It doesn’t matter what technology you’re selling: if your value proposition isn’t relevant, compelling and memorable - they won’t buy it.
Public sector buyers emerging from lockdown are venturing into the unknown. Until 2020 they had to maintain services whilst cutting budgets. Now they also need to deliver new services in an environment that’s changing every day. Oh, and radically reduce costs, because the Government has borrowed unprecedented amounts of money and needs to pay it back...
Those buyers are open to tech-led solutions. But they’re looking for solutions, not tech. So your value proposition has to address their needs and sell your technology as a solution.
If you don’t understand those needs, stop now. It’s a huge market - local Govt alone spent over £2bn on tech and telecoms in 2019 - so your value proposition has to stand out against myriad competitors targeting the same buyer. Many of those competitors will be larger and better-known than you are, with established relationships. So, unless your message is relevant, compelling and memorable, you’ll get lost in the crowd.
Relevant, because it needs to explicitly address issues and challenges that keep those decision-makers awake at night. So a proposition that reads “We give you the templates, tools and artefacts to boost your journey to the cloud” doesn’t hold a candle to “You’ll reduce your back office costs by 60%”.
Compelling, because the benefit of its adoption needs to be greater than the hassle of implementing it. Especially in an environment where research shows that less than one in five technology-led transformation programmes achieve their original objectives. And that benefit needs to convince the end user, as well the IT dept, or they just won’t use it.
And memorable, because someone, at some stage, is going to ask, “Tell me again why I’m signing off on something I don’t understand from a company I’ve never heard of?”. So, unless your sponsor can articulate a clear benefit in the next seven seconds you won’t win the business.
What does a relevant, compelling and memorable value proposition look like?
Well, it doesn’t start with ‘We are a Trusted Partner’. Is that what I’m looking for? Really?
It must, however, demonstrate your understanding of, and empathy for, the significant issues your target audience is facing. So it might start with:
You need to maintain service levels with 40% greater demand and reduced productivity.
And then it must suggest that what you’re selling is a solution to that issue. For example:
This AI-driven solution offers five key benefits that improve the efficiency of your customer service function:
- Faster response
- Improved resolutions
- Constant improvement
- Zero training
- Reduced risk
Why five? Read Miller’s Law on our capacity for processing information. And assume that only two or three of the five will be relevant and compelling to different functions in the decision-making team.
So - five tips for selling tech to buyers who don’t know what they need unless you tell them:
- Find out what keeps your prospect awake at night. If you don’t know, don’t waste their time or yours.
- Sell benefits, not features. Reducing costs by x% is a benefit. Faster processing speed is a feature and the buyer doesn’t care how you do it.
- Back up the benefits with data: a quantified business case beats vague promises every day.
- Bring the benefits alive with analogous stories and simple diagrams. People remember stories and pictures, not bullet points. And if they can't remember your value proposition when it comes to decision-making, you’re not going to make the sale.
- Listen more, say less. A lot less...
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