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What’s the Customer Value Proposition?



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June 10, 2010 2:52 pm

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Telling the Novell story is something we all do, hopefully on a regular basis.  Our Make IT Work as One model makes sense, is easy to understand and to explain.  Our Intelligent Workload Management strategy side by side with the commitment to Collaboration resonates very well.

It’s not enough.

None of us can stop at this level.  I’ve personally done the IWM conversation numerous times and as suggested, have made it my own, and it has changed in how I deliver it as well.  Sometimes I bring the viability pieces to the front, sometimes I press harder on some areas of specific listener interest and lighter on others.  This isn’t about thinking “my version is better” it’s about the next level of resonance.

I remember being with Jon Wilburn and Patrick O’Brien at a Federal customer shortly after the vision deck came out.  The customer listened closely and did what we can all hope for.  He offered input back to us.  He said he got the vision, and he could align to it but if that was the Novell story he didn’t see a lot of point in more conversation.  His perspective was that vision is critically important, but that if we didn’t add value by sharing where we saw opportunities to leverage that vision in his specific business, we weren’t creating a differentiating event.

I took these comments to heart.  Partly because I really care about the company of course, but more importantly because a prospect took the time to share what we had done right and what was missing.  Jon had prepped us well, we understood the business and the very public challenges.  What we all failed to do was to take our vision and ensure that we made the presentation a bi-directional conversation about the customer/prospect issues.  I hope I haven’t continued to make the same mistake I did there.

So this post isn’t about catharsis for me.  It’s about being differentiating.  Every customer and prospect has a queue of vendors lined up.  Every one of those vendors has a vision.  Every one of them believes that their vision is “right”.  Put yourself in the customer’s chair and if the mental picture doesn’t bring on intestinal roulette you’re tougher than most.

We all acknowledge how busy we are, how many hours we put in, but as my esteemed colleague Tony Nocco puts it “you know who else is really busy?  Customers are really busy, in fact they’re getting hammered by low budgets, staff reductions and increased demand.”  There’s a good reason Tony is successful.  He puts himself in the shoes of the customer and treats them as he would want to be treated.  If you ever get the opportunity to do a call with Tim Wolfe pay close attention, he’s a master at being on the side of the customer with their best interests in mind.  And when you watch Tim, you see that doing so does not prevent Novell gaining value from the conversation.

So, all I ask of all of us on the vendor and partner side is to make sure that before we invite someone to a presentation or webinar or briefing that the primary objective is to deliver the specific context each customer or prospect is going to get as differentiated value.  And for the customers and prospects who read these missives, when you hear from us and don’t hear compelling value propositions please say “I’m not hearing compelling value propositions that will cause me to spend my expensive time.”  I promise you that we will make it right.

As always, thanks for reading.

Until next time, peace.

Ross

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