Why Leading With Value Is a Mistake -- and What to Do Instead
As entrepreneurs, we’ve learned that leading with value is the best way to get potential clients to trust you. Conveying value is an integral aspect of any business, but it’s not the most effective way of acquiring new business. At least not according to Lane Campbell.
Lane Campbell is a multi-entrepreneur and a master networker. He is one of the most connected people I know, and he sold multiple businesses including an agency. He recently came on the Digital Agency Marketing podcast to share his insights on agency marketing and B2B client acquisition.
Related: Turn More Prospects Into Customers
In our interview, Campbell explained why showing value is not the most important aspect of B2B selling and shared what should B2B companies do instead.
1. Follow the 95:5 formula.
Selling to cold prospects can be a big pain if you are solely focused on the aspect of selling. Instead, your focus should be on delivering the right solution to the customer’s problem. Customers usually don’t buy right away, even if what you’re offering is attractive.
In my interview with Campbell, he compared B2B selling to waking up with a headache: “If you wake up with a minor headache one morning, you’ll most likely let it subside on its own. You’re not going to take any Tylenol or Advil because you know it’s only a headache.”
A company will continue its operations and ignore the minor problems. It won’t go trying out a new Advil or Tylenol for its problems for the sake of trying out something new.
This is where Campbell uses the 95:5 formula in B2B selling. In a nutshell, the 95:5 approach refers to the percentage ratio between the customer’s trust in your services and your value proposition. Ninety-five percent of the time, a company will make a buying decision only if it trusts the solution. Only 5 percent of the time companies will take into consideration the value proposition of a company.
To some, this may be a bitter pill to swallow.
What B2B customers need is a solution they can rely on. As Campbell mentioned in our interview, trust is hard to build when you’re selling a service or a product. A company can go for an off-brand product -- a generic solution -- as long as it cures the problem.
But, if a company has a real pressing issue -- something along the lines of having a terrible migraine headache -- it will actively look for a solution to end the pain. As an entrepreneur, that would be your opportunity to sell into a company based on the value you provide.
The formula here still remains 95:5. But 95 percent of it is now based on you being able to offer value or make a difference in your customer’s bottom line. Only 5 percent is based on trust, but that is not to say that building relationships is not important.
You need to build trust and a sense of mutuality with your market. You can position yourself to lead with value if companies somehow know or trust you by the time they are ready to buy.
2. Leverage established relationships.
According to Campbell, one partnership can generate hundreds to thousands of new customers. But, partnerships take time to establish and there’s no single, clear-cut way of creating them.
Campbell built most of his businesses based on partnerships. When you're still building trust, selling a partner on your business takes the same amount of time as selling to one customer.
When B2B companies are able to leverage the relationship they have with their partners, things start looking up. Entrepreneurs can increase their referrals, but they still need to understand their partner's needs. You have to set up a partnership based on their needs.
Campbell often asks his partners what their partners and distributors need more often. You can then integrate whatever partners' customers need into what you are currently offering. This way, they don’t have to search elsewhere for it.
This gives your partners a sense of mutuality with you as an entrepreneur and they can help you promote your product or service.
Related: Who Is the Perfect First Customer?
3. You are the last mile
In the telecom business, the last mile refers to the carrier who owns the last mile of cable that goes to a building. In the service business, the entrepreneur is that last mile. It’s in your best interest not to be afraid of pushing back and trying to get what you need out of the relationship.
Campbell also emphasized that you need to understand your last mile if you have a product that you need to get out there.
“You're not going to get in the door with lawyers unless you find a company that already services lawyers," Campbell explained in the interview. "You're not going to get in the door with lobbyists unless you have a company that already provides a product or service to lobbyists.”
Those are the challenges of being an entrepreneur. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for all business challenges. But, if you look at your market, you can see where the money begins. Follow the trail. Who are they paying? How much are they paying? And what can you do for them?
It’s something simple, but not too many people know about this.