Selling for the Non-Sales Professional: The Value Proposition Part 1

This is the beginning of a series of posts designed to help people that don’t see themselves as sales people develop the tools to sell.

I don’t know about you, but if I can get someone to let me talk to them about my business, I believe strongly enough in it, that I can often transfer that belief to them. However, getting to the point where they will want to have a conversation takes a lot of work.  I recently heard a trainer say, “I would do the work free, people pay me for the aggravation of getting to the location”.  It is the same in selling.  I would do the sales presentation free, it is getting to the presentation that difficult.

Before we get to the point where we can make a sales presentation we have to get them interested enough to grant us the time whether it is for 15 minutes, 30 minutes or a series of meetings.  There are a number ways we can do that.  There is the advertising, cold calling, letter campaign’s, blogging, news articles, presentations or association events. Depending upon your business the best way is probably a combination of these methods.  Remember they are bombarded with messages. I spoke with one client that received 20 calls a day from sellers in my space. That was twenty calls a day. We have to find ways to stand out.

The first step is to create a value proposition.
–    Why are you in business?
–    Can you quantify the value through ROI or some other performance metric?
–    What problem do you solve?
–    What opportunity do you bring, for them to optimize their business?

These last two points are perhaps the best place to start. Buyers are looking for ways to grow their business and their profits. They do this by increasing revenue and controlling expenses. Where does your product or service fit?

For example the value proposition I brought to customers in my first selling job was, brand recognition and advertising dollars in addition to the quality of the product. You see I sold fiberglass insulation to distributors who in turn sold it lumberyards. The company I worked for Owens Corning Fiberglas® had a very fine product. And, they had several competitors that also had a very similar product. Where we were different and where we brought value was through brand recognition and advertising.

We had the rights to the Pink Panther® and our insulation was pink. We also sponsored a weekly home improvement show every week. The audience, contractors, builders and do it yourselfers, were seeing our ads regularly and as a result, we had a place in their minds. When we collaborated with distributors and dealers to provide advertising money or pink panthers, to give away we were able to help them draw customers into the store. Not just for insulation but also for other products and services. We helped them grow their revenues. I can remember more than once, as the “new sales guy” standing around in the lumberyard on a summer day in a Pink Panther® costume handing out stuffed panthers.

How do we determine the value proposition? Then, how do we communicate that proposition? I think we start with some questions. Why did I get into this business?  Many of us don’t know. I know I took a job in my current industry over two decades ago to have a job while I was looking for a real job. There are 6,000 competitors in my industry! Therefore, I have to find a way to stand out.

I wish I could tell you that there is a magic bullet but it requires some thinking and some exploration on your part. In general, I think there are three components to a value proposition:

1.    The problem you solve – I help hospitals turn problem Accounts receivable into cash
2.    The knowledge you bring to the equation – Over 20 years experience, 500 professionals and 120 attorneys
3.    You – Personal knowledge, process, likability, respect, industry participation, etc

Stay Tuned for Part 2 where we explore these components

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One Comment:

  1. Hi John,

    Interesting article because we are all, in some ways sales people. Some sell a product or service for a company. Others may sell themselves to help get a job, or even a date. Regardless, we all have something to sell and we all have to know what our “Value Proposition” really is. Without it there is nothing to distinguish us from anyone else.

    Thanks for posting this!

    Dave

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