The Challenge: Differentiating from a sea of Financial Services Providers
Governments and non-profits have special financial needs, and as a result, most leverage independent financial advisory firms to conservatively manage their investments, maintain compliance, deliver performance reports and properly plan budgets to assure cash on hand.
Every few years, contracts to manage these funds go out for bid. The process is competitive and it’s hard to prove superior value versus the incumbent and differentiate from the other firms participating in the presentation and bidding process.
PFM Financial is one such independent financial advisory services firm that throws its hat in the ring for many of these bids. For over 40 years PFM has been providing expert, unbiased advice to government, education and non-profit clients across the United States, and is a recognized leader.
Steve Alexander, Managing Director and Partner in the PFM Group’s Orlando office has 30 years of investment and financial management experience, and has participated in hundreds of bids.
He has seen it all, however, the past few years he noticed prospects becoming much more price sensitive and risk averse. “We were having much more difficulty getting our unique value across in our presentations, and because price was a greater consideration, this was more important than ever”, says Steve.
The Opportunity: From Us to Them
As part of the bidding process, the PFM team and all candidate advisory firms are asked to present to the selection committee / board of advisors. If you have ever sat in on one of these sessions, after a while, all the presentations blend together.
All of the financial advisory firms provide similar solutions and instruments, so product differentiation is difficult. The firms are very proud of their teams, their history and past performance, so the majority of the presentations are all about the firm, with little if anything about the agency / group they are presenting to and the unique challenges they faced.
Steve happened to get a copy of The Frugalnomics Survival Guide from a friend, and immediately realized that following the books advice could have a big impact.
“If we could follow the advice and change around our presentations and proposals to not be about our firm but about the prospect challenges, we could stand out and differentiate”, says Steve.
The Solution: CLOSE more deals
To flip the approach around, from inwards-out to outward-in, PFM engaged with Alinean.
First Alinean conducted a collaborative on-site workshop with the PFM team, to determine key buyer challenges PFM could address, and how best to educate buyers on these issues.
Steve indicated that, “the Alinean team was able to quickly focus my team on the most important buyer challenges we should be focusing on, and the differentiating value we deliver to help buyers address these challenges.”
Following the Alinean CLOSE methodology, Alinean analysts built a Value Matrix™ messaging framework for the PFM team, codifying the challenges and value. For each challenge, the Value Matrix documented specific content, documenting the Challenges, Loss, Opportunity, Solution, and Evidence – a guide on exactly how to flip the strategy from “Why PFM?” to “Why Change / Now?”.
“Before this, no one has provided a roadmap to our certified financial managers knew how to manage, but not necessarily how to present”, says Steve. “The Alinean CLOSE messaging provided our team with a roadmap, to shift customer conversations that were all about us, to all about our prospects.”
To bring the value messaging to life, Alinean worked with the PFM team to create a new value-based presentation deck, to help fuel more client-centric presentations, as well as a set of provocative, challenge focused infographics, to use in grabbing prospect attention and as a value-centric leave behind.
PFM purchased books for each team member, and trained their team on the new Value Matrix, Go-To-Market deliverables and approach.
The Results: A 100% win rate
Leveraging the new CLOSE methodology and presentations in their prospect pitch decks and proposals, the PFM team immediately noticed a significant change.
“In the past, prospects would sit back because they always new what was coming. With our new CLOSE method presentations, you could see the body language change. The audience was engaged from the start, and asked many more questions”, says Steve.
And better were the tangible results. “Since we introduced the new presentations and CLOSE methodology, we haven’t lost a deal yet,” Steve added.
With a modest investment in the workshop, Value Matrix and Go-To-Market kit from Alinean, the PFM team was able to completely reengineer their approach, distancing their engagements from typical and differentiating their value from competitors.
The Alinean marketing and sales tools have had a tangible and significant impact on growing the business from existing offerings, and from new product launches. Launching a new fund, the PFM team was able to leverage CLOSE and the Alinean tools to achieving $1 billion under management in record time.
“I would definitely recommend the Alinean methodology and approach, but at the same time, want to keep it all our own.”
PFM Financial Highlights
- Transitioned team quickly from Features to Value
- Turnkey sales messaging & Go-To-Market kit
- 100% competitive win rate since implementing Alinean
- Launched a new fund and achieved over $1 billion under management in record time