I recently made what I hope was a compelling case for creating a customer-specific unique value story for every significant customer opportunity.
I now want to turn my attention to a critical complement to every such value story: making explicit connections between collective organisational and customised stakeholder value.
This involves creating an “umbrella” value story that explains why it is in the organisation’s interest to act and aligning this overall story with more tailored value stories for each of the key interested parties.
In this way, we can clearly articulate “what’s in it for you?” for the whole organisation, for key functions and for key stakeholders – and establish the essential connections between them.
Let me first remind you of the three key questions that underpin each customer’s unique value story:
- Why do they need to change at all, rather than stick with the status quo?
- Why should they choose you, rather than any of their other options?
- Why do they need to act now, rather than later?
The “why should they choose you” layer incorporates the unique advantages you offer to their organisation as a whole, to key functions or departments, and to key members of the stakeholder community, but it’s often worth expanding on this section.
Having clear and validated stories in these areas will significantly strengthen your proposal and your chances of winning their business.
This often ends up being something of an iterative process. It’s best to start by seeking to establish, articulate and test the key value and benefits to the department that will most benefit from your solution to their current business challenge (often the one championing the project).
Your thoughts should then turn upwards to the high-level value and benefits of your approach and your solution to the organisation as a whole.
You can then turn your attention sideways to the specific value and benefits of your solution and approach to the other key functional departments. At minimum, these functions will typically include Finance, IT and procurement, as well as other involved or affected functions.
If there are other key stakeholders not covered by the above, these must also be woven into the fabric of your story.
Rather than a collection of isolated individual reasons to buy, these must be connected, with the organisation-wide story acting as the umbrella or the hub for the remaining stories.
The power of contrast
One of the best ways of dramatising each story is to contrast “a day in the life” before and after the successful implementation of your solution.
The first relates to their current situation – or more powerfully, where they will end up if they continue on their current path. The latter relates to the better future outcomes they will achieve if they implement your recommendations.
The stronger the credible contrast between these extremes for each of the organisational, departmental and individual stakeholders, the stronger the case for change and the more likely your project will be accepted.
If you’re only appealing to one of these constituencies and fail to align them all behind a common cause, your chances of winning will be very much diminished.
That’s how you can systematically create stronger collective customer value by also paying attention to customised stakeholder value! By the way, here’s the original article…