Valid Business Reason

<cshow logged=1 ingroup='sysop'> Hidden content: for an example of a VBR that includes the reworking of an MM client's draft email letter, see this private wiki. </cshow>

'VBR' stands for Valid Business Reason - a term coined by global sales performance leader, Miller Heiman.

Here is a brief explanation, crafted by Miller Heiman...

Before you try to meet with someone, you must ask yourself “What is the reason this person is meeting with me?” At Miller Heiman, we call it a Valid Business Reason.

It gives the potential buyer a reason for spending time with you. Having a Valid Business Reason for every sales call, whether in person or on the phone, is the considerate way of doing business. It tells buyers, no matter how long you’ve known them, that you’ve given some thought to their current challenges and that you’re looking for solutions that are “valid” to them.

Your Valid Business Reason needs to be brief and must clearly state their personal win, while appealing to how they want to be approached. An effective Valid Business Reason makes it easy for the executive to say, “Yes.”

VBRs can be used effectively at various stages of the buyer's journey.

What is a Valid Business Reason?

1. It’s Valid

It’s all about the customer. Valid to customers means it’s worth making time to hear about how you can help solve a problem that keeps them up at night. By their nature VBRs are one-to-one communications- not generic or sent in bulk!

2. It’s Business

Research shows that many sales calls are too general and unfocused to be useful to buyers or sellers. Do your homework and manage your selling time. Understand their business. What are their challenges? What are they trying to fix, accomplish or avoid?

3. It’s a Good Reason

Not your reason. The customer’s reason - for taking time out of a busy schedule for you, rather than spending it on other priorities. Tell the customer what you’d like to meet about and why you think this could be of value. It’s about solutions. How can your solution help what they want to fix, accomplish or avoid. You are specific, because you’ve done your homework. Now, write it down in 25 words or less, so it can be left on a voice mail or with a receptionist. And remember, it’s always from the customer’s point of view. By defining your Valid Business Reason, you’ll never again make a “cold call”.

This article, written by Director (and accredited Miller Heiman trainer, Brett Bonser), explores the concept in greater detail.

Here is another by Founder Hugh Macfarlane using video for the VBR delivery.

What does a great VBR look like?

  • It states the purpose of setting an appointment
  • It lets the person understand who you are and why you’re there
  • Introduces your questioning sequence to focus the meeting and set the scene
  • Impacts the buyer’s concept of the problem
  • Sets the sales call as a high-priority to the buyer
  • Ties to the buying party’s interest
  • States "what’s in it for me" to the buyer
  • Is clear, concise and complete. You should be able to get your message down to about 25 words should you need to leave a voicemail or a note with reception.

Building a great VBR

Think about an upcoming meeting you would like to have with a potential client. What is:

  • Their background? This includes industry, business size, location, competition, business barriers and so on.
  • Their problem? Write down any occurrences of that known problem in their past (for example, an IT disaster).
  • Your purpose? How can you help them? Why should they meet with you?

Getting time in someone’s diary is always going to be a challenge, even when the initiative should to be a high priority for them (in your eyes).

Don’t forget that the method of delivery in which you request an appointment could be influential as well. If you know from a personal coach in your sale that the executive prefers email over phone, or face-to-face communication over voicemail, this will further enhance your ability to secure the meeting.

So, do your homework and ensure your VBR will open the door for you.

Leaving a voice message / voice mail

Recognise that your voice mail needs to be really compelling. The following from Michael Pedone from SalesBuzz:

"{prospect name}, this is {my name} from {my company}. The reason for my call is I have an idea on how to possibly help you avoid {MP says 'specifics of common pain' - we would suggest you make it the specific pain though} and wanted to see if it would make sense for us to have a quick conversation to find out more about it.

"I can be reached at xxxx-xxxx.

"Again, my name is {name} from {company} and my number is xxxx-xxxx.

"Thanks {prospect name}"

Watch this best practice guide on leaving a VBR voicemail:

Guide to following up on a VBR email / letter / video

  • Read VBR content and associated research carefully.

Getting through to the contact:

  1. On most occasions, you’ll have to first speak to a receptionist / personal assistant to get through to the contact you’re after.
  2. Thinking like a buyer, don’t regard this person as a gatekeeper. Instead, they a person who’s tasked with ensuring that only calls that provide value to the contact are put through to him / her. Your job is to demonstrate that your call will deliver such value.
  3. Therefore, prepare a summarised of the VBR content to illustrate why your call will provide value to the contact.

When you get through to the contact

There are a number of possible situations you’ll have to prepare for:

The contact has not received your VBR

  • Prepare by gaining familiarity with the core Valid Business Reason for the meeting until you are confidently able to articulate it without needing to rely on the letter as an introduction.
  • This will likely result in one the three following scenarios.

The contact has received your VBR and is interested to talk further:

  • In this instance, you want to dig deeper into the buyer’s concept of the problem.
  • Ask open ended questions, such as “What about the letter/video/email resonated with you most?”
  • Listen to the answer and use the response to probe further.
  • By the end of the discussion, you want to seek an action commitment for the next step: book in a time for a face-to-face meeting or a follow up phone meeting.

The contact has received your VBR and wasn’t adequately troubled by the content:

  • While the VBR may not have hit the mark, this is a great opportunity to flesh out what the contact is really troubled by and frame the discussion around that… “It was my understanding that x, y, z was a key concern for you, but how is this really playing out in your environment?”
  • If their real priority is revealed in the discussion, use this response to probe further.
  • If applicable, seek an action commitment for the next step: book in a time for a face-to-face meeting or a follow up phone meeting.

Indispensable elements of a cold email template

  • Cold email templates should be precise, to the point, and should prompt the contact person to reach back to us.The effectiveness of your cold email template will be powerful if you incorporate the following tips:
  • Provide a benefit statement and a hint at the action request in the title
  • Evidence your research
  • Hint at a fear of missing out (FOMO) - both their competitor and the global push on your topic
  • Write to more than one person in the company, and tell them all
  • Show your credibility
  • Don't mention your product, only that you can help
  • End with a request

Check out this blog which will guide you on how to write a B2B cold email template, along with our very own cold email template, which was scripted and presented by Hugh Macfarlance, CEO and Founder at [1]

The contact has received your VBR and thinks your discussion will be more relevant to a member of their staff.

  • If this is not the desired outcome, further elaborate the Valid Business Reason for reaching out to this particular contact in his particular role.
  • If you are successful,

- Dig deeper into the buyer’s concept of the problem.
- If applicable, seek an action commitment for the next step: book in a time for a face-to-face meeting or a follow up phone meeting.

  • If this is suited to your VBR strategy (for example, if the intention of your communication was to use the VBR to identify the right role) then still, use this opportunity to identify the contact’s own concept regarding the problem you solve and understand whether they will be a buying influence in the opportunity you hope to uncover.

Some further guidelines

  • Avoid yes or no questions because that’s a quick way to end a conversation and it can be awkward to recover from: i.e.: “Are you troubled by x?” “No”.
  • Get them to do the talking by asking open-ended prompting questions to dig deeper.
  • Practice golden silence.

This is a technique developed by Miller Heiman where the salesperson asks a question and then allows three or four seconds of silence afterwards. When faced with a Golden Silence, buyers will often open up and share an insight that helps both the buyer and the seller get a better grasp on the buyer's needs. Often, this leads to another question (based on the insight) followed by more silence and more insights. In this manner, salespeople are able to guide a meaningful, in-depth, and on-topic discussion that leads to a win-win where the customer's actual problems and needs are identified.

  • Record the conversation or take detailed notes but don’t let this interrupt the flow of the discussion.

Additional Resources