Wherever you are in the world, there are plenty of reasons for customers to either delay buying decisions or focus on solely price when choosing suppliers. In the UK, we have the dreaded Brexit of course, but the world generally is an uncertain place this year!
So, not surprisingly there are 2 key questions that many of the sales teams we work with frequently ask:
- How can I convince my prospects not to delay decisions?
- How do I deal with prospects focusing solely on price?
At the heart of both of these sales challenges is the concept of differentiated value and both of these words are important. If you don’t understand how your service is better (in your prospects eyes) compared to your competitors or can’t translate this into tangible business value to your customer, then you are fighting an uphill battle!
There have been a number of real ‘aha’ moments during our work with sales teams that link nicely to the Sales Challenger research which has been a real inspiration for our work and I thought I’d share a few of these with you, in the form of 3 ‘top tips’ that you could immediately use in your own organisation…
Tip 1: Understand the specific Business Value you could provide each prospect
Of course, most sales professionals can explain the potential benefits a customer can gain from the features of their service. However, from our experience this is often still one step away from the customer seeing the real business value of the offer. For example, a specific technical feature might provide “greater speed” (IT benefit), but this doesn’t immediately translate to a tangible business benefit for the person faced with a buying decision.
The bottom line here is that you might be relying on your immediate contact (in this case say an IT manager) to translate to a CFO / CEO why they should pay a premium price for your solution – and why its important to do it now. Personally, no matter how great your clients are, they are not all great salespeople or influencers! All too often we have seen sales stall because your client’s business can’t see the financial justification, even if your main contact is convinced.
The answer of course is that your sales teams should be able to do that translation for them – e.g. “This reduced latency would mean that potential customers visiting your web site are more likely to stay around, explore your site and buy from you – in fact from talking with your marketing teams, we agreed that the speed we are proposing could increase your sales by over 20%”.
To do this of course, sales professionals need to move their discussion beyond their main contact (who may not even know the end business impact themselves) and explore business issues with senior managers (and decision-makers) in other related functions. There are of course some knock-on benefits of this – as another client recently told their teams during one of our programmes…
“this shift to having business conversations, rather than swimming in the weeds makes selling a lot more fun as well as being more profitable”.
However, it’s not easy to make the shift and learning new ‘consulting’ skills backed up with ongoing coaching from sales managers is vital to make this happen.
Focus your value conversations on areas where you out perform the competition
The key skill in a competitive bid is understanding the decision criteria that prospects are using and then actively influencing these criteria so that they are a clear match to your own strengths.
In the example above – if ‘Reduced latency / Increased Speed’ is an area where you out-perform the competition for this deal, then this is the topic you want to be emphasising. Your clients may see you as strong here – but if they can’t see the tangible business benefits from these strengths, this product advantage is simply not working for you – we call these ‘value sleepers’.
So, the trick here is to make sure you clearly articulate the tangible business benefits to be gained from those areas the prospect already sees as competitive strengths of yours
Clearly and Powerfully Articulate the Business Value
OK – so your sales teams now understand the business impact of their solution but this is still only going to work for you if you can articulate the message consistently both verbally and in writing and in a variety of situations – including:
- 1-1 discussions with technical and business heads
- Written proposals and quotations
- Pitches and presentations
Essentially, how do you structure your compelling value proposition and make it memorable? Well, in recent workshops we have developed a (very!) simple model to help sales professionals structure the way they talk about their proposition…
This structure is the basis of our full Value Map © tool, which allows both sales and marketing executives to clearly and succinctly bring out the real differentiating business value of your solutions. If you would like a complimentary version of the Value Map, together with instructions for its use, then click here
Summary: Don’t talk price – talk value
Consistently – in every document and conversation. Think about wearing a ‘trusted consultant hat’ rather than coming across as a transactional salesperson – this is best achieved by completely avoiding talking (or writing) about your company and solution until you have ‘earned the right’ to do this by first showing you understand your customers business needs. A difficult discipline for many sales professionals but one that can be learned and sustained.
Greenbank and Selling on Value
Over the last 17 years, we have worked with sales organisations of all shapes and sizes to develop and sustain a new customer-oriented approach to selling – changing the focus of their sales conversations, proposals and pitches, with tangible, measurable results. If you would like to explore how Greenbank might support your own organisation, we would be delighted to begin the conversation….Get in touch