Why you need to get better at conveying value to win business
Have you ever missed out on an opportunity you really deserved to win? Struggled to explain what you offer to people who just don’t seem to understand? Maybe you’ve watched by helplessly as a prospective customer made a decision that you knew was not right for them. When you do great work, and sell great products, these situations are frustrating, difficult, and unfortunately, very common. So why does this happen, and what can we do about it?
Like it or not, the way that buyers and sellers communicate has fundamentally changed. In the past, deals were done on a handshake, and personal relationships had a lot of power. Now, if you’re selling to individuals, potential customers research their options online, and are often two-thirds of the way through their decision making process before they will talk to you.
If you’re selling to companies, you’ll find that most deals of any size and value are transacted through the customer’s procurement or purchasing department. These buyers are also frustratingly difficult to talk to.
Recently, I attended a seminar on contract management with about 50 other people, most of them buyers for corporations and government entities. Afterwards, one buyer asked the seminar presenter how she would recommend getting market intelligence about potential suppliers. The answer came back immediately: “Google”.
In this environment, it is very difficult to get noticed and to assert your value. However, this is not an entirely new phenomenon.
Back in Renaissance Italy, many people aspired to make a living from their art. However, a lucky few artists were able to find financial support from wealthy patrons who became admirers, and then supporters, of their work.
This system had benefits for both parties. Artists received a living wage, access to luxury materials (such as gold and lapis lazuli) and commissions to produce art on a size and scale they could otherwise only dream of. Patrons used the art they produced as a means of expressing and enhancing their social status. Without this patronage system, we wouldn’t have many of the works of brilliant artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo or Raphael.
Today, as it was then, the ability to communicate your true value is the key to unlocking more of what you want – more customers, higher margins, and more rewarding work.
Your customers make buying decisions with the help of their gut, head and heart.
With their gut, they’re forming an impression of cost and risk. Author and neuroendocrinologist Dr Deepak Chopra says that gut feelings are "every cell in our body making a decision". Buying decisions are often triggered by fear, and we can help our customers to understand and protect against their fears.
With their head, they’re analysing productivity and complexity. The head drives logic, and most of us have way too much going on in there to be logical about all of it. This phenomenon is known as cognitive load, and we can play a role in reducing this burden for our customers.
Buyers also want to make an impact and create a legacy. With their heart, they’re deciding whether you are the person they trust to set them on a different – smarter and better – path than they would be able to choose on their own.
When you are pitching for new business, thinking about the commercial value you generate - and not just the work you do - helps you to move your attention from inwards on yourself, to outwards on the customer and their needs. This, in turn, helps to break down the barriers you will face in communicating your value to customers, and protects you against becoming a commodity.
Robyn Haydon is the author of three books on business development: her Winning Business series includes Winning Again (customer retention), The Shredder Test (winning proposals) and the recently-released Value: how to talk about what you do so people want to buy it. Visit www.robynhaydon.com
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.