“Value” is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “relative worth, utility, or importance”.
Value during a recession often becomes clouded and harder to identify. Yet many sales and marketing teams during this economic position still utilize standard methods of vendor communication by talking about their firm’s value and how great they are. This generalist approach places salespeople in a defensive position with prospects about why they should buy from them,especially when funding is tight.
To sell more in a recession, you must have a premeditated value program. Companies need to have their value out in front before the sales cycle begins to make it easier to sell.
Most marketing programs use a passive communication model of “here it is, this is what we do”. This process over the long haul just wastes money and valuable selling time.
To sell more, you need to use “experiential marketing” techniques to help the sales team get inbound qualified leads where prospects see your business value BEFORE the sales team tries to sell them.
If a prospect “experientially” experiences your business value before the sales team talks with them, the result is competitors are eliminated, the sales cycle is shortened, and a profitable gross margin is maintained.
When a prospect approaches your firm after having experienced your business value prior to the first sale, your sales team can then spend most of their time personalizing how they will help the prospect use your product or service as a business tool, instead of spending a disproportionate amount of time in the sales cycle cold calling.
So should you advertise more?
Advertising is a passive medium and does not educate prospects on your value. It is a means to express why “you think” you have value. Prospects must confirm you have value based on their own internal metrics which cannot be done through ads in magazine, TV or direct mail.
In fact, most advertising is focused on projecting what the advertiser wants the prospect to “see”. But at the end of the day, the prospect does not care about anything except their personal business needs.
So how do you create a “value forward” approach to your sales?
Instead of talking about how great you are, show prospects your product or service value by giving them business content for FREE up-front which will induce them into a sales action step to call you. We call this the Value Forward 5% Marketing Rule. Give 5% away to prospects to get them to pay retail for the remaining 95% and you and I make up what retail is.
Marketing tools like webinars, teleseminars, newsletters and workshops are the key to communicating your value first to generate qualified leads. These marketing devices allow your prospects to learn about your value through their own filtering and judgment process and if done correctly, they will call you and say “I am interested.”
Take the following Value Forward Test to see if you pull your value behind you.
Value Forward Test
- When explaining your sales value proposition to prospects, do you sound like everyone else?
- When you present your offering to prospects, do they expect you to drop your price to match your competitors?
- Do prospects see you as a peer and provider rather than a vendor and a predator?
- When you explain your product or service, can the prospect visualize the difference between your company and your competitors?
- Every time you meet or chat with a new prospect, do they say they have not heard about your company?
- Are most of your qualified leads generated from cold calling?
- Does your marketing generate at least 3 qualified leads per salesperson each month?
- Has your sales cycle timeline increased by at least 25% during the last two years?
- When you meet with a management prospect, do you have a lot of competitors?
- Does your marketing budget allocate more money for brochures and tradeshows than engagement devices like newsletters, webinars and teleseminars?
80% and Above
Your value is well defined and during a recession your business revenue capture program should hold up well and allow you to grow your business regardless of the economic environment you are exposed to.
50% to 70%
If you score in this zone, your business value is confusing to targeted prospects and your sales and marketing operating costs may increase and be less effective during the recession. You need to create more in-depth communication on why prospects should buy from you and how you are different.
40% and Below
Your value is buried deep inside your company, it will be difficult to grow your business during a recession.
So, stop saying how great you are and start proving it before the sales cycle begins — and you will sell a lot more!