Everyone has been involved in sales and marketing at some point or another… whether you’ve had to promote yourself during a job application or an interview, share an idea during a team meeting, or more directly, sell a product or service in the direct sales arena. These examples are different in context, but they all contain elements of marketing and sales. Irrespective of the context, whether your ‘sell’ is written or verbal, the aim is to persuade action in your favour, and what really sets sales efforts apart, is not just highlighting the features and benefits of the product, but the experience you offer.
You may find that on a small scale, it’s easy to list features and benefits; but to truly do this in a way that connects with the person you’re selling to, (whom I’ll refer to as the client for the rest of this article), your pitch will have to be complete in a way that it understands your client’s problem, formulates a solution, and explains to them how and to what extent your offer solves this problem, whilst offering a great client experience through the sales process.
Through your explanation of features and benefits, they should be able to imagine the value, and feel the result. The solution you offer should reflect its value in price, in terms of the cost, versus the benefit of what you offer. Now this does not mean that your product or service has to be cheap, but what it does mean, is that if it comes with a hefty price-tag, then through your sell, your client should be left with a feeling that even at the price you’ve set, they gain more in value and benefit of having what you are offering, than the money they are spending on it ‘is worth’. You would have heard the phrases- ‘I got more than my money’s worth,’ or ‘you can’t put a price on that,’ and this is what you should be aiming for through the sell, and the experience you create for your customer, rather than ‘you get what you pay for,’ when clients get products or services cheaply and are left wanting in terms of value and customer experience.
So, how is it that you go about creating a great value proposition which in effect is what sells your product or service?
1) Understand your client’s needs
As mentioned previously, you need to understand your customer’s needs. This is essential and if you don’t understand this, then your value proposition risks being totally off the mark. Take the time to get to grips with this. If you don’t have the time to do customer surveys then a handy shortcut is to read related articles, blogs and forums which give you a quick way of assessing the customer experience in the market as well as what their needs are.
2) Be honest about your offer
You need to take an honest look at what it is that you are offering. Consider which needs it meets, the unique selling proposition, which includes how it meets the need of the client, and why you believe that it does. If you’re looking at the how and the why, and the thought has crossed your mind that these are actually the same… please do take a moment to think again. A quick hint- the how, involves the features, whereas the why (you believe it meets the need), involves the benefits and how the client is left feeling after using your product or service, and in essence, is the result.
3) Connect with your client
Lastly, you have to think about the best way of connecting with your client in order to explain how and why you believe that your product or service meets their needs. Be sure to think of the client and customize and direct your communications toward them. Ensure that the focus is on them, and not you. Address the problem, offer solutions and benefits and support with evidence. Use images or videos which reinforce the intended message, and remember that underlying emotion drives sales, so think about the emotion that your words, videos and images evoke, and how this reinforces your messages around features and benefits.
I understand that this may seem overly simplified, but I urge you to take the time to think it through. While each step can be broken down into numerous others, the three points above, really form the core of great sales proposals and can be used to inform these, as well as all your marketing efforts. By bearing these three points in mind, you won’t have to be a sales or marketing expert to be able to create effective sales proposals and marketing content.
(c) 2015, Noleen Mariapppen
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