Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Value Proposition or Value of Customer Expectations?

There is a lot of talk these days in marketing circles about clarifying the "value proposition" of what we sell. Simply put, this means selling the message of what we believe the value of our wares to be. We want the customer to listen. And if they 'finally' hear what we are saying, they will wake up and sign on to an EAP.

But wait. 80% at least of America's employers have EAPs the research says. So where is the market we are trying to coax into the value proposition?

EAPs have long sought to sell the "value proposition". But there is another side of the coin. The customer's needs. Managed care won this sale. To be more specific, the other side of the coin is selling to the value of the customer's expectations, and not the value proposition we possess necessarily. Mark Hunter, a marketing guru talks about this in an article entitled "Value of Customers Expectations" that he sent me.

If you are still with me on this post, let me ask, should EAPs be doing this more? If so would this cause us to shift our focus to different customers who are not using EAPs now? I think yes.

And these customers happen to be in the property casualty insurance industry spectrum. These big boys don't know about EAPs. But my belief is that they could use whatever they could possibly squeeze out of an EAP that would help them reduce risk and exposures associated with the things they insure against. This is not health insurance. It's everything else -- from employment practices liability lawsuits, suits for wrongful termination, discrimination, workers comp, property damage, the works. Imagine full-bore EAPs reducing these payouts. Hey, the average wrongful termination lawsuit is $150K out of court. It's over $500K in court and companies lose 70% of the time. Imagine an employee who didn't sue the company because his behavior or that of the supervisor was mitigated by EAP involvement. That's sounds like the beginnings of a new profession to me.

Mark Hunter is a sales pro. He speaks to thousands of sales people per year. Here's what he says, "We've all heard the rule of listening to what the customer has to say, and there's not a salesperson who thinks they don't listen to the customer.  Reality, however, is quite the opposite.  I find time after time when I'm working with salespeople across any number of industries that the failure to listen is a huge issue."

Hunter adds, "Too many salespeople believe because they know the products they represent much better than the client, they know exactly what the customer will see as real value.  Yes, you as the agent are going to have a general indication of what a typical customer wants. However, when it comes to interacting with a specific customer, you can't rely on a "general indication" of value."

Here's the thing. Businesses wanted lower costs on health insurance. Managed care sold them their solution. EAPs, unfortunately, got in the way without the ability to collectively say "halt".

And, EAPs still aren't doing much to collectively and "officially" point out diminished models of quasi-EAP products that insist on the full title to the word "EAP". I don't see this changing in the new EAP Strategic Plan. I may have read it wrong. If so, I will post my correction if someone lets me know.

Unless this becomes a targeted goal--rejecting products that do not adhere to the spirit and intent of the core technology, along with an ongoing survey and confrontation of freelance writers posting misguided articles about EAPs in over 30 HR and Benefits periodicals, I believe problems will continue. That translates to more suppression of life-saving, risk reducing, fully functioning, loss preventing EAPs in the world of work.
I referenced Mark Hunter above. You learn more about him here: "The Sales Hunter," is a sales expert who speaks to thousands each year on how to increase their sales profitability.  For more information, to receive a free weekly email sales tip, or to read his Sales Motivation Blog, visit You can also follow him on (TheSalesHunter), on (Mark Hunter), and on his Facebook Fan Page,