Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Creating the "Value Proposition" letter

Coming back to the Value Proposition process. 

You’ve gone through Dunn and Bradstreet, identifying target companies. For each of these you have the name and address of the “Principal”. The titles vary a lot, but D&B has a primary contact. For each company you target, more research will be required to get the most current info. Start with the company web page, then look it up on Google/Bing. Do a LinkedIn search as well. After you have done this, your list should be a bit smaller as some of the companies may have moved out of the area, gone out of business, changed businesses, etc., but you’ll know a lot about the companies that interest you.

Separately, you’ve done your research on what you provide for that company and can very succinctly state how your skill set provides exceptional value. When I look at my own history, I’ve done a lot of stuff and while my design and planning skills are completely competitive, what separates me from my peers is my ability to create very high performance teams that are stable and have exceptional durability.

The next step is to create a letter of five or fewer sentences that highlight what you can do and what the positive consequences have previously been and how those might apply to their company. This letter ends with a sentence stating that you will follow up on a specific date.

Using myself as an example, here’s how I might write a value-proposition letter:

Dear Ms Smith,

Over the last ten years I have had the opportunity to create three teams that support information technology and that have consistent, extraordinary results. In each of these cases, my team exceeded expectations significantly, built exceptionally robust systems and high levels of customer/user satisfaction, while remaining under budget. One of these teams rebuilt a corporate technology infrastructure including development of standards -based computing, increased uptime to more than 99%, and implemented a common “Electronic Client Health Record” across six distinct departments.

I would love to provide a similar level of support for your company and will call you to chat about how I can help on xxxx the xx of xxxx.


Stephen M. Paul

Call on the date and time specified. Say to the receptionist (or whoever answers the phone), “May I speak with Ms. Smith? She is expecting my phone call”. When Ms. Smith answers, say, “Hi, I’m Steve Paul. I sent you a note last week and am following up to see if you would like to chat about how I might be able to help XXX company obtain greater results in (here have a succinct version of what you are good at) testing blah de blah, or developing a larger customer database, or educating your customers on how to use your product.”

Whatever it is, this is the point where Ms. Smith has gone back through the 7,000 emails and letters she’s received and finally remembers that yes (or no) she is interested in talking about what you might be able to do. She does have a problem that you addressed in your letter. So she says, “Yes, Steve, nice to meet you. And yes, I would like to talk about fixing (something). I’m busy right now, but could you drop by tomorrow at 10 in the morning?”

Or she says, “No, we have a very well oiled testing system (or whatever it is) here and don’t need any help. Thanks for calling.” And hangs up.

Remember that if you get one out of 10 to be a positive contact, you are hitting a good sales percentage.

Selling is what you are doing, so learn to sell the fine brand that you are, so you can get a good job.

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