Posted tagged ‘Value Proposition’

The Final Steps: Begin the Cold Calling Campaign, Modify as Needed and Track Results

August 15, 2010

Everything that has been done until now has been designed to prepare you to begin the cold calling campaign. When you actually start the campaign, you test your assumptions, validate what you thought to be true and make modifications when appropriate.

Your first calls should not be to your primary targets. This is because if your assumptions are wrong, you do not want to be risking the targets that you believe will be most attracted to offer. By aiming at targets slightly lower than the primary ones, you allow yourself the opportunity to recognize and address areas where you may have erred. You will be looking to validate what role is the appropriate one to contact, the benefits that you believe are most important to articulate and the solution set that you should be articulating.

You will also learn a lot about your prospects. They will ask you questions and, frequently, you will not know the answers. This process affords you the opportunity to learn about what matters to the prospect. Some of these areas will need to make it into your script and into your supporting materials. Don’t hesitate to modify them.

The second most important benefit of beginning the cold-calling campaign is that you will begin to get your “voice.” Confidence is such an important part of successfully speaking with prospects. Like anything else, it needs to be nurtured and developed. After making twenty or so calls, you will discover what truly resonates, your prospects’ concerns and what creates an impact.  And you will discover that you can speak with them and create a meaningful dialogue.

The only way that I have discovered to gain this confidence is by making the calls, testing modifications and, frankly, taking intelligent risks and making reasonable mistakes. Allow yourself the possibility of failing because it is only as a result of these failures that you will attain success.

Finally, make sure that you are tracking each call. Thee are many, many contact software programs that will allow you to do this easily (Act!, Salesforce, Goldmine are some examples of contact managers). Chart each call and its outcome and note a time to reach out to the prospect once again.

I hope that you have enjoyed these reflections on the cold calling process. If you’ve been testing this process, please write with your comments. I’d love to share ways to make it better and also learn what you have discovered.

Cold Calling Step 7: Build Engaging Supporting Materials

August 4, 2010

One of the final elements of the cold calling preparation process is to make sure that you have meaningful and stimulating supporting materials for those times when the prospect does not have the time to speak with you and asks you to send “something.”

This too is a great opportunity.

Since we all learn differently, it is certainly reasonable to expect that some people prefer the written word. A focused, compelling and clear presentation is the chance for you to make an impression without being interrupted.

And having the shell of it prepared in advance, allows you to respond quickly while the call is still very much present in the mind of your prospect.

My supporting e-mail has a handful of core elements:

  • An acknowledgment of thanks for the opportunity to write to the person
  • The Value Proposition or to put it another way, “why you should read this e-mail”
  • An overview of our company (what we do and how we deliver)
  • Any validation that we deliver what we say we do. Sometimes, this means listing some recognizable customers or awards from prestigious organizations.
  • An overview of what the prospect can expect to find in the attachments. This usually translates into key features that might resonate with the prospect.
  • The next steps (when follow up is planned)

I always include my phone number.

And I always try to address my prospect by name in the body of the e-mail and mention their company too. As Guy Kawasaki says, “Though it may seem obvious, you would be surprised how much of a difference addressing a customer by name can make. Good customer service (ed. note: and sales) makes the other person feel as if she is the only customer or client that matters.”

When it comes to PowerPoint presentations, I try to create an interesting story centered on all of the items present in a script, only with more graphics, color and detail. I use very little text and try to connect the thoughts for them.

Remember, that every thing that you are sending impacts two brands – your company’s and yours. Details matter, particularly at this stage, if you wish to become not only irreplaceable, but also irresistible.

The Five Tests of a Sound Strategy

September 24, 2008

Assuming that we know “what we want to be,” that is, we now have a vision in place, we can begin to immerse ourselves in deciding the best path toward reaching our destination.

Yes, we are finally ready to formalize our business strategy.

Strategy is defined based upon (1) the industry and your position within the industry as well as (2) your position relative to your competitors’ position.

Most people think of strategy as optimizing what they already do and being the best at it, leading them to conclude that there is one, best way to compete. Strategy is really about choosing to differentiate one’s product / services from one’s competitors.

Failing to differentiate one’s products / services from those of one’s competitors – meaning the consumer can’t decide which product is better — creates destructive competition in which the only distinction is price. Price competition is never sustainable and is unwinnable.

Competing effectively means that a company is

  • Exceeding the Industry Average Return
  • Creating a return greater than those of most or all of your competitors

To win, you either have to have a higher price (justified by a differentiation of product / service) or a lower cost (justified by a more efficient value chain). You need to operate from the industry cost vs. your cost and the industry price vs. your price. Regardless, you have to be profitable. After all, you can’t have an army without feeding it…and you can’t have a business without being able to sustain it.

Five Tests of a Sound Strategy

There are five tests of a sound strategy

1.      A unique value proposition compared to competitors

2.      A different, tailored value chain

3.      Clear tradeoffs, and choosing what NOT to do

4.      Activities that fit together and reinforce each other

5.      Strategic continuity (having the strategy permeate throughout the organization)

Defining the Value Proposition

Defining the value proposition means identifying the end users and the channels used to sell to them; understanding the end user’s needs and which products, features, and services will address them; and creating a profitable price at which they will buy. We have already discussed how we can learn more about what our customers are really buying.

According to UCLA Anderson’s School of Management Professor Richard Rummelt, there are two ways to get to a successful value proposition. One, you can invent your way to success. Unfortunately, you can’t count on that. The second path is to exploit some change in your environment – in technology, consumer tastes, laws, resource prices, or competitive behavior – and ride that change with quickness and skill. The key is to take a position while there is uncertainty and ambiguity. Clarity occurs only after a company takes a position. However, by choosing to let another take a position, one loses the opportunity to profit from the knowledge.

The second path is how most successful companies develop their plan. Changes do not come along in nice annual packages, so the need for strategy is episodic, not necessarily annual.

Sustaining Competitive Position – The Role of Tradeoffs

  • Choosing a unique position is necessary but not sufficient to create a sustainable advantage because of the threat of imitation
  • Traditional thinking focuses on competitors’ difficulty or ability to imitate
  • Equally, if not more important, is whether competitors want to imitate
  • Tradeoffs are incompatibilities between strategic positions that create the need for choice
  • Strategic tradeoffs lie at the heart of sustainability
  • An essential part of strategy is choosing what not to do

The takeaway is that as business leaders, we want to encourage choice. In fact, we want to our offering to appeal to our target consumers. We want the service / product to contain exactly what they would like and not have more features than are required, even if they are additional to what the consumer wants. Additional and unnecessary features only drive up our costs and reduce profitability.

In the next post, we’ll talk about companies who employed this approach to great success.


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