In the recent MDM Webcast, Selling for Profit: Turbocharge Your Profit Growth through Market Development and Sales Management, Jonathan Byrnes, senior lecturer at MIT and author of “Islands of Profit in a Sea of Red Ink,” said companies must find a unique value proposition that provides the right value to the right customers at the right time instead of trying to be everything to everyone. Here’s a summary of the webcast, now available on-demand or on DVD at www.mdm.com/sellingforprofit.
Is your value proposition so strong that after trying your service three times, new customers will be hooked for life? Is it something that will have them viewing you as a partner rather than just another vendor?
Jonathan Byrnes, senior lecturer at MIT, posed these questions to attendees of the recent MDM Webcast, Selling for Profit: Turbocharge Your Profit Growth through Market Development and Sales Management. If you answered no, you might want to rethink your value proposition.
Turbocharging your profit growth begins with a change in mindset:
From addressing customer wants to meeting customer needs: If you’re simply responding to customer requests, you’re a vendor, Byrnes says. If you’re meeting needs they didn’t even know they had, you’re a partner for life.
From product focus to customer value focus: “A portfolio of great products does not equal a great value proposition.”
From broad market targeting to precision customer targeting: “You can’t be everything to everyone,” Byrnes says, “so make sure you’re providing the right thing at the right time for the right people.”
From short-term gains to lifecycle value management: Turbocharging profit growth involves long-term, sustainable growth, not a short-term spike in revenues, Byrnes says. Invest in your relationships and monitor ways you can help them improve their businesses. Be a partner.
From enhancing revenues to maximizing profitable growth and competitive differentiation: “Not all revenues are profitable,” Byrnes says. “Focus your resources where they will count.”
Having a “compelling value footprint” is a key element to creating sustainable high-profit growth. And you have to be able to show that to your customers, or they’re not going to buy it.
“Many distributors are very good at selling products,” Byrnes says. “They’re not so good at selling the process and the innovation.” But those elements should be a key part of your selling process, he says.
Define your value proposition and make it specific. For example, Amazon.com developed intricate tracking software to redefine its customers’ experience. It took the tracked buyer behavior and applied it across a linked product system to improve automated cross-selling. No one else had that same level of functionality.
In addition, don’t be afraid to dig deeper into your customers’ needs, extending your value proposition across their companies.
“Target your customer’s core business, not just a component of it,” Byrnes says. Nalco, a company that focuses on providing chemicals for water processing, created a system for monitoring usage so that it could better schedule deliveries based on needs. But it didn’t stop there. Nalco expanded the product’s application to improve customer efficiency through better monitoring.
Tap into the hidden reservoirs of expertise that every company has. The people with the best knowledge about the everyday workings of your customer may not be the salespeople or the account managers, Byrnes says.
For one distributor, “the best knowledge came from the truck drivers,” he said. They were the ones chatting with the customer’s employees on the loading docks and having real conversations with the customer. Those candid conversations can help you identify new opportunities.
Once you have defined your unique proposition, showcase it, Byrnes says. “You can’t move people without the evidence,” he says. “They want you to ‘show me.’” Demonstrate how your value proposition actually works – and specifically, how it is right for them. And if you’ve done that well, after that third experience, they won’t go shopping elsewhere.
A DVD of Byrnes’ Selling for Profit Webcast with MDM is available at mdm.com/sellingforprofit or call 888-742-5060.