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3 Steps to Communicating Your Value in Professional Services Sales

blog author
Written by John Doerr
President, RAIN Group

One of the greatest difficulties in professional services sales is helping potential clients understand what outcomes they will achieve when they work with you. Creating a picture of what outcomes are possible with the solution you present is imperative for two reasons. First, prospects need to be convinced of the outcome and that you can achieve it or they likely will not purchase. Second, if they do not fully understand what you are able to do for them, they cannot communicate it to the rest of the influencers in their organization and your sale may get stuck in endless internal discussions.

Helping prospects to understand the value of the services you provide is an exercise in teaching and learning. Prospects need to understand what will be different for them and their company if they purchase your services versus if they don’t, or if they purchase services from a competitor. In the end, prospects are not interested in buying your services; they are interested in what your services will get them.

Whatever your service may be, you must show prospects how it will change their world. In other words, you need to create with them their new reality. To do this well, you need to:

  • Establish the new reality benchmark by discovering what you need in order to create the best new reality you can for them (i.e., what’s your solution to their needs)

  • Translate your solution into the case for moving forward with you

  • Paint the picture of the new reality so they can understand it and all its value
3 Steps to Communicating Your Value in Professional Services Sales

  1. Establish the New Reality Benchmark

    In the end of a well-managed sales process, your job is to create a new reality that will be best for your client from their perspective, given their needs and challenges and the impact of doing (or not doing) something about them.

    One of the first steps—even before you have engaged a complete needs discovery and solution crafting process—is to ask them what they want the world to look like once your work is done. Broad questions that start them envisioning the future are a good way to get the creative juices flowing.

    • At the end of this engagement, what will success look like?

    • After working with us for 6 months, what do you see happening?

    • What is your current service provider delivering in terms of creating the changes you need? Where are they falling short?

    • What do you want to have happen as a result of our work together?

    Don’t be surprised if the prospect’s first answer to these questions is, “I don’t know.” More than likely they also will say, “That’s a good question.” If this happens, don’t jump right in. Silence will indicate you expect an answer, and with some thought they will give you one. Prompt them if need be.

  2. Translate the New Reality

    Whatever the new reality is, you need to describe it to the prospect. This is not just throwing numbers out there because they look good. If your prospect selects your service, what results can they reasonably expect to achieve? For example, you might tell them they will:

    • Save 22%, or $1.2 million on costs of running their warehouses

    • Improve their cycle times by 13 days, cutting out major inefficiencies in their operational processes

    • Set up new operations for them in a new city that will improve quality levels by 17%

    • Improve revenue by $600,000 by increasing the effectiveness of their lead generation programs

    • Decrease the headaches of working with their current service provider who is always late and never returns calls

    One challenge of professional services sales is selling the intangible. When you translate your new reality, be as specific as possible. Tangiblize the results for the prospect, tell stories, and give examples of results you’ve achieved.

  3. Paint the Picture

    Now put the new reality into your proposal to the prospect. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a chart, graph, or table is worth at least that many.

    A simple chart outlining the value each of your services will deliver to the prospect will sell better than paragraph after paragraph of prose. In other cases, a table of figures might be the right approach.

    You do not have to rely on just one picture. As much as is appropriate, you can present the new reality in both qualitative (descriptive or conceptual) terms as well as quantitative (financial or other numerical-based measure) terms. (Note: try not to spam your prospect with charts and graphs…use them if they are helpful in communicating your message.)

Creating Your Own New Reality

Since outcomes are what we all are looking for as we seek to improve our efforts in sales, I will leave it to one of our clients to describe what your new reality can be if you follow this approach:

"We had been asked to propose two times in the past and had lost both times. When the third RFP came in, we debated whether or not to try again, but this was a large pharma company and the deal was considerable. This time we decided to take the approaches we had learned and sent a radically different response.

We won the deal.

When we asked the client why this time, they responded, 'You painted the picture of what we were trying to achieve. No one else showed they understood what we wanted to get to.'

It was all about the new reality."

In professional services sales, communicating your value is all about painting a rich picture of what your prospect will achieve should they decide to work with you. When done correctly, the new reality will demonstrate that you understand what they’re trying to do, that your solution will get them there, and that the results will be superior to other options available.

Topics: Value Proposition Consultative Selling