If It Don’t Make Dollars, It Don’t Make Sense

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With an uncertain economic environment and higher cost of capital, your buyers are as “Cold as ICE”. They are more:

  • In-control of the purchase process, 
  • Cautious about making the wrong procurement decision, and
  • Economic-focused, requiring significant positive business outcomes to get to “Yes”.

Your Buyers need to clearly understand:

  • If the business problem you are addressing is strategic, significant and a priority,
  • If there is a substantial tangible economic impact and positive return on investment,
  • If you, your organization, and proposed solution can deliver with assured success.

Unfortunately, when sellers engage with new prospects, over 56% of sellers still revert to what they know best: bragging-up your company, and exhaustively demonstrating your solutions and features. 

And when it comes to existing customers, a whopping 88% of account managers and customer success focus on adoption metrics to assure value delivery and pitch new products / services using a standard playbook rather than a true understanding of prior business problems solved, challenges remaining and a quantified outcome / value-based approach.

We call this disconnect the Value Gap, the divide between today’s buyer expectations and commercial team approach, and it can have a significant impact on your ability to capture new business growth or retain and expand existing customers.

According to Gartner research, the combination of a tightened economy and the value gap conspire to: 

  • Elongate new purchase cycles by 7 to 10 months,
  • Cancel over 50% of buying efforts before they are completed,
  • Increase discounts needed to get new deals or renewals, by 20% or more.

As these impacts add up, for every $1M in qualified new opportunity pipeline, what used to be $300k in wins is now slashed 75% to a meager $72k in closed deals.

With less budget and a desire to do more with less, more than 20% of existing customers are seeking to downgrade their annual commitments at renewal time, and doubling churn rates from 5% to nearer 10%  can be expected by the end of 2023. 

Getting Buyers to “Yes”

Gartner indicates that today’s buyer lacks the confidence needed to overcome indecision on new purchases and reaffirm commitments on existing investments. A fear of failure has been dramatically amplified.  

In order for solution providers to get to “Yes”, faster and with no regret, buyers indicate that the most valuable information solution providers delivered that fueled the final decision was:

#1 – Understanding my business and situation (43%)
#2 – Collaborating on my outcomes and value (31%)
#3 – Driving confidence in the decision (22%)

This key information which buyers rely upon to make good purchase decisions, aligns with the three “buy buttons” in the decision maker’s brain, and matches what Aristotle highlights as the key ways to “make friends and influence people”. 

The key information, buy buttons and Aristotle all align as follows:

#1 – Understanding my business and situation – Before pitching your solutions, buyers want to know that you understand their business and situation, and moreover, know the market and peers enough to guide them on the priority business problems they should be addressing. 

To do this effectively, you have to discover and illuminate the “Pain” they are experiencing, stimulating the first buy button, the primitive reptilian R-complex within the decision maker’s brain, and leveraging what Aristotle called Pathos (emotions). It is the severity of the “Pain”, the activation of the ancient fight-flight response that will spark the desire to abandon the status quo, and motivate your prospect to overcome budget barriers, team skepticism and decision doubt on the way to “Yes”. 

To do this you can help educate buyers on the typical challenges you are seeing in their industry from other peers, discovering and assessing your prospects’ unique problems, and quantifying the impacts of “do nothing”. Equally applicable to motivate new prospects or retain and grow existing customers.

#2 – Collaborating on my outcomes and value – There is increased scrutiny on each purchase, requiring formal financial justification on every significant decision. 

Buyers want to know that the decision makes fiscal sense and the “Gain” that can be achieved for new prospects, or the “Gain” delivered for existing customers. Aristotle speaks of Logos, the logical arguments to make the case, and this aligns with pressing the second buy button in the decision maker’s brain, the Neocortex, the sense-making part of the brain. 

For new prospects, you have to clearly articulate the business value outcomes that proposed solutions are expected to uniquely deliver, putting together a formal business case to document the costs, savings, benefits and return on investment (ROI). For renewals, and as a base for expansions, customer success has to move beyond adoption and service related metrics to now quantifying the realized value and ROI that has actually been achieved.

#3 – Driving confidence in the decision – According to Gartner, “Customer indecision due to a fear of failure (the omission bias) is the biggest driver of delays and no decisions, more so than the bias to remain with the “status quo”. 

For today’s buyer, wrong decision could mean their job. Failure is not an option. In such a risk averse environment, trust becomes a key decision driver – trust in you, your solution, and the decision itself. Buyers need to be “Certain” that the outcomes can be achieved. Trust aligns with the third buy button in the decision maker’s brain, the limbic system and midbrain, and what Aristotle called Ethos (Trust).

For decision makers to gain Trust and be confident in their decisions, the buying team needs to know that others just like them have overcome similar business problems with your solutions, and successfully achieved the desired outcomes and positive return on investment.

Bridging the Value Gap with Inspired Value Storytelling

What if you could bridge the Value Gap, implementing the right value storytelling program – the right messaging, content, tools, intelligence, people and processes – you need to motivate buyers to “Yes” on your new proposals and renewals, faster and with less discounting?

