Transmitting Value: Reduce the Noise, Turn up the Signal!


Great value propositions need to be transmitted as clearly as possible. How many times have our best pitches gotten lost in the process of being conveyed to the customer? To understand why that happens, we need to understand the difference between “signal” and “noise.” Everything that we convey is either one or the other–a zero sum game. Therefore, we can also establish “ratios” on signal to noise for every message that we send. Achieving a consistently high “signal to noise” ratio is the name of the game…

“Signal” is the pure essence of the message, “noise” is everything else. Far too often, we assume that the recipient can figure out which is which–big mistake. In a world where everyone is constantly bombarded with messages, and coping with “information overload”, it’s only natural for almost anyone to tune out as much noise as possible. Getting a clean signal through that environment is a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Customers get a lot of noise from a lot of sources on a regular basis.

A signal is relatively short, while noise is excessively long. That makes sense, right? But guess what? By definition, most of our messages are way too lengthy, thereby allowing them to be mistaken for noise. Think about how you react to a short voice mail as opposed to a long one. The same applies to emails. This is especially true when the sender is someone that we don’t know very well. Sometimes, we almost have a knee jerk reaction to lengthy messages…that puts them in the “noise file” without even listening or reading them.

A signal prompts someone to take specific action, while noise simply does not. Think about an NFL quarterback about to snap the ball. A fair amount of what you hear is “noise” just to distract the defense–but the teammates are listening for the actual signals that will define the upcoming play. We are all conditioned to listen and look for signals. It can be as simple as a traffic light or an oven timer or an alarm clock–all signals that we know and hopefully respect. Your value proposition should be transmitted in a “signal” fashion too.

If we don’t send a clear signal, we have no reason to be disappointed with the lack of desired results. As salespeople, we often blame our customers/clients for not taking the action or making the decision that seems “obvious” to us. Next time that happens to you, take a moment to ask your customer/client if he/she had a clear idea about what you were trying to convey. It’s a fair bet that you’ll find that there was some “confusion” that came into play. “Noise” causes confusion. If your customer/client says that they had a clear understanding of your message, and chose to do otherwise, then you can move on to having a dialogue about what terms and conditions still need to be addressed. So asking the question about the quality of your signal will give you useful information no matter what the response from your customer/client.

Work on enhancing your signals with your team members before you transmit them to your customers and clients. Those dry runs will help clarify and refine with no downside risk. Once you’re engaged in the actual process, there’s no second chance. So do whatever it takes to get that critical signal right the first time. You’ve worked hard on your value proposition, give it the launch that it rightly deserves!