Creating and Capturing Value in B2B Sales
The key to creating and capturing value in B2B sales organizations often lies in the alignment between sales and delivery or customer success. As an organization, you need an efficient mechanism that enables your teams to speak the same language ensuring that what is promised in the sales process can actually be delivered on after the initial deal is signed. This connection can be a differentiator for a selling organization. It can also help with some of the underlying reasons that cause buyers to choose your solution over others.
A recent study published in Harvard Business Review revealed that B2B buyers often find value in having an emotional connection to a solution, including things like whether the product makes their job easier or if the customer feels like a salesperson is commitment to him/her. Researchers write,
"As B2B offerings become ever more commoditized, the subjective, sometimes quite personal concerns that business customers bring to the purchase process are increasingly important."
Excellence, strong performance, product quality, expertise and responsiveness rated as correlated to loyalty. In fact, customers were more likely to recommend an IT infrastructure company the more companies delivered on subjective value elements (e.g., transparency, responsiveness, stability). The article makes it clear that it's not about what you believe your value propositions are, it's the buyer's perception of that value and differentiation that drives repeat business and stickiness with customers.
Whatever you're selling, the value of the product clearly lies in its execution. However, value is more than just delivery. We challenge our customers to conceptualize value in three ways:
- How you create value for the customer
- How you capture value and gain credit for the value you provide throughout delivery
- How you equip your account teams to articulate that value to new prospects and for cross-sell/up-sell opportunities.
It's not about what you think, it's about what the customer thinks. The more you (1) understand your customer's definition of value and (2) deliver on it, the more you can use your results (proof points) and your delivery (how you do it and do it better) as evidence for future opportunities.
Here are three areas we see as a weakness in many sales organizations:
1. No consistent language that helps assess opportunities and closed deals
Without organizational alignment, what was promised to the customer in sales can get murky when it comes to delivery and customer success. You need a mechanism that ensures everyone is speaking the same language as it relates to value delivery and metrics. Customers that use our Value Messaging Framework will recognize these elements as positive business outcomes, required capabilities and metrics. In other words, what is the customer looking to achieve, what's required to get there and how will the customer measure success? Is every department within the customer engagement process clear on the answers to those questions? Without clear and consistent answers, you'll never be able to capture customer value.
2. Lack of a process that masters the hand-off
Who does what and when do they do it in your sales organization? Who is responsible for ensuring that you deliver on the metrics promised in the sales cycle? Having a consistent language is a big step in the right direction, but you need to go further. Who is accountable for what and at what stage? How are you moving the buyer to the various stages within your customer engagement process? Remember, value isn't determined on one entry point. Your sales team is part of a much larger set of skills that interact with the customer along the process. How are you ensuring your internal teams are aligned in executing the promised value?
3. Selling methodology that equips reps to articulate the value in conversation
Indeed, you need to deliver in a way that makes you better than the competition and differentiates your solutions, but it's not enough to just deliver that value. You need to get credit for it and you need to filter that knowledge throughout the organization so your salespeople can articulate it with other prospects. Many companies have great proof of success with customers, but may lack the ability to filter it back to the sales teams so they can articulate it in a way that has meaning to future buyers. It's not enough to create a case study or a video testimonial featuring your proof points. Your account teams need a methodology that equips them with the skills to flip those proofs back to new buyers, in a way that resonates with them. How are those proof points aligned to the current buyer's needs and required capabilities for success? Are your account teams audible-ready to articulate that proof of success? If not, get them there.
Elite sales organizations understand the need for alignment around creating, capturing and articulating value. Without that alignment, the ability to scale, grow and increase market share dwindles. No matter your differentiation, it will fall flat if you don't have the processes that make it matter. Take the needed steps to build the alignment and create a process that builds value repeatedly, rather than distract from it.