Inspired Value Storytelling is the answer, empowering your content, sellers and customer success team to effectively communicate and quantify the value of your solutions – to better attract, engage, sell, retain and grow customers.

An Inspired Value Storytelling Program delivers the essential elements needed to elevate your commercial approach – from pitching your company and trying to differentiate on products / services, features and price, to more effectively engaging buyers about their pain, quantifying potential gains with your solution, and proving that outcomes are certain.

An Inspired Value Storytelling program can be built incrementally with a set of key value building blocks, including:

  • MESSAGING – Developing inspired value messaging using the PIVOT storytelling framework (an arc from Pain to Impact to Vision to Outcome and finally to Trust) to transform your go-to-market, sales and success content from product-focused to value-centric.
  • CONTENT – Leveraging the PIVOT value storytelling framework to create value engagement content to fuel marketing, sales and success engagements, specifically: 
    • Value infographics – outlining the PIVOT messaging using visual storytelling,
    • Point-of-Value (PoV) presentations – communicating the PIVOT value storytelling in visual form to fuel virtual meetings and customer engagements,
    • Economic impact whites papers – documenting typical savings, benefits and ROI for a composite example company,
    • Value case studies – specific exemplary customer outcomes and stories,
    • Value benchmark reports – leveraging intelligence collected from Tools, documenting the average value achievements across the customer base and for specific industry and other customer segments.
  • TOOLS Interactive value enablement applications to help discover and assess business problem opportunities and quantify business value outcomes, helping to empower engagements, automate analysis and build more credible business case reports. These value enablement tools typically consist of: 
    • interactive Assessments – to help buyers understand where they are today in their capability and maturity, and where you could take them on the road to improvement and excellence, highlighting their positive progress, priority shortfalls and gaps, solutions to close the gaps and potential value from improving.
    • ROI calculator – A self-service lead generation and educational tool, accessed and leveraged by prospects from the corporate web-site
    • ROI sales tool – Used by sellers and specialists to build financial justification business cases and ROI reports for prospects.
    • Post-deployment value realization tool – Used by customer success and specialists to quantify the value delivered post-deployment, developing outcome-focused business review reports.
  • INTELLIGENCE – Leveraging data collected from the value enablement tools and from content usage, not just tracking usage and adoption of the tools and content, but validating impact on deals, and moreover, understanding key buyer metrics such as challenge priorities, proposed and achieved value, and ROI. The intelligence can be leveraged to develop benchmark content, optimize programs and guide more effective engagements.
  • PEOPLE – Assembling the right specialist and enablement team and organizing members to deliver superior deal and engagement support, develop and deliver value training and certification. This includes hiring the right leadership and team members as the program grows.
    • Value center of excellence – Organizing the team into a program office to drive programs and optimization,
    • Value training and certification – Assuring that all commercial team members and specialists are trained and certified in value tools, content and best practices,
    • Value deal desk – Delivering direct specialist support for the largest and most important deals and retentions,
    • Hiring profiling and team scoring – Assuring that value specialists / engineers are the right ones to lead and support the program growth.
  • PROCESS – Applying value content, tools and interactions in a methodical approach, at each step in the engagement process between the commercial team and prospects / customers. This includes developing the rules and governance for engagements,  documenting and applying best practices on how to best articulate and present value,  overcome objections, and achieve engagement success. Integral to the process is a consistent analysis of success and a passion to optimize from lessons learned.

The Inspired Value Storytelling Program should provide buyers with the information they need to motivate and accelerate their purchase decisions throughout their relationship with you – from initial attraction through purchase, renewal and growth.

The Value Lifecycle outlines the type of Inspired Value Storytelling elements needed to implement your program throughout the lifetime of your buyer’s journey and customer relationship, from:

  • Attract – Attracting prospects with value marketing content and tools, helping buyers to realize they have business problems worth addressing, that these challenges have a real cost, and ultimately understanding “Why Change?”
  • Engage – Helping buyers understand the priority of more urgently addressing their business problems and assuring a solution exists to effectively address the challenges and deliver tangible business outcomes, answering the question “Why Now?”
  • Sell – Getting buyers to “Yes” by providing formal financial justification, differentiating and proving that you can assure success and deliver the promised ROI, answering the question “Why You?”
  • Retain and Expand – Proving value realized from existing solutions and the additional value that expanding the relationship with you can deliver, answering the question “Why Renew?”

The Bottom Line

Implementing an Inspired Value Storytelling Program can help to bridge the Value Gap, elevating your organization from product-focused to value-centric. This can help improve buyer engagements, helping to generate new opportunities, close more business, while retaining and growing existing customers.

Leveraging an Inspired Value Storytelling Program has been proven to:

  • Improve competitive advantage by 5x,
  • Improve win rates from 32% to more than 75%, and
  • Reduce sales cycles by 1/3rd
  • Reducing churn by 50% and improving up/cross-sell by 33%.

For every $1M in sales pipeline, this can result in at least $250k of incremental sales via more accelerated wins, boosted retention and enhanced growth.

Source: Gartner 2022 Buyer Enablement Study

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