Revenue Leader Rachael Hawkey of True FitBuyers tune out and lose interest when they hear a generic product discussion that is not aligned to their goal and priorities.  

On the other hand, a product presentation can delight and engage buyers when it shows we listened and understood their goals.

Rachael Hawkey, True Fit’s Area Vice President of Sales for the East Region, saw an opportunity to help her team better align their product discussions to each buyer’s individual goals.  Rachael’s journey shows how a revenue leader can help their team be more successful with authentic buyer conversations that puts a buyer’s goals first and draws only the product and marketing content that map to these goals.


Rethinking the Product Presentation

“My team has access to great content,” Rachael told me when we first met. “They have case studies with very clear ROI outcomes, compelling thought leadership white papers and value-added industry benchmarks. But, I’m not sure how well they are really using this content in their buyer conversations.”

“Is it that they are not using the content at all? Or not using it as effectively as you think they could?” I asked. “In my work with go-to-market teams, I have seen both be a challenge.”

Rachael paused to reflect. “You know, each of my team members definitely has a couple of case studies and data benchmarks that they use consistently, but it feels like they use the same ones over and over.  Sometimes it lands, sometimes it seems to distract from the business case we are trying to make to the customer.”

“That’s pretty common,” I said.  “The product demonstrations and discussion of customer case studies given by sales teams are often far too generic.  The team member presents a standard  run through of the product or case study rather than mapping the product back to a buyer’s specific goals and targeted payoffs.”

True Fit offers an AI-driven retail platform that personalizes every step of a consumer’s retail journey for footwear and apparel brands, helping shoppers find the right products, styles and sizes.  True Fit’s buyers are footwear, apparel, and retail companies that want to leverage personalization to improve the overall consumer experience.  Those companies use True Fit technology primarily on their customer-facing websites to aid buying decisions and drive loyalty.

Through its retail company clients, True Fit serves almost 200 million retail consumers who use the True Fit recommendation engine to guide their shopping experience.  TrueFit, in turn, uses data from this large group of retail consumers to continuously expand and evolve its industry-leading Fashion Genome, which combines this data with data on more than 17,000 brands to drive its unique recommendation engine.


True Fit Develops Value Narratives

“Now that I think about it, the way we use product materials and case studies may not be serving us well,” said Rachael. “Our product demos and content assets are often presented as stand-alone resources not well linked to buyer goals.  We have access to this large group of retail consumers to build an amazing dataset and generate rich and detailed content marketing for our sales team.  I would like to see our product discussion, case studies and other content assets link to specific revenue goals for each buyer.”

“You have a very experienced and capable sales team, skilled at facilitating leadership-level conversations across multiple departments at buyer companies,” I said.  “They could probably benefit a lot from building a set of True Fit value narratives that make it easier to tell a story for each buyer about how your platform helps to achieve their specific goals for retail personalization.”

“That sounds interesting,” Rachael responded.   Can you say more about how value narratives work?”

“A value narrative is a framework to link each buyer’s specific goals to True Fit’s most aligned capabilities and client success stories,” I said. “For each buyer goal area, there are a set of discovery questions that guide a conversation to clarify the buyer’s goals, gaps to goal achievement, and gains from goal achievement.   With clarity on a buyer’s specific goal, the value narrative then provides capability talk tracks and client success stories specific to the goal area.  These present evidence on how True Fit helps with goal achievement.”

“I see,” Rachael said.  “It is a way of really understanding what each buyer wants out of conversation with us, so we can then share the right product capabilities, content assets, success stories, and so on.”

“That’s right,” I said.  “A value narrative leads to much quicker buyer engagement because it makes mapping product and company capabilities to a buyer’s specific goals more structured and repeatable.”

“I am wondering if you find that senior salespeople push back on using value narratives. Do they  feel like they are being scripted?” Rachael asked.

“I actually think it’s the opposite,” I said.  “ We call it a ‘value narrative playbook’ not a ‘value narrative script.’  It includes a set of discovery questions and capability talk tracks by buyer goal area, but each individual salesperson needs to find their own voice.  We find the structure helps senior sellers refine their own art of selling.  It frees up a lot of mental energy that supports more individual creativity on building buyer engagement and deal strategy.”

Following this conversation, Rachael, her two other Area Sales Vice President colleagues, and the marketing team began collaborating to build out four value narratives around the ways the True Fit retail personalization platform created value for its company buyers.   The four areas they focused on were:

  • Driving more web traffic through personalized real-time targeting or retargeting of buyers with footwear and apparel offers most aligned to each consumer’s preferences
  • Converting more web browsers to buyers by improving the number of direct product matches appearing in those first three items on webpage that account for 64% of click throughs
  • Reducing returns by an average of 20% or more by getting more consumers size and style preferences right the first time they purchase
  • Increasing lifetime value of retail customers by 3% to 10% with lifecycle personalization that aligns marketing outreach and product offers to engage the most profitable customers



Value Narratives Guide Better Content Choices for Sales Conversations Focused on Buyer Goals

A few weeks after the value narratives project was complete, I was on a call with Rachael again.

“How is it going with using the four value narratives identified by the sales and marketing leadership team?” I asked. “Are you having each of your team members identify specific discovery questions, capability talk tracks and content assets from the value narratives?”

Rachael smiled and retrieved a piece of paper from her desk.  It was a one-page sheet of discovery questions.  She held it to show me a bunch of yellow highlights.   “I asked each of my Account Executives to print out the same document and highlight in yellow their top discovery questions by buyer goal area.  I wanted them to take ownership.   Then I asked them to prep these questions for each prospect conversation and said I wanted to hear those questions in our next call with the prospect.”

“That’s great that you’re asking them to take ownership of the discovery questions,” I replied.  “And is coming up with their own questions by value narrative also helping them to pick the most relevant content examples?”

“Overall, I’m finding my team using content assets much better aligned to goals in each buyer discussion,” Rachael said.  “They are consciously using the value narratives by buyer goal area to make better content choices, refine the slides they pick for their sales deck and tailor assets they send with their follow up emails.”

“And, did the senior sales people find that this framework felt too scripted?” I asked.

“As you suggested, it was the opposite,” Rachael said.  “I think they saw really quickly that the framework made it easier to prepare and follow up on their buyer meetings with the right questions and content.  It freed up time and mental space to focus on the strategy for each call.”



How to Build Deal Momentum by Mapping to Your Buyer Goals

The True Fit example shows several key best practices for building deal momentum by mapping your product discussions and demonstrations to your buyer goals and targeted payoffs.  To help your team map product discussions and demos to buyer goals, here are a few diagnostic questions you can review with your team:

  • Have you developed product capability talk tracks aligned to buyers’ key business goals?
  • Are your customer success stories and content assets linked to these business goals?
  • Do you coach your sales team to prep each important call by identifying the success stories and content assets that might be most relevant to the buyer’s goals?
  • Do you coach your sales team to show active listening skills? Do they start their product discussion or demo with  phrases like “I heard you say…” or “You shared X goal, let me show how we help with that.”?

If you can keep your team from pitching your product and instead get them to share only the aspects of your product and company story that align directly to your buyer’s goals, they’ll thrill and delight your buyers in ways that accelerate deal velocity and momentum.