This is biiiig. I rarely meet anyone or any firm who really gets this. As I mentioned in The 6 Stages in the BizDev Cascade the BizDev process is like a series of stages of water flowing downwards. Time and again I observe implementors having a hard time at a client site as the sales guys promised the moon. Time and again the sales guys get bogged down as the marketing guys hinted at the moon but they are just selling rock. Marketing messages can only reflect the Value but if that’s not clear the whole thing takes on a life of its own .. we might consider Coca-Cola. What is the value in 12tsp of sugar and a bunch of chemicals in a can? The product has become the marketing message – that’s what sells.
So value mining and refining is absolutely key… any error here and the whole stream is polluted. So what do I mean by this?
Well the problem is that value can be very hard to arrive at. To take some simple examples…
Is the value in a Rolex the ability to tell time? Is the value in some shi shi ladies high-heeled shoes the ability to protect the soft sole of the foot and to support good spinal posture?
These are perhaps obvious. Where it can be far less obvious is for example in IT products. I first touched computers a looong time ago. And fortunately avoided demos for quite some time 🙂 But every demo I have ever seen subsequently tends inevitably to get sucked towards the black hole of “what it does” – like all 101 things it does.
In helping a client this year close their first ever deal on their extensive product suite the key was to mine for the real value. Why did mobiles catch on? Well in part as txting was a “killer app” – a must have (and of course it was invented “by accident”). Same thing with IT systems … what is the unique “must-have”-ness about it? We found the real pain point in the client – the broken internal process – which our product could enable. That and only that was what mattered. Like Clinton in his first election one keeps returning to the core purpose … “it’s the economy stupid”.
I spoke to someone else this week who divides their one hour sales meeting into questions asked of the client (very good) but only 15mins – and then 45mins exhaustive presentation (with random data) of the full functionality of the tool. This unsurprisingly is not effective. Have you ever sat through such a thing? It is soooo boring … generally after about 15 seconds I have lost the plot and soon after the will to live amidst a flurry of mouse clicks, drop-down menus and “oh hang on lets just do this”s. You just can’t do that in the 21stC – attention and hence interest is so fleeting – lose it and you will never get it back.
A service example which brings in refining is working with a client/former colleague/partner [21stC does tend to blur categories at times :-)]. John Philpott is a brilliant SME with an extensive knowledge of financial regulation – he read 1,800 pdfs in the first half of the year alone. But this volume of brilliance presents a real problem. Too much rock comes out of the mine!
So we worked on value refining. John produced an extensive Powerpoint. We discarded 99% of this and amplified the 1%. We did the same again – discard 99% and amplify 1%. Of course there is an art in this – it’s “very Tao” – you really need a nose for mining and refining lest you throw the wrong material out. There is no “dot-to-dot” “business school textbook” process for this..
In the end we came up with something unique and my chum got a gig very rapidly thereafter.
The final stage is Value Encapsulation. Having got your shiny, purified of all dross, copper or gold, how do you take that to the market? An interesting question for another day. But, for now, as any marketer will tell you, it’s far easier to market pure metal than it is grains amidst a whole bunch of shale and sandstone.
So the next time you are feeling stuck in BizDev spend some time further back up the cascade. Go back to the value. You may think you mined and refined correctly but – just like in metals manufacture – it’s always possible to refine your value further. In doing so you make your product ever more valuable.