Category Archives: value-based selling

It’s Not About Us & No One Really Needs a Shovel!

Too many selling presentations focus on “what we do or what we offer.”

In other words, if we’re not careful, our presentations are all about us. If we’re not careful, when presenting we focus on  the features of our products or the details of our services, as in:

“We offer the largest, most-advanced…”

“Our support services are the most comprehensive…”

“Our team has an average of over 5 years experience…”

“Our widget comes in six different styles and colors…”

“We provide the fastest turn-around in the industry…”

“Our software solution has the best interface…”

Consider how much more effective it could be if, instead, we make our customers or clients the stars of each presentation!

“Our clients enjoy an immediate surge in productivity, and at least a 5:1 R.O.I. in the first year alone…”

“Our customers increase up-time by 50% on average…”

“The average user of our services experiences a 20-30% boost in sales revenue…”

“On average, organizations using our approach have reduced workforce turnover by half, and have improved the customer experience as well…”

This perspective isn’t new, but it’s often forgotten.

Possibly this is because as our organizations introduce new products and services, or when they make improvements to what we sell, we find ourselves intrigued with the updated versions or the latest developments and, therefore, we are compelled to talk about these things.

But these new features, bells and whistles more often fail to WOW buyers, because buyers are most persuaded by what’s in it for them (W.I.I.F.T.)!

So, instead of telling others about what we do or what we’re offering, it is better to tell them about what they will get!

Tell them how they will benefit and they will become engaged!

Even better, they will want to know more! They will most likely place greater value on our solutions as well, which can help us build stronger value propositions, increase margins, reduce competition, and shorten selling cycles all at the same time!

Of course as simple as this may sound, we realize it’s not easy. The first step will involve a conscious effort to distinguish between features and benefits, and then to modify not only the way we think (i.e., think in terms of the customer and WIIFT) but also how we communicate.

A simple and easy way to get started might be to adopt the following phraseology:

“Because of [FEATURE], you get [ADVANTAGE], which means [BENEFIT]”

By applying this thought process before interacting with customers or prospects we can shift our thinking and, hopefully, our communication style, away from features/price and instead focus on benefits/value by stressing the “which means…” part of the equation.

As the saying goes, “No one ever really needs a shovel…”

(They just need a hole.)

Questions are Often the Answer

questionmarkwordsPeople have a tendency to think about good communication in terms of speaking, but when it comes to sales, business development or sales management, questions are often the key to success.

Consider that in most conversations [interviews, debates, sales calls, performance reviews…] the person asking the questions is the one who controls the conversation.

In addition, if we ask better questions we will get better answers; and because of these answers we will be equipped with better information, which will enable us to make better suggestions, craft more compelling value propositions, or make more interesting presentations.

Similar perspective has been made by Jack Falvey, founder of makingthenumbers.com, who said, “Asking the best question has always been more important than making the best presentations.”

Or as stated by Paul Sloane, founder of Destination Innovation, “Asking questions is the single most important habit for innovative thinkers.”

Be Prepared With a New Focus
If this perspective resonates with you, or if you’d like to put it to the test, make this simple adjustment when preparing for your next sales call, meeting, important telephone conversation, or presentation:

  • Put an equal amount of effort into planning what you will “say” as well as what you will “ask.”

In other words, put the same amount of focus on your questions as you put on your speaking points.

 

What Makes Your Organization Different?

custom_crayon_box_standout_16486What is the one thing your business or organization has that none of your competitors have?

Over the past five years we have asked a great many people in all types of organizations this simple question; and while the answers initially vary, they all ultimately agree that there is only one true and sustainable differentiator…

It isn’t a product or a unique feature of a product, or even a type of service, because these can be too easily emulated. So while a one-of-a-kind product or service might serve as a short-term differentiator, neither represents the best answer.

The simple answer is: YOU!

An organization’s one true and sustainable differentiator is the people within. Collectively the people make-up an enterprise’s personality; they represent the core values, and they represent not “what” an organization does but rather “how” it is done, which ultimately makes all the difference.

Given these realities, making enterprise engagement a cultural choice within your organization is the ideal way of achieving long-term success.

The Order of Things…

readyfireaimDoing things in the proper sequence is often critically-important.

For example, in mathematics we have the standard order of operations. If we’re to reach the right solution our calculations must be performed in the right sequence, which is “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and then Addition and Subtraction.” A common technique for remembering this sequence is the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

Similarly, a good chef will tell you that the key to success when following a recipe is to not only add the right quantity of the right ingredients, but also to do so at the right time.

And as depicted in the image above, if we fail to aim before we fire, we are likely to miss our target!

So… there is an order of things.

And this “order of things” certainly applies to the selling process. Consider this simple but not-always-easy sequence, which helps sales professionals establish personal value, engage their customers, and shorten selling cycles:

  • Sell yourself
  • Sell the company
  • Then sell products and services

Read the full article…

 

“Foreshadow” to Build Value During Sales Calls

fortune_cookie_message2In a recent post we referenced the cardinal selling-sin of making premature presentations during sales calls.

These “premature” presentations sound like old-fashioned sales pitches that are based more on “what we offer” rather than “what you’ll get.”  In other words, they are feature-rich and benefits-poor.

Good Intentions / Bad Results
In many instances, a sales person’s good intentions can lead to a premature presentation. This happens when a buyer’s need or problem surfaces and the seller “rushes” to the rescue by immediately offering a solution.

Despite the good intention, the result is usually bad because the sales person has not taken the time to establish the true value that might well be associated with the solution.  Yet the urge to satisfy the buyer is strong, and can be tough to resist…

A better course of action is to use the technique of “foreshadowing,” which allows the seller to provide some instant satisfaction to the buyer while still holding-off on going too far before confirming that the solution will be the right one and also confirming the buyer’s receptivity level.

A simple method of foreshadowing would involve the sales person saying something like, “Wow! Based on what you’ve just told me I think you’ll really like our solution… but before I tell you about it, can you tell me a little more about the impact of this problem…?”

This approach is truly win-win, as both parties are able to recognize that something good is coming (something of value!), but the seller is still able to probe further into the situation before presenting the solution in full. This enables the seller to uncover or confirm the implications of the need, to measure the buyer’s initial reaction, and hopefully, to quantify the benefits and value that the soon-to-be-explained solution will provide.

If all goes well, the result will be a happy buyer as well as a happy seller!