Special Report: \$4.99

How To Make Your Proposition:

10 Times More Powerful!

Being heard over the competition in a crowded marketplace takes a special type of message. This white paper presents research on why some seller messages get heard, while most others don't. It shows you how you can make your proposition up to 10 times more powerful.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;10 times more powerful propositions by monetizing and validating them!â&#x20AC;?

Analyzing Your Benefits â&#x2C6;&#x2019; A Practical Assessment We wanted to understand the state of health of the modern sales proposition. So we asked approx. 200 sales people to list the top 5 benefits of their products, or solutions. Then using a clever yet simple formula we tested their appeal to today's more demanding buyers. We asked these 200 sales people to list their benefits. They readily obliged. Keeping the list to the Top 5 was a bit of a challenge as the temptation to add a sixth, or seventh to the list was great. But, how powerful were the benefits listed? Well, the overall results were somewhat disappointing. Most of the benefits listed failed critical strength and credibility tests. That is because while listing benefits is easy, quantifying and validating them was not.

Test The Strength Of Your Benefits The strength of a benefit is measured in terms of its impact, or appeal. A strong benefit grabs the prospect's attention. It is heard over the noise and is likely to be remembered. How to measure the strength of a benefit? Well, as the table shows it is pretty straight-forward:

Benefit Strength

How It Is Communicated?

Weak

Verbalized

It is expressed in adjectives (e.g. delivers major savings).

Medium

Quantified

It is expressed with numbers, or percentages (e.g. 3 times faster).

Strong

Monetized

It is expressed in the dollars, euro and pounds (e.g. cuts costs from 26c to 2c per tonne).

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The key point is a proposition with numbers is much more powerful than one with just words. However, if our sample is anything to go by 3 out of 5 benefits contain no numbers, just words. That means they can be classified as 'weak'. That is not to say that an un-measured (or un-measurable) benefit does not have any value. It may well have, but it does have less value particularly to the business managers and 'bean-counters' who control spending.

IDEAS: Making It Work For You

Make your message compelling by capturing a before & after measure of how your customers benefit from your product/service.

Why 'Verbal Benefits' Are Weak There are many reasons why 'verbal benefits' are weak: There is a great sameness when it comes to the language used by most companies. Indeed, 'the so-called competing suppliers were almost indistinguishable – it is like the same person wrote most of the websites and brochures' commented one buyer after completing a market analysis. One problem is that adjectives are used to describe things that are not necessarily important to the buyer – such as 'patented', 'proprietary', or 'award-winning'. This is an example of the focus on narrowly defined competitive advantages that describe the supplier and his or her solution rather than the benefits that will accrue to the buyer from their use.

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“A quantified benefit has a higher chance of grabbing the buyer's attention.”

Even if the benefits attempt to describe the results the buyer will achieve they can be immediately nullified by the use of terms such as 'major savings', 'significant reduction', or 'dramatic increase'. For the buyer such language hints that you don't really know, or are afraid to publish the actual numbers. When a benefit is quantified it has a much higher chance of grabbing the buyer's attention. So it makes sense to put the number right up there in the headline. Whether the reader believes the number or not is a separate matter, but you have got their attention. Any quantifiable measurement of the benefit (e.g. a 25% increase) is better than none. However, the most effective way to communicate a benefit is to monetize it. That is to express it in Euros, Dollars, or Pounds money. That means expressing your solution in terms of how it will impact on the buyer's bottom line.

IDEAS: Making It Work For You

You have probably noticed how buyers have an annoying habit of reading the last page of your proposal first. However, the price page is often the only place that there are numbers to be found. Our advice is to write the last page first, bringing the monetary benefits of your solution right up front.

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The Hierarchy Of Quantifiable Benefits Quantifying benefits makes them much stronger. But, there are many dimensions of a product or service that can be quantified. Some are inherently more interesting or important to buyers than others. They are ranked from highest to lowest below: 1. Business Impact/Results – these directly communicate the results the buyer will achieve (e.g. cuts costs by \$250.000). To be compelling as compelling as possible a 'before & after' comparison is communicated. 2. General Benefits – this is typically the advantages of buying the product (e.g. cuts time to market by 25%) in a form of a long list that can go from the general to the specific. 3. Competitive advantages – these communicate more what the supplier considers to be points of differentiation over competitors (e.g. fastest solution on the market). 4. Features – these tell about the product and how it works, rather than the benefits to the customer (e.g. 3 times greater screen resolution).

IDEAS: Making It Work For You

There are two sides of the brain, the right hand side deals with pictures and emotions and the left hand side deals with numbers and facts. Look at your benefits list – and see what side of the brain they appeal to. Are you appealing to only half the buyer's brain? List the parts of your proposition that appeal to the buyer's left (logic, numbers, details, etc.) and right (emotional, pictures, emotions, etc) side of the brain.

