Are you keeping your most valuable business asset a secret? You might not even be aware of what this secret is. We all work very hard every day to develop this crucial asset, and yet we keep it to ourselves. What is this secret? It is your Business Value Message. By identifying it and spreading the word you can propel your business toward success.
Your Business Value Message is everything you do in your business that adds value to it. It’s your service, your attention to details, the extras you add that separate your business from the competition. Yet, we do not make a conscious effort to demonstrate our Business Value Messages to our leads, prospects and clients. How do we start doing this? It begins by asking the following questions:
• What does your business bring to the marketplace beyond the basic industry core competencies?
• What’s unique about your business?
• How will you communicate this?
Getting Past the Pain of Change
Before we get into addressing these questions, let’s try to understand why someone might buy from you. There are several concepts that are key to understanding the mind of your prospect.
For your prospect to agree to buy from you, she must go through what is called: The Pain of Change. This is a measurement of the prospect’s feelings and experiences associated with doing something such as decorating.
You need to relate this to the Consequences of Not Changing. These are the losses prospects incur by not doing business with you. Perhaps it is the emotional letdown of not using your decorating skills.
When leads first become aware of your business, they believe they are doing fine without you. They also believe there are no consequences for not doing business with you. If this is true, then you have only leads, not prospects.
In order to begin the selling process, you must introduce the concept that there are, indeed, consequences associated with not doing business with your company. If there are no consequences, there is little chance of making a sale. It is up to you to educate your prospects about the dire consequences of not doing business with you. You do this by asking questions to raise this awareness.
Before we get into asking these questions, let’s think about your typical prospects. What would be the potential pain or risk if they were to do business with you? This is what was referred to before as The Pain of Change. The prospect usually communicates this Pain of Change by raising objections. Here are some examples:
• It’s too expensive!
• I might make poor decisions.
• I could end up with poor quality workmanship.
• I am afraid to do custom work.
• I am not convinced of your decorating ability.
• I don’t trust you.
It is up to your Business Value Message to answer these concerns. Your prospects will work hard to convince you that you do not have a Business Value Message, so they can base their buying decisions solely on price. If you can’t defend your Business Value Message then you run the risk of being judged as a commodity. It is urgent that you communicate your Business Value Message so you can separate your business from the competition.
There are certain core competencies that every competitor brings to the market. These competencies are things all competitors do, and are essential to be taken seriously in the marketplace.
However, if you choose to compete based upon only the core competencies that everyone else has, you ensure your business will be considered a commodity. If you only want to discuss things like product quality and price, you will be evaluated solely upon the investment required to buy what you are offering. Your uniqueness—what separates you from the competition—most likely will be ignored.
The concept of the Business Value Message is that you must bring something unique to the marketplace so you can convince your prospects to go through The Pain of Change and buy from you.
Let’s try an exercise. List three strengths or unique features of your business offering. These will be areas that you feel separate you from the competition. I will give an example from my window covering business, Decorating with Fabric:
1. In-house workroom
2. Great showroom
3. Talented design team
Each of these strengths has a corresponding consequence that the prospect might experience by not doing business with my company.
In-house workroom: By working with another company that does not have an in-house workroom my prospect may deal with a business that lacks quality control and has higher prices because of a middleman.
Great showroom: If my prospect buys from a business with no showroom they will not be able to view, touch, try actual examples of the work.
Talented design team: Without a talented design team, my prospect could end up disappointed with the end results and not have treatments they can show off.
It is important how you communicate these consequences to prospects. Try to make the consequences emotionally based. Here are the above consequences presented as real emotionally based consequences for not doing business with my company:
• A lack of quality control and higher prices results in poorly done treatments that the consumer pays for and is stuck with.
• No ability to view actual examples of work results in not being able to picture the custom window treatment ahead of time, and ending up disappointed because of not meeting expectations.
• Not having treatments that can be shown off results in not meeting the emotional expectations of the client.
The Business Value Message is called a message for a reason: it must be communicated. It does you no good to keep it a secret. The message also needs to be shared in a way that is subtly mixed into your selling system. Make it obvious, but not over the top.
Neil Gordon is the founder of The WCU Online and The Designer’s Coach. He also owns Decorating with Fabric, a window coverings business and workroom in New York. Gordon is the national director of design for Exciting Windows! and serves on the board of directors for the Interior Design Society. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org His websites are: www.thedesignerscoach.com; www.thewcu.com; www.decoratingwithfabric.com; www.dwfcontract.com; www.draperyinstallers.com.