Business owners want their companies to succeed. While success is defined differently depending on whom you talk to, the most common goals center on growth, profitability and strategic operation.
If you can help clients achieve their core goals, you’ll acquire a bigger list of satisfied, long-term customers. This is not rocket science. So why are some B2B providers not yet getting it?
Far too many leaders are sending the wrong messages to prospective and existing customers. Business expert Stephen King talks about the four questions every B2B leadership team should ask about their business development approach.
1. Are Features Getting in the Way of Your Benefits?
“Too many value propositions start and end with features only,” warns King. “An effective explanation of the value you offer must include the benefits.” Businesses are laser-focused on outcomes (AKA, benefits), and don’t care much about features.
King continues, “For example, if we talk to our clients about the ‘most comprehensive back-office accounting services known to man,’ they yawn. But when we let them know they could redeploy two or three full-time employees elsewhere in their company, they are suddenly interested in learning more.”
One easy way to translate a feature into a benefit is to state the benefit, then add the words, “Which means that [blank].” You will find that the blank will naturally be filled in with the benefit.
2. How Compelling is Your ROI?
Once you gain a prospect’s attention by talking about profitable outcomes, how do you close the deal? By making an ironclad case for a financial return. If you can save the client money, show the math. If you can increase revenue, prove it. This is where case studies and client testimonials come in.
"Of course, the cost of your solution must be less than the promised benefit,” advises King. “If our accounting services were more expensive than the benefits they created, we would have very short and fruitless conversations with prospects.”
According to King, pricing is a huge consideration for your clients and your company. Is your price based on gut feel, or is it calculated commensurate with the value you create? The pricing equation must work for both parties, or the relationship will not be sustainable.
3. Are You Innovating, or Just Following Industry Tradition?
Too many leaders, having come up through the ranks inside of a given industry, are products of the way things have always been done. Tradition can be a blessing and a curse, and with the current fast pace of change, too many well-established practices are becoming detrimental. “In our industry, accountants have traditionally provided tax and audit services, meaning they are score keepers after the game (tax year) has ended. What our clients really want, however, is for us to get on the field with them and help them score more points during the game,” says King.
The very definition of innovation is to break with tradition. But that break has to lead to something disruptive to your competition, and beneficial for your clients.
4. Are You on the Same Side of the Table with Your Clients?
This is where partnering and consultative selling come in. Think of the physical arrangement of the room where you present your sales pitch to a prospect. Most often, you probably sit across a desk or table from said prospect as you present. How would the dynamics of the relationship change if you physically moved to the same side of the table, and began working on business solutions elbow to elbow with your prospect? This is what you must do metaphorically as soon in the sales process as possible.
“When the client’s problems become our problems, the relationship quickly changes from provider/buyer to partner. That’s the power of focusing on a mutual goal, which is the creation of business value as defined by the client,” notes King.
How would your executive team answer these four questions? Will the answers help your client companies run better, grow faster and make more money?
By Larry Myler