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Struggling To Quantify Your Benefits? Here are some tips on strengthening your proposition.  If it cannot be quantified directly then: o Find the associated, or proxy variable that can be measured. o Go back and re-define it so that it can. For example define improved customer satisfaction in terms of % increase in number of customers who say they are 'satisfied', or 'very satisfied' in the annual customer survey.  If you don't have numbers use industry averages, published statistic, or simply rules of thumb.  Present your quantifiable benefits in terms of a before and after – that is contrasting the situation before and after your product/solution is used.  State the assumptions underlying any 'quantifiables' clearly and allow buyers the prospect of calculating their own benefits.  Inevitably some benefits cannot be quantified. If this is the case emotionalize them instead (e.g. by using more powerful/emotive language). IDEAS: Making It Work For You

Replace those adjectives that dominate the marketing vocabulary, such as 'industry-leading', 'superior', 'user-friendly', 'significant savings', etc. with quantifiable statements as to how the buyer will benefit.

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The 2nd Dimension Of Proposition Power: Credibility The strength of your proposition is one key dimension of its power. But a strong benefit is of little value unless it is believed. Credibility is therefore the second dimension upon which we measure the power, or effectiveness of a proposition. There are many factors that determine just how believable your message is. However, the credibility of what is said depends on who says it. That is whether:  You say it  An experts says it  Customers themselves say it. How to measure the credibility of a benefit, or proposition? Again it is pretty straight-forward, as the table shows: Benefit Credibility

Who Communicates It

Weak

You say it.

The claims are made by your marketing and you expect customers to take you at your word.

Medium

An experts, or other authority says it.

Your claims are backed up/endorsed by an expert, or recognized authority (e.g. certification body).

Strong

Your customers say it.

Your customers relate their own direct experience of your company either in quotes, references, or case studies.

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“A strong benefit is of little value unless it is believed...”

Most buyers don't take vendor claims too seriously. They have heard it all before – the promises, pitches and proposals – and have learned to be cynical of vendor self-praise. They would rather hear what you customers have to say – it is a lot more credible and indeed relevant.

IDEAS: Making It Work For You

Want to stop your marketing brochures going into the bin? Well, write them in the form of customer case studies instead. Let your customers do the bragging for you.

The words of your customers are much more powerful than all of your marketing. Just how powerful depends on a number of factors:  Whether the customer is a peer, or somebody that they can relate to, or aspire to given factors, such as; size, profile, industry sector, markets served, etc.  Whether it is attributed, or anecdotal in nature. This depends on whether the customer is named, or unnamed. The first is obviously the most important but it is not always possible.  The medium used, for example a case study telling the story of their success and the role your product/solution played. Or it might be just a quotation from the customer.

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IDEAS: Making It Work For You

It is hard for the buyer in a large bank to get excited about what a customer in the engineering sector has to say. With this in mind tailor the customer examples, references and case studies you use according to the market, or segment you are targeting.

Maximizing Your Proposition's Power Here is a tool to measure, or forecast the effectiveness of your proposition, or benefits message. It is in the form of a table showing the strength of the messages in columns and credibility in rows. Before calculating the effectiveness of your proposition, here are two key points to be gleaned from the table: Taking both strength and credibility into account a sales message, or proposition can be communicated in 9 different ways. That means there are 9 different possible levels of success. All our research suggests that a benefit statement that has quantification and customer validation is ten times more powerful that the typical form of marketing speak. Here is how you can use the table to gauge the effectiveness of your message: Find the column and the row that best describes your proposition's strength and credibility. For example taking 'quantified' column 2 and 'you say it' row 1, putting the effectiveness of the proposition/benefit at 40%.

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Proposition Power Index: Calculating The Power Of Your Proposition Strength: How it is said? Credibility: Customers say it Who says it? Experts say it You say it

Verbalized 60% 40% 10%

Quantified 80% 60% 40%

The Table Explained: At the top of the far right column is the index figure of 100, corresponding to the power or effectiveness of a message that is monetized and said by your customers. This indicates the most powerful form of sales proposition. At the bottom of the far left column is the index figure of 10, corresponding to the power of the proposition that is purely verbal (as opposed to quantified) and is not substantiated by a 3rd party (i.e. 'you say it'). Contrast the bottom of column 1 with the top of column 3. The message is clear: you can make your proposition up to 10 times more powerful by first monetizing it and then validated it by reference to your customers.

IDEAS: Making It Work For You

Rework your telesales script, or email marketing letters to communicate a quantifiable proposition that is backed up by customer quotes, or stories. Then for the next two weeks use your old message on half of your list and the new message on the other half. When the two weeks are up compare the results.

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Monetized 100% 80% 60%

The Science Behind This Paper These insights and tools are based on extensive research under 3 headings:

1. Buyer Research – our ground-breaking research into how modern buying decisions are made and the implications for sellers.

2. Best Practice Research – Over 1 million pages of best practice sales case studies, books and research.

3. Common Practice Research – Our peer comparison benchmark of 1,000s of your competitors and peers.

The Sales Engine® and SellerNav are trademarks of The ASG Group. The entire contents of this document are copyright of The ASG Group and cannot be reproduced in any format without written permission.

Would you like help in tackling your sales challenges? Contact us at: enquiries@theASGgroup.com

www.theASGgroup.com

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Make Your Proposition 10 Times More Powerful!

Being heard over the competition in a crowded marketplace ta...