Interview by John Smibert
Because Tony Bonanno is a specialist in the use of value propositions to open doors and close sales I asked him why it is important and how can we get it right.
He emphasised that winning salespeople do everything in their power to ensure they have a laser targeted value statement tailored to the specific customer before they approach them.
He gives advice on how to achieve this – and talks about how to tailor that value proposition through the life of the sale. See the full interview below to learn how.
Tony Bonnano is a thought leader in sales management, sales growth and behavioural change
John: I’ve got with me today Tony Bonanno. Tony is a thought leader in sales management, sales growth and behavioural change – welcome, Tony!
Tony: Thanks, John!
John: Hey Tony, I wanted to start off by talking about value propositions. I know it’s a key subject of yours, and you’re very keen that salespeople understand the importance of it. Can you tell me about why you think that, and what you mean by value proposition, what context?
Tony: Sure. Great question, John – thank you! Organisations tend to develop value propositions from the perspective of putting pitches together, and in translating what happens from a pitch to an actual deal that value proposition may change radically along the way.
John: It does, doesn’t it? I’ve seen that a lot!
John: I go in with a particular value proposition, I’m thinking I’m hitting the mark – and by the time it’s finished it’s totally different.
Tony: So, imagine if a salesperson could do the right level of research in the right way so that they could even put a value proposition or a message into their approach that was more in tune with what the customer wanted to hear.
John: You’d get their attention pretty quickly, wouldn’t you?
Tony: Very quickly indeed.
John: Yes, so that’s what you’re talking about. How do you go about that? What are the important aspects of building a good value proposition right from the approach?
Tony: Yes. It’s to do with research, and that research can be anything from as simple as a Google News and staying on top of what’s going on for your prospective customer, to engaging with different people who can let you know what’s going on. When it comes to the point of being able to have a conversation with key people who will ultimately be making decisions that could be in your favour, you can then craft a positioning approach, which includes value and what traditionally we would call a value proposition, that is laser targeted to what that particular customer wants to hear.
John: I hear what you say, but we’re talking about the approach. You’re not going to always get it right, are you?
Tony: No, of course not.
John: Because by the time—you know, this is before you’ve done your detail discovery, isn’t it?
John: So, when you go through your discovery you’re likely to learn a lot more that might change your value proposition.
Tony: And it certainly should, so that you’ve got a value proposition that is one that will capture the attention of your prospective customer, and you might end up having a value proposition which nails the deal.
John: Okay. But the important thing, from what I’m hearing, is that right at the beginning when you first approach the customer you need to have done your research so you have a laser targeted value proposition that hits the mark.
John: Otherwise you’re not going to get past first base.
Tony: That’s right.
John: And the other thing I hear a lot is people using their company standard value proposition… You’re probably not going to hit your mark.
Tony: I can tell you now, I know – and have known for many, many years – organisations and sales managers and business leaders who have their salespeople rehearse and drill and rehearse and drill and rehearse so they get that value proposition off perfect – the 90-second elevator pitch.
John: But it’s not tailored to their specific customer or the specific opportunity.
Tony: It’s not tailored. Why would I trapped in an elevator with the salesperson pay attention to them, if they’re not paying attention to me?
John: Great point, Tony, and I think you’ve nailed the whole story. So, it’s getting something that really is focused on the customer here and now as to what their business needs are, and get the value proposition. Even if you’re not quite right in the approach, you’ll at least get the attention.
Tony: If you don’t get a ticket to the dance, you don’t get to dance!
John: I love it, Tony – look forward to talking next time!
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