How to define your company’s value and differentiate from the herd
Working with business leaders and sales professionals, I have come to realize the difficulty many, if not most, have when articulating who their company is, what they do, and what makes them different from others. Most will feel caught off guard by the question as they probably did not have the opportunity to prepare for the question in advance. Many may attempt to fumble through an explanation, while others may hide from the question entirely. Even fewer may pause, collect their thoughts, and tell their story in a compelling way—drawing the customer in to learn more about the company.
Sales professionals attempting to articulate their value proposition with prospective customers may give the same responses more often than they would care to admit. Some are well prepared—they shake hands with a customer, introduce themselves, and articulate a simple value proposition that explains who they are, what they are, and what makes them different. Others know it’s important to finish that sequence with a simple request to learn more about the customer’s business.
However, there are many that freeze and fumble through their introduction and request. Rather than leading with a hand shake and personal introduction, they lead with a business card, brochure, or catalog and start to rattle off things about their company—hoping to draw some interest. In fact, many hope the customers take over the conversation to put them—the sales professionals— at-ease. Meetings like this are often quite short. Customers hear the words products, brands, lowest price, and quote, and proceed to thank the sales professionals for their time and decline further discussion due to their satisfaction with their existing partner.
So, why does this happen? The answer is relatively simple. Either sales professionals are ill-prepared (or not properly trained) to articulate their company’s value proposition, or the company has not done a good job of defining its value and teaching its team how to articulate it to customers.
Sales professionals attempting to articulate their value proposition with prospective customers may give the same responses more often than they would care to admit.
Value is created for customers by providing them some tangible benefit for the price they are willing to pay for the products or services you provide them (i.e., Benefit – Cost = Value). Value can also be viewed as the satisfaction a customer receives from utilizing the services of a company.
Here are a few examples of the products, services and benefits a distributor of cleaning supplies might provide to its customers:
|Product or Service||Benefit|
|Leading Brands||Products that offer superior performance and lower total costs|
|Subject Matter Expertise||Expert knowledge to solve problems unique to a business|
|Training||On-line and hands-on training to improve user performance.|
Here are a few examples of the services and benefits a building services or cleaning contractor might provide to its customer:
|Product or Service||Benefit|
|Specialty Services||Ability to provide customers with a single resource for all their cleaning needs|
|Quality Assurance||Real-time capabilities to perform audits, generate work requests, and take and document corrective actions|
After zeroing in on some of the benefits that customers receive from products or services, it is important to explain how the benefit(s) will impact customers’ businesses (i.e., the value proposition).
Translating Benefits into a Value Proposition
A value proposition is a statement that explains the benefit that is offered and how it will impact customers’ businesses. Let’s build on two of the examples from the last section and describe the impact they have:
|Subject Matter Expertise||Expert knowledge to solve problems unique to a business||Expertise to help achieve goals|
|Quality Assurance||Mobile tools to perform audits, generate work requests, and take and document corrective actions||Real-time inspections and corrective actions to ensure cleaning results|
Now, let’s develop value propositions for the distributor of cleaning supplies and the building service contractor based on the previously established points.
|Distributor of Cleaning Supplies|
|Who We Are||We are a distributor of cleaning supplies to the healthcare market.|
|What We Do||We provide a variety of products and services designed to meet the specific needs of environmental services professionals.|
|What Makes Us Different||We are experts in the areas of employee productivity. We develop and implement comprehensive solutions that bring people, tools and equipment, processes, and training together to achieve the cleaning performance and reduce operating expenses.|
|Building Service Contractor|
|Who We Are||We are a building services contractor to the Class A office building sector.|
|What We Do||We provide a variety of services designed to address the daily, periodic, and restorative cleaning needs of building owners and property managers.|
|What Makes Us Different||We are driven by quality assurance, and we utilize mobile tools for real-time inspections and corrective actions that provide transparency in our work and deliver outstanding cleaning results.|
Articulating a value proposition is essential to winning new customers. It defines the value a company brings to customers, and why that company is different from its competitors. The ability to articulate a value proposition requires business leaders to define how the business creates value (and for whom).
Value is created for customers by providing them some tangible benefit for the price they are willing to pay for the products or services you provide them.
It also requires sales professionals to thoroughly understand the value their companies provide to customers and how this value impacts their business. Without a clearly defined value and the ability to articulate it to prospective customers, a company’s struggle to differentiate from the herd will weigh heavy upon the shoulders of its sales professionals in a market where differentiation and value are king.
By Brian L’Heureux, Division Manager, Spartan Chemical Company