12 February 2010

Knowing and Explaining Your Value

Today, I'm going to take a moment to write a bit more personal post than most of the professional demand gen topics I cover - but the two areas cross together.

In early December'09, I was laid off from my last company.
This week (Feb '10), I joined my new company.
I was officially unemployed for 69 days.

Most HR and Employment analysts believe that it takes 3-6 months for a professional/manager level person to gain new employment - however, with the soft economy, some predict that it could easily be 6-12 months now. This post is not meant as a "pat on the back" to myself for doing it faster than the industry standards.

In successful demand generation techniques, one must truly understand their solution/service/item's value - and explain it to prospects in a manner that makes sense and addresses their needs. In this case, I was selling myself.

Professionally, I have been successful at selling/marketing whatever my company sold; personally, I was raised as a good Irish Catholic girl that does not boast (heck, even plays down) her strengths. But to fight a sea of other demand gen folks also in the job market, I had to shout my value from the rooftops.

In the course of those 69 days, I learned to refine the ways that I described my previous experience, started to use certain terms that appealed to those I was speaking with, solidified gold references who could vouch for me, and made sure that I was as visible and relevant to employers. I never sent out a generic cover letter or resume - every time, I tried to show my value to an employer in their terms. I got to know their business, their lingo, their culture.

In professional demand generation, the same principles apply. Like the HR manager who sifts through hundreds of "qualified" applicants, companies routinely evaluate numerous vendors for a single purchase. As a vendor, if you cannot articulate your value proposition in the client's perspective, you won't make it past the audition with Simon (just a little American Idol reference). Go home and try again.

A good litmus test for checking your value proposition is to reach out to a friend in a different industry and ask them to read your email/call script/webinar slides - and see if they can explain back to you how your company can help them. I'll bet you'll be surprised at the result.

Personally, I was very lucky to have a strong network of friends and colleagues - and even one "Brigid-evangelist" - in my corner during my job hunt. Without that support, I think that more days would have come off the calendar in my job search. Professionally, I am very lucky to join the fantastic team at Nuxeo - it is exciting to be a part of the industry leader in Open Source ECM software!

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