“Buyers are treating us as a commodity”
“Its all about Price, Price, Price”
“We aren’t competitive at that price point”
Given how often we have heard these statements over the last few years, I would be surprised if they were not common phrases within your sales team.- even in complex sales, we find that customers are increasingly focused on price. So – why is this particularly difficult to combat in the current virtual sales world?
The Virtual Challenge
Buyers are increasingly equipped to drive a ‘race to the bottom’ on price. Price transparency is greater than ever and the prevalence of virtual meetings (which is likely to become the norm) make it very easy for customers to speak to several suppliers quickly – diluting your USP and putting pressure on your sales team.
In addition, the perceived time pressures of back-to-back virtual calls can lead to more transactional sales experience which, unless your sales staff are well equipped, can make it difficult to have a consultative value-based conversation…
The results of not communicating value can be significant and include:
- Sales stagnating early in the pipeline because your customers aren’t seeing value in change.
- Price discussions happen too early- before the salesperson has had the chance to build differentiating value.
- Decision criteria is focused more on price as customers fail to see suppliers as offering anything different from each other.
3 Top Tips for Value Based Business Conversations
1 Really understand the end business value you create.
I’ve been surprised by how few companies have made a structured attempt to understand the true value of their products and services to their customers. At the core of this is the question “so what?” If my product can provide quicker real time information, then so what? Looking beyond the technical benefit to the actual end business (or personal!) benefits will help you justify your solution.
3 Steps will help you to achieve this
- Understand what is the real differentiating factor of your solution & company – E.g. dedicated project management, latest technology, advanced user-interface, proven track record etc…
- Ask So What? What will this differentiating factor give them? E.g. better management information, less duplication, faster data, better skilled staff etc
- Ask So What again! Now think of it from a CFO’s viewpoint: Clarify the economic benefit: How will your customers’ business benefit from using your product – in the private sector this normally means increasing revenues or saving cost. For public sector clients it can be delivering against targets. Make sure this is the end business result that a senior executive would buy into and put numbers against it – and ideally what the client has already told you!
2. Engage effectively at the right level
This has got to start from how your salespeople come across, the type of conversations they have and who they have them with. As Tony Hughes, in his RSVP Selling book stated, “In selling, we are delegated down to the people we most closely sound like – and this means that salespeople need to learn the language of leadership if they want to engage at senior levels. They need to be equipped in discussing the business case, delivering outcomes and managing risk”. Consider equipping your salespeople with the right personal and business skills via coaching or more formal development – and then make sure that managers support this via coaching and internal pipeline opportunity discussions.
3. Be sincerely curious about your customers
Once you are selling at the right level, don’t fall into the trap of assuming you know exactly what your customer values in a solution and how exactly they will measure this. Instead become an expert questioner – drilling down to really understand what ‘quality’ or ‘risk’ means to them and maybe even getting them to put some numbers around this.
Finally – for sales leaders – align your culture and reward mechanisms
There is no point in encouraging sales teams to be high margin Value Based salespeople if you then reward them as transactional sellers. You may need to change your company’s emphasis from revenue to margin and reflect this in your salespeople’s pay. Accredit salespeople as Certified Value Based Sellers and pay them accordingly. In short, develop a company culture that acknowledges and rewards Value Based Selling!
Some Final Words – and how we can help…
Leveraging relationships, rapport and improved value is often not enough to create a win-win outcome, hence why we have highlighted why we think preparing is such an important part of the process.
Through Greenbank’s training courses, our clients have seen significant, attributable improvement in both recurring revenue and strength of client relationships. Every team is different, with complex strengths and weaknesses if you think your team could benefit from stronger negotiation skills please get in touch for a non-obligation chat, or sign up for one of our free taster workshops!
Greenbank are an innovative global training and coaching consultancy, focusing on leadership, sales and negotiation skills development, all 100% relevant to today’s business world. We offer a truly blended learning approach via virtual interactive training and when possible, face-to-face workshops (remember them???)