of your offer.
Have you ever lost a key deal you were sure you had in the bag? Does your success — in the “field” or as a manager — increasingly rely on winning a handful of critical must-win deals?
If so, this book is for you, as it is for every sales professional making a living in the B2B world — finding, positioning, proposing, negotiating, and closing critical deals with other businesses. After all, your job is only getting harder as customers have unprecedented (and growing) access to information about your products and your other customers.
Add to that the increasing complexity of solutions being offered and the growing number of key buying influencers on the customer side, all of which introduces a huge dose of uncertainty into the equation.
Who are these influencers?
What is important to each of them?
And what if they are not fully aligned (which is almost certainly the case)?
For two decades I have developed and grown my consulting business around B2B deals, supporting more than $15 billion in over 120 different industries. I have done this for both selling and buying organizations. And with the increasing complexity of B2B sales, which also impacts subsequent negotiations and influences account management after the sale, I have observed that the salespeople who are likely to win more business are the ones who can manage uncertainty, reduce risk, and make it easier for the customer to make a buying decision that they feel comfortable with.
Now, let’s revisit our deceptively simple premise: Customers choose you and award you the business because they see the value of your offer. If they don’t, it’s because they don’t see the value. That’s it.
But these outwardly simple statements are deceptive because of the difficulty of both understanding and communicating your value — specifically through a value proposition. That’s what this book is about: gaining a deep understanding of your value and communicating that value in an irresistible value proposition that will make your customer excited about what you’re offering.
But let’s be clear: The customer being excited about your offering is not the same as closing the deal. You must also manage uncertainty and risk before you can close, and we will address these skills later in this series of books.
As I mentioned, about half of my work involves training and consulting on the buying side. As a result, my viewpoint allows me to bring you an invaluable perspective from the other side of the table. In these engagements I help procurement specialists, purchasing managers, and business executives at some of the largest companies in the world to position and negotiate better and more strategic deals with their key suppliers. Working with these organizations, I have developed a simple but powerful framework that represents the customer’s view of an ideal journey — one that results in a mutually beneficial, long-term business relationship.
If my career as a salesperson, sales manager, consultant, trainer, and author has taught me one thing, it is that if a customer wants to buy in a certain way, it is generally a lot easier to sell to them that way rather than forcing them to conform to the way I would like to sell. I have also found that world-class sales organizations share a common trait: they execute — day in and day out. And the fundamentals of execution drive more success than any other factor.
But it’s important to note that this is not a new sales process we are introducing. Instead, the Must-Win Deals series follows an overarching framework called the Value Lifecycle™, which looks at how the customer views an ongoing business relationship and the critical things they need from you and your organization to award you the business and retain you as a valued supplier. Our objective is to focus on those critical few outputs or customer interactions that are key to executing any sales process. Thus, whatever your current process may be, we are simply “supercharging” it to ensure effective execution.
A wise person once said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
In The Irresistible Value Proposition, I will provide you with the strategy (to win the business) and the right tactics (value creation and value propositions) — the critical elements that, executed well, will make it easier for the customer to get excited about, and want, what you are selling.
But before tackling the subjects of value creation and value propositions, let’s first understand the context in which value is created by determining what we are really competing against.
To keep reading, pick up your copy of The Irresistible Value Proposition: Make the Customer Want What You’re Selling and Want It Now by Steve Thompson.