The most powerful part of aligning yourself with a potential prospect is communicating your company’s mission and values. You should communicate what your company hopes to achieve by working with the prospect in a simple, concise way. When communicating your mission, sharpen your position and speak about the value in your offering in the overall context of your business.
Author Jackie Woodside says this about communicating your company’s mission and values: “You can see that the mission statement uses imagery, powerful words and concepts, expressing core values and calling me into an empowering future. This is the role of mission. It calls you and your company forth into its fullest expression and communicates the essence of why you are here.” You must do this in order to determine if what you do, fits the needs of what the prospect wants you to do.
Without “mission and values alignment,” even a deal that looks “done” can become null and void because something very important to the buyer wasn’t addressed.
Geoffrey James, author and Sales Source contributor says, “When you know–truly know–what your products and services are worth, you’re unafraid to communicate. You’ll be strong and confident about what you can contribute.” But it’s more than knowing the value of your offering. It’s knowing how this value adds to the mission of your prospect’s company.
One may think, “Wait a minute, I’m selling large scale computers to a financial services firm. We just don’t have the same mission.” However, it is possible to articulate an alignment in mission by stating to the prospect, “Our firm makes the most reliable computers because we focus primarily on financial services firms. We know that these firms cannot afford to have a system go down during the middle of the day.”
This message aligns your “raison d’être” with theirs. This is not “fluff” or situational truth. It is only effective if you either discover or create genuine alignment based on what you offer and what your prospect needs.
Allow the prospect to understand that your businesses accomplish compatible goals and objectives. In 2002, when asked for his advice for other industries starting similar businesses, CEO Harold Kutner, of Covisint, a B2B commerce hub that fell far short of expectations, replied:
“We spent a lot of time developing products from the voice of the car manufacturer and didn’t spend enough time getting input from the suppliers. I think you’ve got to understand who your customer base is. You need strong input relative to what products you are going to provide them and have a tracking mechanism to make sure that the techies don’t deviate from that voice of the customer.”
Once you have communicated your company’s focus and values to the prospect, you have to consider what they find is important. Some questions you will want to ask the prospect to understand their point of view are:
Answer these questions and you will have a better understanding of the alignment between you and your prospect. The best possible outcome is a mission match. To find this match, consider the following:
As you build rapport, ask discovery questions to uncover the reality of their company and situation.
Consider what the prospect might say about your mission and values, and how you will respond.
These are the “things” you want your prospect to know about your offering in the context of what they value.
After going through these three areas, your prospect will have a clear understanding of where your missions align. Mission & Values Alignment — what you’ve just done — is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks for a salesperson, because it can be the most subtle. It’s about connecting your company’s mission with your prospects'. At the same time, it frames this connection from the customer’s point of view, to articulate why you — as a company — exist. The result should be a match in mission.
Once a senior leader has told you their company’s focus and values, and the issues and processes they are trying to resolve, enhance, or enable; and they agree that your company is aligned with theirs, you have the “green light” to move on to the next conversation — the problem state.