Today's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball.
Recently, I spoke to an audience of sales leaders at the EcSell Institute’s Spring Coaching Summit. My topic, as it has been many times this year, was “The 4 Keys to Selling Value.” My presentation was filled with snafus. My movie clip didn’t play, my slides only showed the graphics but not the bullet points, and I fell off the stage (landed on my feet, but still!). Because of the technical issues (thank you, Office 2016 for Mac Preview – you suck!), my audience was more engaged, and more appreciative, than I could have expected. Thank you, everybody!
The interesting part for me came at the end, when I asked the audience, “How many of you believe that your salespeople are doing a good job selling value?” One hand went up. This despite the fact that exactly none of these companies sell on price. Low price leaders almost never attend conferences like these because they could send chimpanzees out to do their bidding. On the other hand, companies that are attempting to sell value need their salespeople to be effective.
Next, I asked them whether they thought the reason was because of:
- Sales processes that don’t support value selling
- Sales tactics that aren’t the best choices for value selling
- Sales strategies that don’t support value selling
This time, I had a few hands for each choice – but most of the 100 or so hands did not go up.
They aren’t sure what the real reason or combination of reasons might be.
The problem is that – as ill suited as many salespeople are for selling value – their sales managers and sales leaders are even more unprepared to identify the issues and help. That leaves us with a scenario similar to a drought. If we don’t have enough water, and no relief is in sight, we must begin to make compromises. We can’t water lawns, wash cars, or water flowers.
In selling, lack of understanding around value means we can’t depend on reps to sell value, uphold pricing, and maintain margins. So, when a great opportunity presents itself and the prospect needs better pricing to choose us, we make an exception.
What’s wrong with that?
It violates the first rule of strategy for selling value – no exceptions. When you make an exception, a number of things occur:
- You show the prospect or customer that you will drop the price
- You show your salespeople that, when push comes to shove, you will drop the price
- You get used to using price as a crutch to land deals
- You develop a reputation for coming through with the required pricing
It’s one thing to state that you want your salespeople to sell value, but, if you can’t help them become value sellers, you don’t recruit salespeople who have value selling capabilities in their sales DNA, and you make exceptions to the number-one strategy rule of value selling, it’s all a farce. You aren’t really a value provider at all. You’re just like everyone else, and are using price as a crutch.
To learn more about value-based selling, watch my video interview with Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO of Selling Power.