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Focus on Desired Customer Outcomes to Improve Revenue Growth

Posted by Bruce Scheer on Feb 20, 2020 3:05:00 PM
Bruce Scheer

Focus on Desired Outcomes to Improve Revenue Growth

Two years ago, I heard a “value nugget” that has influenced how I help organizations define their value proposition and distill it down to three words or less. It came from John Chambers, former Chairman of Cisco Systems, who grew Cisco’s annual revenue from $70 million to $47 billion.

We met at John’s book launch at CES in Las Vegas. Sitting next to me was one of his former sales leaders at Cisco. When John was done speaking, the sales leader asked, “John, what's the most important piece of advice you have for sellers?” Without missing a beat, John responded, “Don't sell products... sell outcomes."

That clear and concise value nugget has stayed with me ever since, and forms the basis of the following illustrative story.

What is the Outcome You are Selling?

The setting was the bar at the former Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf Hotel in San Francisco. I started speaking with a gentleman with a newly-minted Executive MBA from a top-tier program. He was visiting San Francisco with his CEO, where they had an exhibit at a major healthcare industry show.

We eventually reached that awkward moment when we asked each other, “What do you do?” He said, “I sell a virtual reality solution for doctors.’ I said, “I help organizations get their value proposition down to one, two, or no more than three words.”

So I jokingly asked him what his value proposition was. “Netflix for Doctors,” he replied, with a sheepish grin on his face. I said that was more of a “what” statement than a “value” statement, and that I was confused about what he was really offering. Was it a virtual reality learning solution or a movie streaming service for doctors?

We then brainstormed for a bit on his value proposition by answering these key questions:

  1. Who is the target customer, which is defined as the target organization and the target buyer?

  2. What are the big problems we can help solve for the target customer?

  3. What is the Outcome we could promise that the target customer would find compelling?

In unpacking these three core questions relative to his virtual reality solution, we discovered:

  1. The target customers were hospital systems and the target buyers were Chief Medical Officers (CMO).

  2. The three biggest problems CMOs were trying to solve were (a) improving patient outcomes, (b) improving profitability, and (c) lowering the legal risks associated with patient lawsuits. This led to a discussion of the contributing factors that hurt patient outcomes, impacted profitability, and increased legal risk, including overworked doctors making preventable mistakes and under-utilized and experience-deprived interns not being trusted by doctors.

  3. By brainstorming the Outcome, we came upon the promise his company could offer. Using their virtual reality solution would deliver “accelerated learning” for interns, which would increase their credibility and trustworthiness in the doctors' eyes. And because the interns would enjoy the learning experience, there would be much higher learning efficacy.

After more discussion and ideation, we were led to this three-word Outcome: “Experience without Risk.” I like to refer to this clear, concise statement as a "zinger" of an Outcome.

“Experience without Risk” is a powerful phrase that the sales and marketing organization could go to market with. It provides a strong creative concept for marketing campaigns and account-based marketing outreach, and serves as the core theme of future selling conversations.

Sadly, most B2B organizations have a fundamental blind spot in not articulating the Outcome they promise their target customers – at a company, industry, and solution level. Most are stuck in a product-centric mode that sells features, functions, and benefits instead of a higher-order Outcome.


My challenge to you is to (a) think of the Outcome you are promoting and selling to your customers, and (b) encapsulate that outcome into one, two, or no more than three words. This exercise isn't easy, but the rewards can be quite handsome. Not only will you resonate better with your target customers, but you will differentiate your offering against your product-centric, feature-focused competitors.

ROI Selling- Price Discounting



Bruce Scheer is the CEO of SalesConversation.com, and an author, speaker, and consultant to global corporations and select not-for-profit organizations.

Connect with Bruce at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bscheer/

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Topics: Value Proposition, Market Strategy