The value that you create for stakeholders at varying levels within your dream client company need to address their specific and distinct needs.
This problem plagues companies that sell products. The better the product, the more prevalent—and detrimental—this problem becomes.
Because your product is magnificent, because it has so many wonderful features and so many outstanding benefits, it’s easy to want to share all of the ways that product creates value for the end user. So espousing all of the joys that are your product, you go on and on about the product.
But if you are calling on someone high enough in the organization, your efforts to spell out all of the important features and benefits that the product provides isa waste of their time. The features and benefits from an end-user perspective aren’t interesting to higher-level executives who are instead supremely interested in the strategic value your product might deliver.
Higher-level executives are going to be interested in how your product helps them to compete against their competitors. They are going to want to know how it helps them generate more revenue than they would without it or how it increases their profitability over competing options. Their value creation needs are higher up the continuum.
This problem can work the other way, too. Sometimes a salesperson that is used to selling higher in organizations finds herself face to face with someone far lower in the organization. At the end-user level, the discussion of future-looking strategic alignments, competitiveness, revenue improvement, or improved profitability can fall on deaf—and uninterested—ears.
This attempt at value creation is also mismatched (and ineffective). The end-user has problems that exist a transactional or execution level. That is their primary concern, and it doesn’t help them that you have shared values at the strategic level; it helps them that you can fix the problems and challenges that are dealing with in the here and now.
As you make your way north and south through your dream client, you have to be able to create the right value for all of the stakeholders you encounter.
You have to be able to create value and walk the talk with the stakeholders that are charged with executing and getting the transactional tasks done, as well as walking the talk with the executive level stakeholders that need you to be a value creating, seeing-around-corners, strategic partner.
If you attempt to create the wrong kind of value with the lower level, end-user stakeholders, you can come across as arrogant, out-of-touch, aloof, or clueless.
If you attempt to create the wrong kind of value for higher-level executives, you can come across as too small, as lacking the business acumen, and as someone who isn’t enough of a businessperson to own and manage the outcome that your dream client really needs.
The real skill is in being able to navigate the organization and build a solution that serves all of the stakeholders, and to make sure your selling the right value to the right stakeholders the whole way.
Are the problems you help your C-level contacts with the same problems that you help your end-user contacts to solve? If they are linked together, do you speak about the to these two groups in the same way?
How is the value you create for different stakeholders within an organization different?
What do the end user stakeholders expect and need from you?
What do the executive level stakeholders expect from you?
Are these needs always aligned?