For the second block I chose Jack Derby's session on creating value propositions. Jack is a sales legend and teaches this stuff at MIT and Tufts so I knew I would learn a lot listening to him. Jack not only knows all the data and latest Forrester research but he also is a practitioner so he has the real world experience which makes every example he uses even more powerful. He knows this topic inside and out. We are bombarded with approximately 5,000 messages a day so how do you make sure yours is one of the handful your customer actually remembers at the end of the week? No one has enough time today so make it easy for your customers to remember you. It was a highly interactive session and Jack called on audience members (including yours truly) to share their value propositions with the group. He poked, he prodded, and if you were very lucky he clapped when you were done (whew!). See the photo of Dave McLaughlin from Vsnap sharing his value prop included here.
The room was packed 8 rows deep of chairs people dragged from the other side of the room. Jack's stellar reputation preceded him as one of the sessions chosen in advance. Jack started the session with research showing that the #1 reason B2B sales people fail is because they cannot communicate a clear value proposition. A value prop requires specificity so you need to be able to answer the "so what" question. He used examples from his clients, businesses in the room, and even Cheerios from General Mills. Cheerios is the top selling cereal in the world. Why is that so, how did they become the market leader? They have nice yellow packaging with great graphics but they are the sales leader because they are "heart healthy" which lowers cholesterol which reduces heart attacks and ultimately saves lives. So whether you realize it consciously or not when you buy a box of Cheerios you believe you are preventing death, all that for a few bucks not a bad value proposition huh?
What drivers are you moving in your business? Break it down to its base and tie it to some metrics for best results. Jack's formula links the driver to a verb and a way to quantify results so for example, "we mitigate risk to save you time & money..." This is not about your elevator pitch; the focus is on the buyer, not the seller. What is in it for them? Start with the why, not the what. It was a great session. It think everyone in the room walked away with a few new ideas and tips to tighten their value propositions. If you have the opportunity to learn from a master like Jack by all means take it. The UnConference does such a great job of assembling the right people in the room and when smart folks get together that is when the magic happens. So if you missed this session find a way to catch Jack online or maybe next year here. If you missed the UnConference then mark your calendar for 2014 because it is brain candy like no other and it is great even the day after Halloween this is candy you will crave!
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO
Mavens & Moguls
Because Marketing Matters