With relatively few exceptions, most companies want to be seen to be focused on value, rather than price. You can understand why: in most markets there is only space for one or at most a very few “cost leaders”.
Many of these value factors can be expressed logically – and most investment cases require a rational justification – but many of them have an emotional dimension as well, and this can have a significant impact on decision-making.
Not value-added, but value-aligned
I think it’s time to ditch the “value-added” mindset – at least when it comes to its current most common use in justifying unnecessary solution complexity – and think instead about being value-aligned.
This, of course, requires that we deeply understand what our customers and the key stakeholders that drive their decisions regard as being truly valuable. And it requires that we understand and help to expose the costs, risks and limitations associated with their current situation.
It requires that we selectively align the most valuable aspects of our purpose, approach and capabilities with the things that our customer – individually and collectively – regards as being most valuable to them.
Valuing your proposals
If you’re at all concerned about whether your sales organisation is as effective as it could be in communicating genuine value, you need look no further than a cross-section of your latest sales proposals.
Do they all clearly articulate what the prospect has agreed are the inevitable costs and risks of inaction, were they to decide to stick with the status quo? And do they clearly and credibly articulate how the prospect has agreed that your proposed solution will enable them to reduce cost, increase revenue, eliminate risk and enable them to achieve their goals?
If not, both your proposal and the customer’s project are at risk. Maybe the proposed project is genuinely of little value, in which case you should have qualified out far earlier. Or maybe the value of the project is being undersold, in which case you run the risk of losing (to no decision, or a smarter competitor) an opportunity you should have won.
And all because your sales people failed to align the business value of what they were offering with the critical business needs and priorities of the customer. I can’t think of a better reason to get focused on the only value that matters – the things that your customer finds most valuable.