Demonstrating value created by products and services remains as important as ever. Some things have changed out there that require an expanded approach.
Buyers are much more informed today and their expectation of the seller has shifted considerably. They have far greater access to product and service information lessening their need and interest for product-focused sales discussions.
Have you hit the margin wall? In Consumption Economics, The New Rules of Tech, the new book by J.B. Wood, Todd Hewlin and Thomas Lah, the authors describe the next generation of technology and how it is driving sales force transformations in company after company. They anticipate the new normal for selling and define the sales requirements for succeeding in the consumption model.
Whether you are transforming a sales force or just trying to create real change in the current team you MUST take a broad approach to value selling. Are you prepared? Probably not. By some estimates, only about 20% of technology sales people have the required skill set.
Executive buyers need sales professionals who can diagnose business problems and prescribe solutions accordingly. Yet, Forrester Research says that executives are having a poor experience: Only 15% of executives believe their meetings with salespeople are valuable and live up to expectations. Now consider this: according to the Sales Executive Council, customers place their Sales Experience at the top of the list (53%) of things that drive their loyalty!
Here are five important steps to changing customer perceptions about your sales team and the business value you create:
1. Take Inventory of Your Sales Talent: The building blocks of the sales force are the sales professionals themselves; therefore, your success starts here.
2. Market Level Value Definition: Among the many areas marketing and sales become misaligned is on the definition of value. Marketing must build compelling market-level value propositions.
3. Defining Effective Success Attributes & Effective Competitive Differentiation: Company attributes often do not differentiate, leaving the customer unmoved. Worse yet, they can frustrate the customer who is sincerely trying to make the best purchase decision.
4. Setting Value Expectations with Executives Early in the Sales Process: Successful value selling is a process not a step in a process. The sales person must set expectations about value, with the right executives, from the start.
5. Value Assessment - Collaborating with the Customer: Defining business value must be a collaborative effort with the customer. Understand the do’s and don’ts to creating a compelling business case.
How can you change direction if you are not moving? The size of the challenge may paralyze you. Ideally, a company would want to address these five areas in the right sequence and thoroughness. However, the dynamic nature of business and the pressure to compete and win won’t allow it. The change process must start somewhere and it is achievable. Balance across all of the areas is more important than mastery in individual areas. So, get moving!
The next editions of Sharpen Your Edge will address each of the five areas. So stayed tuned.