There’s a lot of talk about the need to add value to a business. It’s one of those buzzwords that we hear so often. But how do you add value to a business in practice?
When you break it all down, adding value is all about differentiation. It’s all about setting you apart from your competitors. And its about sales.
It wasn’t long ago that the sales process was dominated by helping customers identify the benefits of the product or service you wanted to sell. In this day and age, customers can source all of that information on the web.
So adding value is ultimately about positioning your company ahead of another and helping the customer understand how you are superior.
We caution about confusing this with a unique selling point (USP). In reality, very few businesses are unique. But almost all businesses are different from competitors. The ones that add the most value are able to articulate those differences in a way that “adds value”.
Adding value ensures that you stand out from the pack.
Think long and hard about what you do and how you do it. The easiest way to do this is to think about recent interactions with your customers and ask yourself some questions.
- What sort of issues have you been able to help your customers identify that they may not have been aware of?
- What sort of issues have you helped customers solve that they would not have been able to solve on their own?
- How has this in turn enabled them to succeed?
- What sort of expertise did you utilise?
- How have you developed services that your products alone could not solve?
The acid test may actually be to determine how you simplify your customer’s lives.
It’s best to ask these questions not only of colleagues but also your customers. Ask them how you have been able to help them in practice. Ensure that the process is exhaustive and record every capability.
A really useful by-product of this exercise are customer testimonials which are very valuable in demonstrating value objectively to prospective customers.
To keep you grounded, its just as powerful to reflect on interactions with prospects that didn’t work. It’s confronting but can be wonderfully insightful. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask why you didn’t get an order.
Once you’ve drawn up that list of capabilities, validate every one to ensure it truly does add value to customers. Distill your list into core capabilities. Check back with colleagues and customers alike.
Try to understand which one of the capabilities you do either better than your competitors or that your competitors don’t do at all.
Remember, even if a capability isn’t unique, the mere fact that you are identifying it probably will be. Most of your competitors won’t go through such a exhaustive process and so will not be able to articulate the value they add.
Once you’ve refined the set of capabilities you possess, you are ready to position that value for your prospects and customers. In order to add value, first you must identify problems or issues that the prospective customer may not be aware of. Or put another way, what sort of problems will prospects and customers experience without your specific expertise?
Now your know the value you add, set about working on articulating it.
- How can you distill your new found capabilities into an elevator pitch?
- What sort of questions might you pose to help customers uncover problems they may not have been aware of?
- How do you refresh your communications to help customers rather than tell them who you are and what you do?
- How does your website measure up now?
- How will this knowledge enable you to package up new services?
In closing who better to quote than Albert Einstein. “Try not to become a person of success, but try to become a person of value”.