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The Sales Development Value Proposition – The Best SDRs Don’t Just Pitch, They Deliver Value

It’s as old as sales, the pitch, but I am shocked at how frequently salespeople stumble through it. Every rambling cold call, every flustered kid at an event booth, every email that reads more like a novel…it all stems from the same inability to simply articulate what you sell and why it matters.
So, let’s begin with a redefinition. Today’s best salespeople aren’t so much “pitching” as they are delivering a “value proposition.” The difference, while subtle, is important. A pitch is typically self-serving and remains the same each time you deliver it. It also tends to devolve into a features-and-benefits sell: “Let me tell you about this really cool product. It does this and that and all these great things!”

A value proposition, by contrast, is buyer-centric, and thus adapts to each situation. “Our product has been helping companies like yours with value 1, 2, and 3, by doing X.”

The Value Proposition is Essential to Sales Development

While the Account Executives have the luxury of hour-long meetings, PowerPoint presentations, and detailed notes on the prospect’s needs, the SDR has to go in completely cold, and deliver value in a couple sentences.

For the Sales Development Representative, a great value prop is the foundation of your whole selling process. It helps your emails be more concise and relevant. It keeps your voicemails from rambling. But most importantly, it’s the only way you stand a chance on a cold call.

As buyers are increasingly inundated with emails and phone calls from vendors, their patience shrinks, and they demand more value and more specificity right off the bat. Our data shows that cold calls with prospects on average last less than five minutes. For many, it’s as short as two. Two minutes from “Hi, my name is…” to “Great, when can we schedule that meeting?” That’s as much attention span as you get, and the best Sales Development teams are able to create more sales opportunities faster with airtight messaging.

When I ask buyers what they want from their buying experience, they all say the same things. Buyers prefer:

  1. A value prop that is relevant to their business.
  2. A value prop that is easy to understand.
  3. A salesperson who is engaging and energetic.
  4. A salesperson who can engage in a valuable business conversation.

Consider this while delivering your message. A great value prop helps you to stand out from the hordes of other sales calls and emails your prospects receive every day.

sales development value prop

4 Simple Rules to Deliver a Great Value Prop:

1. Keep it short

Do not overwhelm your buyer with information. Keep your message short and to the point. I always run an exercise with the teams I work with. First, write out a pitch you can deliver in under 30 seconds. Then in 2 sentences (1 preferably). Sounds simple enough, but try it for your own company right now. It’s hard to reduce a product/service you spend most of your waking life with to just a few short words. You want to paint the whole picture, and you say more than the buyer needs to hear. Which leads me to my next point…

2. Cut the jargon

“We’re a disruptive, cloud-based, sales optimizing thing-a-ma-jig, that utilizes big data and predictive analytics to rapidly scale, integrate, and…stop, just stop. I don’t work with you. I’m not familiar with your solution. I have NO IDEA what you are talking about.

When I just started in sales, and couldn’t deliver a clean value prop to save my life, I dreaded people asking me what I do. I told my mom I worked at Google. I told people at bars I work in tech, or sales, and left it at that. Don’t be me. Cut the buzzwords, make it accessible to the stranger in the bar, your mom, your kids, whomever. If they get it, your buyers will too.

I’ll give you a concrete example. I used to work for an account management software company that helped account management teams drive more revenue from their existing customers by improving retention and identifying up-sell opportunities. But that’s not what I told my buyers. I said:

“We are the industry-leading, Salesforce-native customer success management software, that uses predictive analytics and data science to optimize your customer lifetime value by aggregating and analyzing your customer data, and automating customer success workflow.”

Yikes! Do us all a favor. Dumb it down. Cut the jargon.

3. Tailor your message

Beyond telling a prospect what you do, you must make them feel like you are the only person out there who can solve their unique challenges. Especially in competitive environments, set yourself apart early, and tailor your messaging to the person you’re talking to.

Specify your message by:

  • Title
  • Industry/Vertical
  • Company Size
  • Use Case/Solution

It should sound something like:

“VPs of Marketing at the largest security companies like A, B, and C use our solution to solve challenges X, Y, and Z.”

This helps build immediate trust with your prospects. It’s clear you are familiar with their business, you have worked with people just like them and helped them with similar challenges. At this point, you have earned their attention, and they will likely schedule more time with you.

4. Be energetic, be passionate

This one is simple, if you don’t care, why should they? If you sell face-to-face most of what your prospect picks up on is your body language. On the phone, all your have is your tonality and your message, in that order. Tonality matters more than what you say, so be engaging. I recommend standing up and smiling while you talk. It helps project confidence and friendliness. Prospects enjoy buying from energetic and passionate salespeople.


About the author: Bryan Gonzalez is the Sales Development Analyst at TOPO. He has helped two high-growth companies launch their SDR teams and define the role and strategy. With TOPO, he is excited to help others design, build, and optimize their own sales development organizations to accelerate their growth. He has been an SDR, he knows the grind. Follow Bryan on Twitter.

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