Pat leaves a meeting with her long-term customer (or, should we say, her former customer) and wonders where she went wrong.
“Pat, we’ve done business together for a long time,” her customer told her. “But we have decided to go in a different direction.” The customer went on to explain that ABC Company, one of Pat’s biggest competitors, had worked with them to integrate ABC’s solution into the customer’s systems, resulting in faster inventory turns with fewer shipping errors, and they had been able to demonstrate how this would increase margins and profit.
How did this happen? The ABC Company’s salesperson sold value; Pat did not.
If you’re like most sales leaders, your team probably has the same difficulty Pat experienced. For many salespeople, it can be tough to have the kind of business conversations with executives that result in wins.
If you want your salespeople to have conversations prospects find valuable, then your team needs to learn the Selling to Value™ approach. Selling to Value (what we call S2V™) focuses on aligning your conversations with executives’ priorities and the business value your company creates for their customers.
The most challenging part of S2V is in the Discovery phase, during which the natural tendency of salespeople is to focus on uncovering the specifications and requirements that lead to the salesperson’s product or service. The traditional approach to Discovery is to ask leading questions that direct the conversation toward your pitch. This approach allows the salesperson and the customer to address a need. There is nothing wrong with that and, in fact, it often works well.
In today’s marketplace, however, sales organizations need an approach that focuses on advancing the customer’s business to be competitive and remain relevant. They must shift from the needs-based approach to more of a Selling to Value approach – an equal dialogue between a salesperson and a customer. An S2V conversation creates a vision that defines the customer’s desired situation. To have a value-creating conversation with executives, salespeople need three key capabilities:
- Salesperson’s intention: Recognizing that the purpose of a business is to solve a problem in the marketplace, salespeople need to come to the Discovery conversation not with the intent to sell something but with the intent to help the buying executive create new value for their customers.
- Understand the science of value creation: The conversation must be structured around questions that demonstrate the salesperson’s understanding of the executive’s business, not the salesperson’s product. A conversation centered around the core elements of how the organization creates value for their customers moves the salesperson closer to creating value with the executive.
- Practice the art of asking the next question: Value is created not when a salesperson asks a Discovery question, but when the salesperson leverages his or her knowledge of the business with the executive’s experience to ask the next question that expands the conversation toward value creation.
By understanding how to create value with your customer, you strategically connect to your client’s business and hold a competitive advantage. If you think value creation discussions with executives will bring your company more sales and profit, focus your energy on developing these three capabilities of S2V in your salespeople.
To learn more, download our ebook, Selling to Value: The New Standard for Sales Discovery or visit WilsonLearning.com.