Win Themes, poorly executed, sound like long, boring, bragging statements. They can ramble on about the benefits of products or services and likely sound a little different from any other competitor.
Win Themes, at their best, are a concise and focused “branding” that truly resonates emotionally at the heart of what the client wants to achieve. It resonates and cuts through the noise – it isn’t something each competitor is talking about.
When we coach sales professionals on a particular deal, one of the foundational tools is Revenue Storm’s Pursuit Profiler™ Tool, which focuses on the six key areas of selling.
One of the six is Competitive Strategy, and inside that we examine the sales professional’s Win Theme. We test it against the following criteria:
“We have evidence that our chosen Win Theme has gained enough traction to become a critical influence on the buying decision, and we have demonstrated that Win Theme is best represented by us.”
Sometimes Win Themes can represent an entire companies’ approach and have been used to great success to create emotional momentum around their brand, including examples such as “Just Do It” or “Think Different.” Why have they been successful? Because they resonate with what the targeted audiences passionately care about.
It’s the same when we are selling. We need to resonate with our client’s strategic business objectives. The things that are most important to them! Our Win Themes need to demonstrate we understand them. In just a few words, no more than four or five, we must pinpoint those needs and connect to them.
Win Themes differentiate you from the competition. Once selected and tested with the client, the Win Theme becomes part of “our branding or identity” for the project. You must provide reference points to tie back to the Win Theme throughout the project, especially when detailed conversations become too complex.
Simpler/ Faster/ Better.
Here is a true story. Names have been changed to protect commercial confidences.
A large global energy company decided they wanted to outsource their Data Centers around the world (pre-cloud), so they initiated a project and invited ten IT services providers to a briefing session. Each supplier was permitted to bring up to four people.
The energy company was highly experienced in IT outsourcing and knew precisely how to get the best from the potential service providers with a lengthy procurement process. The debriefing session was extremely well organized, with the CIO and her team sharing a detailed presentation of what they wanted to achieve utilizing a competitive procurement process.
The presentation lasted for a couple of hours, with the assembled audience scribbling away throughout. Clearly, this was going to be a huge and expensive project, running over an extended period.
As the meeting was coming towards an end – Terry, the overall Client Project Manager, took the microphone and started to summarize the preceding presentation.
And then the magic happened.
In essence, Terry said, what we are trying to do is simplify our global IT operating model – we want a single delivery model globally. We have to get much better at provisioning IT services for our businesses. Today, it can take weeks from an initial request for service to service going live, and we must significantly improve service quality for our businesses. Oh… and we need to significantly lower our operating costs.
At the bottom of my note pad I wrote: Simpler, Faster, Better, Cheaper.
Back at the office, we assembled our bid team and discussed the client session. As a team, we decided our Win Theme would be Simpler, Faster, Better.
Cheaper was a given… table stakes with this client.
The following week, we met with Terry, thanked him for sharing his summary of requirements, and tested our Win Theme. Obviously, we did not refer to it as a Win Theme. We shared we had a team mantra to align everyone involved from our company to the goals for the project.
It worked… Terry loved it! Of course, he should – they were his words. In the following twelve months, the competition was strong. We rolled out our branded Win Theme in every email, document, presentation, and conversation with the client… reiterating that together, we would be Simpler, Faster, Better. Ensuring we tied back to one or more of the three key elements, whenever possible, with our solution.
Towards the end of the project, as one of the last two suppliers standing, we were invited to conduct a final presentation of our solution and value proposition to the entire client project team. The presentation was to run over two days for each supplier.
We assembled our team and rehearsed, and rehearsed, and rehearsed.
The first day of our sessions arrived, and our team entered the meeting room – each one wearing a white shirt with the client’s logo, and Simpler, Faster, Better embroidered on the front and a small logo of our company on the back. A great first impression for sure, but more importantly, each section of our presentation ended with, “…and the reason we will do it like this is to make sure….” you get the idea. After a few sections of our presentation, the client project team was completing each part of the conversation with our Win Theme – Powerful stuff!
A great Win Theme may not win you the deal, but it can make a massive difference as part of your competitive strategy. The best part? They are free.
And yes… we won.
Do you have a Win Theme? How long is it? Does it reflect what is most important to your client’s strategic business objectives? Test it. If they love it, use it to brand your value proposition and communicate it! If you don’t have one, brainstorm with your team and test it with your client.