Sales Messaging

Show... Then Tell (with Win Themes)

Value Selling

The value proposition. It’s at the core of everything we sell, right? Value propositions come in many varieties, but essentially, they are the statements that say, “You need what we’re offering, and we are uniquely positioned to sell it to you.” We’ve seen the statistics that tell us how important clear value propositions are to buyers… But is the value proposition statement alone enough?During a writing workshop I recently attended, an author spoke about the importance of “showing” your audience what a character is thinking or feeling versus “telling” them outright.

Apparently, many kids (and probably adults, too) tend to write things like “I was very scared” versus something more descriptive to engage the reader like… “My knees were shaking, and I could barely breathe.” It got me thinking about how it is much more powerful to feel and experience a value proposition than to just read it or hear it in a presentation.

Crafting Sales Messages

When we work with our clients on crafting sales messages for their customers, we start by encouraging clients to take their messaging beyond the singular value proposition statement. Generally, the value proposition is a statement that is very “we” focused – why our product is the best and why the customer should select.

To go beyond this level of thinking, we get our clients to think about the motivations of the individual decision makers and each criterion (rational or emotional) that might drive them to make a decision. Next, we ask our clients to think about their competitors and what value propositions they are offering the customer. Once we more closely examine these factors, we revisit the value proposition to ask, “Is it enough?”

Generally, we need more. We need messages that will:

  • De-emphasize competitive strengths
  • Counter competitive tactics
  • Appeal to the motivations of the people who will be making the decision
  • Demonstrate that our offering is worth what we are asking for it.

We brainstorm a list of these messages, and then select the top 3-5 that will have the most significant impact. We call these ‘win themes’ – they are more than just “we” messages – they are broad themes that set us apart across the entirety of our sales landscape. These win themes form the basis for how we execute our sales strategy.

Messages Come to Life

What’s important to note is that win themes are not just re-branded value propositions. This is where we bring the messages to life. Win themes are campaign mantras or rally cries. Generally, they are the last soundbites we want to resonate in our decision makers’ heads before they make a decision.

How do we do this? Like the author from the writer’s workshop said about writing, we must show our clients our win themes before (and as often as) we tell them. Especially for a customer who doesn’t know us, we must show them our value before they are going to believe what we say or what we write on paper.

What does this mean, really? It means our actions speak louder than our words. It’s who we introduce in the sales process, it’s how we conduct customer meetings, it’s what information we share and what we request during the sales process, it’s what our sales materials look like, it’s how our presentations are shaped, it’s how our deals are structured, and it’s the key messages that everyone on our sales team speaks and embodies throughout the sales process.

An Example to Bring It to Life

Consider that you are selling against an incumbent competitor. You know that the customer is looking for more updated technology, and you know that both you and your competitor provide similar offerings. But you also know that your competitor rarely offers up these leading-edge solutions to their existing accounts… they don’t like to rock the boat. They tend to keep their current customers on outdated platforms unless the customer requests an upgrade. In fact, you know that this customer doesn’t currently have your competitor’s latest offerings.

To add to this, you know that your key decision makers are technologically savvy and are interested in transforming their workplace into a more modern space. In this sales landscape, you will want to design a win theme focused on keeping your customers current with the latest technology whenever they are able to take advantage of it.

More than just stating this, you may want to introduce the customer to your head of product innovation who can take the customer through your roadmap. You may also want to build an upgrade plan into your deal structure. Moreover, you’ll want to provide your customer with insights and lessons learned that you have gained over the years as you’ve brought your latest and greatest offerings to your existing accounts.

Win themes require a little more depth and creativity than the value proposition statement. But they can be extremely valuable in “showing” your value rather than merely stating it.

Like a proficient novelist, with the right win themes, you can engage a customer and keep them spellbound throughout the sales process. This creates an experience that demonstrates your value and enables key decision makers to fully embrace all that you have to offer.

Interested in learning how we can make win themes work for you? Contact us to start a conversation.

About The Author

Author photo Rachel understands what makes salespeople tick. She specializes in strategies that drive the change needed to produce results. She has managed many sales force transformations, helping sales leaders realign organizations and define new selling models. She has partnered with many organizations across industries to design and deliver sales training, coaching, and change management programs. Rachel has a knack for crystallizing complex concepts into a single picture with high-impact messages.

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