When you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. Seven out of ten B2B customers say they need to understand a vendor’s value proposition before making a purchase. Which, to those customers, means one thing: they want justification for the price they’re being asked to pay. Seven out of ten. In electoral politics, this is a mandate. Know how many vendors convey this kind of a value prop today? Nine percent.
We’ve done the research. It’s all here in our book. And it’s not anecdotal. We plowed through hundreds of commercial web sites across a number of industries and questioned hundreds of customers. Another way of looking at it: only one out of ten vendors is imparting the knowledge wanted most by seven out of ten customers. Seems like a few opportunities are being missed here, doesn’t it?
Problem is, when a buyer starts asking questions, a vendor reflexively starts reciting from the company hymnal. The buyer wants to hear about a benefit and gets a lecture on features. Buyer wants to know what the product’s going to do for him/her and how hard (or easy) the process will be to get there. Vendor keeps repeating variations on the “better, cheaper, faster” mantra. In other words, the buyer and the seller are not only on different pages, they’re reading different books. In different languages. What we have here is a failure to communicate.
To us, it begins with the whole concept of what a value proposition is: simple math. It’s the quantified value the buyer perceives in the product’s benefit minus the cost of adopting the product and the price paid. The greater the positive difference, the stronger the “value” proposition. It is a measurable quantity. And therein lies the problem. To a lot of vendors, their “value proposition” becomes an elevator pitch about the product’s competitive advantages and subjective superiority. It’s qualitative. And wholly inadequate.
So what does this have to do with cold-calling? If you believe that your “value proposition” is simply the right combination of words and effective delivery of them, you’ll assume that interrupting someone with a plea to listen to you is as effective a means as any to start the selling process. If, on the other hand, you understand your target well enough to know the relevance of your proposition to his perception of value you’ll know exactly how that target is best approached. And it’s probably not a phone call out of the blue.