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How To Sell More: Value First, Brand Second

By Paul R. DiModica

Today, many marketing people love to talk about brand selling as the key business driver that induces prospects to take an action step to buy. But in this business world, to sell more, it should be value first, brand second. Why? Because every brand has attached to it both good and bad perceptions based on the receiver’s understanding at the point in time it is heard. It doesn’t matter if what you say about your brand is true – but from the receiver’s point of view – do they believe - it is true? At any time, the prospect may have read your brand statement in a trade publication or a national newspaper that was negative or they may have had a business acquaintance say something that describes your product or services incorrectly. Or worse!

Your firm is so big that your brand is too generic and it does not exactly describe how your product or service creates value for the prospect ….so immediately the prospect just dismisses your brand as having no value for them at all. Today, the question sales and marketing teams must answer is how do prospects see us? Do prospects see us as a vendor who is predator or do they see us as peer who is a provider? It’s not necessarily you or I that they are judging; it’s all of the salespeople and brands who preceded us.

Is your Branding just Testosterone Marketing? Often, brand marketing is some grandiose business exercise to paint the big picture of what makes your firm different and to explain why people should buy. The problem with big brand marketing is that if it’s not focused on value creation for the buyer, it boxes sales into a restrictive enclosure that at times limits new sales opportunities. Will Volvo, branded as safety cars ever sell lots of sport cars? Will Apple Computers branded as cool artistic PCs ever increase their business market share to 10%?

When your brand says, we have great service, or our company is committed to our customer or my product is the best….prospects don’t believe you. No one believes you - this is just corporate gobbledygook – because everybody says the same thing.

When you talk like your competitors, and sound like your competitors, and act like your competitors, you now are perceived to be like your competition and it’s hard for prospects to truly see the value difference of your brand and how you can help them.

This happens all the time. Has this happened to you? Is your pharmaceutical company’s brand so incorrectly positioned, that by just saying your corporate name it paints just one drug in the mind of doctors? Has your company developed a successful customer relationship management software application and that’s all prospects think you sell? Do you sell loose diamonds and your prospects don’t think you sell completed jewelry? Does your firm sell a broad range of financial services but your company’s name has the words “Life Insurance” in it?

In each of these examples, your firm’s brand gets in the way of you selling more. Prospects don’t return your calls or ignore you because they have made “judgment” observations about what they think your brand is and the value of what you sell.

Why did Kentucky Fried Chicken change their name to KFC? Because their brand forced buyers to see only “fried” chicken and not the entire food product line they sell. Why did AT&T change their name from American Telephone and Telegraph? Obviously, because they don’t sell telegraphs any more. Why did National Cash Register change their name to NCR? Because banks don’t buy cash registers, but they do buy the ATM machines that NCR sells.

Every word you say and don’t say to prospects paints pictures in the mind of the buyer called a “Visual Brochure”. Visual brochures are like TV screens that sometimes are out of focus. When you centralize your marketing and sales on one corporate brand you limit the TV screen’s clarity based on the reviewer’s knowledge and lack of knowledge about what you sell.

By using brand as a door opener or as a discussion item, you are assuming that the prospect knows and understands your offering and the offering’s value to them if they purchase from you. But, this assumption gives too much weight to the theory that all buyers know how to buy correctly and that all buyers understand your brand.

To grow your business faster, always communicate Value First and Brand Second. Business prospects buy based on three reasons and only three reasons.

1. Your product or service increases income for them;

2. Or your product or service decreases expenses for the buyer;

3. Or your product or service helps your buyer manage their potential risks or consequences;

These three business drivers are the true value buyer motivators that induce prospects to buy and companies and salespeople must use them upfront as tools during their pre-sales cycle to drive prospects to take action steps to buy. This value forward selling model focuses not on what “brand message” you want your prospect to assimilate, instead it focuses on the results your product or service delivers.

Instead of being a seen as a “Center Centric” company dedicated to selling financial services to manufactures, readjust your value position upfront as a “Manufacturing Financial Management Improvement Specialist”.

If you sell wholesale inventory to retail chains instead of telling them how great your customer service, alternatively communicate to them how your firm is a “Retail Inventory Turn Improvement Specialist” for businesses like theirs. If you sell technology outsourcing to healthcare facilities, position your pre-sales value potentially as “Healthcare Operational Cost Management Specialists.”

To sell more, stop focusing on your needs of telling prospects how great you are through the positioning of your business brand, and start describing the business results your product or services offers the buyer based on them selecting you. To sell more - Value First, Brand Second.

Read other articles and learn more about Paul DiModica.

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