By Jim Hughes, Founder and Managing Partner, Quick Start Strategies

Let’s try an experiment.  Randomly pick 2 to 3 of your best sales people and ask them to answer the following question “Why are our prospects far better off with our solution than those provided by our competitors?” Align their answers to a specific opportunity or two. Really listen to what they say. Listen for objective versus subjective proof points. How defensible is their positioning? Could you substitute a competitor and say the same thing?

Every sales team knows they must differentiate their solution.  Easier said than done.  It’s not just getting a meeting, regurgitating marketing pablum, and presenting a proposal. That may have worked when the cost of capital was at historic lows, and spending was robust, but the pendulum has certainly swung back to an environment that requires proof of value.

You might be thinking, ah, but we have these wonderful case studies that prove our value. Your case studies get you into the conversation and validate that you deserve to be considered.  But note that your competitors undoubtedly also have similar case studies that they can add to the pile.

Barry Schwartz points out in his book, “The Paradox of Choice”, that the greater the number of available options, the greater the likelihood that more than one of those options will look appealing – and the more likelihood that too many options will result in analysis paralysis. That’s the paradox: more choice, more anxiety.

So, what to do? In the words of Annie Duke, author of “Thinking in Bets” (a great book IMHO), she talks about success though ‘framing.’  ‘Framing’ is the process your prospect goes through to rationalize any purchase decision. You, and your sales teams, can assist by constructing a narrative that supports how your solution aligns to your prospects desired outcomes - i.e. why they are ‘far better off’ with your solution. 

Enter The Fact Sheet

Throughout my career I have sat in innumerable board meetings, and when it comes to review of capital expenditure there are always more requests to spend then approvals. For those that are rejected there is often a direct negative correlation between how complicated the explanation of benefits are to the funding requested. Simple and straight forward is in fact better.

A Fact Sheet is a one-page summary of the value your prospect will receive from purchasing your solution in simple, easy to understand language, that articulates:

  • Why: the prospect will be ‘far better off’ once your solution is implemented
  • What: they achieve by deploying your solution(s)
  • Why now: measurable qualitative and quantitative benefits of deploying now

The Magical Impact

Over the past 6+ years every QSS client has adopted Fact Sheets as foundational in their sales process.  Each Fact Sheet is personalized and outlines the value proposition the client will achieve through the deployment of your solution. Its key is to begin formulating a Fact Sheet with your prospect’s input early in the sales cycle at a sales stage such as “Needs Analysis”, but it's never too late. (see below)

The earlier you can frame your prospect’s ‘why, what, and why now’, the better your sales teams will be in prioritizing top opportunities, improving win rates, and reducing sales cycles.*

*Note: if your key prospect stakeholders are unwilling to review your Fact Sheet -DEFCON 1 alarms should be going off.

The Fact Sheet is for your prospect to get approval and funding for your opportunity by:  

  • Clearly and concisely stating the business benefits and value they will receive
  • Aligning internal stakeholders and identifying any potential misalignment
  • Validating that your buyer team is in the right sales stage of your defined sales process

A Fact Sheet’s Value Cannot Be Overstated

At a minimum it requires communication and collaboration around your proposal – highlighting the value of your proposal in your prospect’s unique lexicon. Just like anything, practice makes perfect. The first few Fact Sheets will require concentrated effort, but when done correctly, will create a consistent framework that validates and differentiates the ‘why, what, and why now’ of your solution.

To learn more about how you can use Fact Sheets or to receive an example of one, please feel free to contact me at