How to add value to your customer’s world with your message
March 14, 2012 § 7 Comments
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If the product that someone is marketing to you won’t add to what you’re doing, would you want to talk to them? If your answer is “no” then your customer’s answer is “most definitely no“
If you’re selling an innovative, new, or underutilized product, then in all likelihood your product really will add value to your customer’s science, and they’ll tend to appreciate that you’ve made them aware of it.
In my last post I talked about how to earn credibility with a life science researcher, and earn the right to talk to talk about your product. The essential rule of thumb for any cold outbound communication is that you must put your customer before your product. In terms of earning the right to “pitch product,” this means showing you’re interested in your prospect’s research. In terms of terms of adding value, this means means teaching them something new or illustrating a perspective they had not though of before. Teaching them about a new technology (or an older technology they have not thought of before) that could improve their work = bringing value to the table.
If you can do this, you immediately do something that salespeople should (ALWAYS) want to do: you establish your expertise in your customer’s field. You make yourself credible to them, such that a) they’ll feel compelled to give you a response and b) you’ll set the tone that you deserve their respect throughout the duration of the sales process. At the same time, suggesting a new angle on their research in light of your technology also shows that you’ve spent the time thinking about a way that your technology may solve one of their problems (there’s no way to fake this by the way; you either care or you don’t and either way the truth will come across to them).
How to add value: since initial communications to customers are generally brief, the “adding value” part of the equation is generally short and straightforward as well. In a cold email where you’re opening with why you decided to contact them, segueing into what your company does, and finishing with the overlap you see between what you do and what they do, the value add comes in the final part. “Given the work you’re doing in animal models of anti-cancer treatments, I thought you might have an application for an in vivo imaging system, so you could track the effects of treatment on tumor size continuously instead of at individual time points.“
The kinds of reactions I typically get from this kind of message are:
- “I’d be happy to talk to you more about applications of your system.” (Great! That’s a qualified lead.)
- “That sounds interesting, but I am not in any position to purchase anything new at this point in time.” (Also great – I’m going to save this information in my CRM and make sure to contact you in 6 months from now)
- “I personally have no use for your product” (Also also great – this means you can focus on people who do have an interest, and you can also ask for a reference because you’ve already established that you bring something to the table).
When I get reaction #1 or #2, when I talk to this person on the phone, they know that I have an interest in their research (because I’ve shown that by researching their research) and they know I can add value to their work (because I’ve communicated valid ways of improving their experiments). 99% of investigators I encounter are comfortable opening up to experts who show interest in them. I don’t have good data for the opposite, but I’m guessing they’re less likely to open up to salespeople who show no interest and no expertise.
To wrap up, you always want to take the time to think about how your product will improve their research, and you want to communicate that you’ve thought about it (your customers are scientists, not mind readers). At best this will make your customers more inclined to open up to you (ie share their research problems and challenges); and at least this will differentiate you as a salesperson who cares/knows what they’re talking about, so you’ll be well positioned to get a reference out of it.
Has your experience been the same as mine or different? Let me know your thoughts.