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How to Build a Sales Initiative Around an Individual Value Proposition Stack

“Customer Advisors provide indirect political support to customer Foxes, Power Base members, and those people who have the potential to become part of the Power Base. This not only helps the people involved but also improves the overall customer organization and simultaneously strengthens your relationship with the Power Base.”

In my last two posts I described the process of building an unassailable value proposition stack by customizing it for a specific Economic Buyer. In Disruption Selling we call the mechanism supporting this process Sales Initiatives.

Sales Initiatives start with building a value proposition stack for a target account we want to approach addressing environmental, shareholder, and organizational goals. While Sales Plays stop here to approach an entire target market segment with a generic value proposition, the Sales Initiative continues with building an account-specific political value proposition leveraging the work that went into the Sales Play already.

The political value proposition must resonate with the power base we regard as the most influential within the account. Ideally we want to trigger a new buying decision process from scratch so we start with the enterprise power base, the group of people setting the corporate agenda and driving the culture of the entire organization.

The enterprise power base manifests and communicates their priorities via strategic initiatives to the internal organization, shareholders, and external stakeholders, e.g., analysts, communities, and the government. They usually relate to industry trends and societal agendas, e.g., sustainability, resilience, digital transformation.

In order to connect to these strategic initiatives we must demonstrate how our offering will promote their successful delivery taking the enterprise power base’ agenda into consideration.

Let's look at an example here in which we want to position our offering as the strategic platform for a connected car solution for an automotive OEM with several brands ranging from a luxury niche to commodity mass market. The requirements vary across a wide spectrum and the luxury niche brands insist on having their own connected car solution independent from the mass brands.

Let’s also assume the enterprise power base includes several members of the executive board and they fear the risks of multiple disjoint connected car platforms, e.g. lack of economies of scale resulting in high costs per vehicle for luxury brands. As a result, our political value proposition must drive economies of scale with lower cost per vehicle across all brands.

We achieve this by proposing a connected car solution with a common backend and an API layer allowing each brand to build their own use case leveraging communication infrastructure, data management, compliance and security of the common platform. In order to disarm the brands’ argument that their voice won’t be heard in the development of the platform we design an engagement model where the roadmap is built as a rolling three-year plan and where the brands are free to allocate their funding, thus jointly driving the platform's direction.

Notice how the political value is achieved by a combination of solution architecture AND engagement model! Combining product features with other components of a proposal is the prerequisite for achieving competitive superiority and, ideally, immunity.

Now that we have built the political value proposition we must define the personal value proposition(s) of the Economic Buyer(s). In our example, if one of the board members will carry the investment for our solution a political value proposition just for him will be sufficient.

It becomes more complex in case we must address multiple Economic Buyers, in our example: if every brand contributes to funding our solution. In this case we must build a sufficient number of personal value propositions to generate enough momentum for the decision to be taken. It becomes even more complex if personal agendas of Economic Buyers conflict with each other.

After we determined the value proposition stack we must break down its communication across the various customer stakeholders and assign it to the respective roles in our team, e.g., Account Managers, Technical Managers, Delivery Managers.

The value proposition determines the risk/reward perception of the targeted Economic Buyer(s) which allows us to determine the desired outcome of the Sales Initiative for us, e.g., total contract value, annual revenue, references. This is required to build internal support for our initiative with managers and peers.

Our Sales Initiative is built on a number of assumptions, e.g., regarding the personal agendas of one or more Economic Buyers. We must list and qualify the risks of these assumptions being wrong and describe how we plan to mitigate these.

Contributions we need from resources outside the team must be specified as asks to the respective owners and their commitment must be ensured early in the project.

At customers where we run multiple Sales Initiatives simultaneously these must be listed in the Account Plan. The Single Threaded Leader owning the overall account outcome must orchestrate them to avoid conflicting messages and resources.

Go to to download our Sales Initiative Template to start building your own Sales Initiative.

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