In my previous posts I introduced my definition of a value proposition and the three tests it must meet to be successful. I discussed how we have figured out the first two and are working on substantiate now. The real world test of your value proposition is in deals however. So how are we doing with our sales execution and our value proposition?
I am going to describe a couple deals we have been actively engaged with, what our sales strategy has been and our value proposition for the specific clients. I will then compare the similar circumstances in both and how one deal worked and the other did not.
The moral of the story is that if you think you executed perfectly
and lost, then obviously, you did not execute perfectly.
Opportunity Overview: We have been working on a qualified deal with a major brand. They are a Fortune 500 and sell both B2C and B2B. I will refer to them as “Deal #1” in this post. Deal #1 has an active social media effort underway to leverage the social networks of their employees through the curation and distribution of content into social media destinations. They have recruited thousands of brand ambassadors.
Their current workflow is highly inefficient and expensive. They lack any ROI or analytics on their performance. They work in a tactical manner to keep the program moving forward with an assumption by executive management that there must be an ROI associated with the program. The way their process works is that they source content and offer it to employees in a central repository. The employees log in to the repository and seek content they determine they are comfortable posting. The employees are then required to cut & paste the content in their social media destination of choice – whether that be a timeline / newsfeed, a discussion group or on Twitter.
The employees then log in to the firm’s tracking system and manually report their post. There is no verification of the actual post or analytics to track any engagement that may occur. The employee is rewarded for their posts via a point system that allows them to buy merchandise with those points.
In summary, the firm has spent tens of millions of dollars developing thousands of employees to be social media managers, provides a very manual process for choosing content and posting that content, has no analytics or capability to track actual engagement or ROI.
Our strategy was to align with improving the productivity of the workflow; which would allow for greater volumes of content to flow directly to the employees (no login required), automated posting of the content so employees do not have to manually do it, and tracking of posts and engagement. In addition to our analytics across all their social media touch points, we would provide the client with the ability to track which visitors to their website were clicking through from which specific social media campaign. In summary, we would help the client:
- Secure better content in higher volumes
- Scale out bound content flows and social media impressions by more than 100X while maintaining brand compliance and corporate governance
- Significant productivity gains across the enterprise
- Track employee participation, all social engagement and ROI of social campaigns
We navigated the enterprise, found the key teams we needed to get to that were driving social media projects and presented to them. We customized our deck and demo. We offered a no cost 30-day trial. We managed to secure a verbal commitment for trial. We were ecstatic!! We had executed perfectly on Deal #1 and were about to get into a bake off we were confident we would win.
Three weeks after we had a verbal commitment we received a ‘Dear John’ email from Deal #1. No explanation, nothing… just an email that we were eliminated from the process. We reached out multiple times to secure a ‘debrief’, even escalated our attempts for a debrief. No response.
This not only happened in Deal #1, it happened with another very similar deal – Deal #2. How is this possible we asked ourselves. We planned everything, did terrific demos and got to the right people in the enterprise. We executed perfectly. How did we lose this deal?
Let’s break it down.
In both deals, our value proposition was practically the same. We planned each effort, we blue printed the accounts, understood the org charts, decision criteria etc. Both accounts said they were impressed with our presentations and both gave us a “verbal” that they wanted to trial our product. We then got eliminated from both deals. We did however, manage to get Deal #2 to let us back in.
What was different between the two deals? One key difference was the fact that our attempts to secure an executive sponsor in Deal #2 were successful. When we got eliminated, we reached out to our executive sponsor and got back in.
In Deal #2 the sales process had us meet with a senior exec who passed us down to a VP that passed us to the Director that passed us to the Manager in charge of social media. The social media manager loved us. When that person went to escalate their recommendation, the Director did not know our value proposition and rejected us without review. Fortunately, we were able to reach out to our executive sponsor and restart the process with the Director.
Turns out, we were eliminated from Deal #2 because we had not gotten to the gatekeeper yet. That gatekeeper was then instructed to work with us. We are now moving forward with a pilot in Deal #2.
In Deal #1, we still do not have an explanation. There are only a couple plausible explanations. First, we did not execute perfectly – we failed to secure executive access. In hindsight, we should have negotiated access as part of the process. If we were not granted that access, we had to be prepared to walk away. We spent a lot of time working on this deal and lost it because we were too anxious to pitch our solution. As a sales leader, I am certain I would shake my head at a senior sales guy that failed to secure executive access in a deal that was going to require this much work. All I can do now is shake my head… at myself.
We had absolute confidence in our value to the client. What we neglected in our selling process was to negotiate access to executive power and address our ability to “substantiate” our claims. The likely explanation is that both elements contributed to our elimination in Deal #1.
The lack of executive access means we may never know.
Today’s Recommendation: “Executive Conversation” sales training program.
My Ask of you: Tell me your favorite tactic for securing executive access.
Would like to thank Rain Group for their incredibly valuable insights that I used to develop many of my posts. http://www.rainsalestraining.com/blog/how-to-use-a-value-proposition/.