For years I have been asking this same question of sales VPs, managers, and reps to discover the barriers blocking them from achieving greater sales effectiveness. I’ll share their most common responses in a moment, but first I want to point out that each of their answers can be addressed by the same powerful solution.
There is a single foundational sales competency that, when constructed properly, leads inevitably to greater sales success. That competency is simply: building and selling value.
Every salesperson, manager and executive analyze their performance differently, and therefore answers to my question run the gamut. So much so, I had to expand my list of answers to the TOP 40 most common answers provided by the thousands of sales professionals I’ve interviewed over the years.
While these answers pertain to areas of struggle, they also identify clear metrics by which sales professionals and business leaders measure performance. Here are our TOP 40 answers collected over the years, in no particular order:
- Raise my price point
- Reduce or eliminate negotiations
- Minimize discounting
- Capture new market share
- Drive product innovation
- Increase customer retention
- Improve competitiveness
- Expand buyer budgets
- Improve customer diversification
- Engage more decision-makers
- Reduce competitive bids
- Improve accountability
- Increase gross margins
- Stop giving away my expertise
- Improve estimating
- Minimize scope creep
- Improve forecast accuracy
- Decrease employee turnover
- Run better sales meetings
- Improve capacity utilization
- Improve sales coaching
- Produce more qualified leads
- Improve team selling
- Write better proposals
- Improve closing skills
- Accelerate speed to market
- Improve brand differentiation
- Collect more references/referrals
- Improve our Net Promoter score
- Ask more/better questions
- Improve brand positioning
- More effective marketing tools
- Sell more “must-have” solutions
- Improve time management
- Closer partner relationships
- Improve channel performance
- Grow recurring revenue
- More consistent win rates
- Shorten sales cycles
- Accelerate growth
Do any of these responses mirror your own? It is interesting, though not surprising, that each of these TOP 40 changes and/or performance metrics can be directly connected to the impact of building and selling value in the early stages of your sales cycle.
People don’t buy what you sell. They buy the impact of what you sell.
Certainly, buyers expect to understand your offering and how it maps to their unique requirements (i.e. WHAT you sell), but only after they have determined if your offering will deliver the larger goals and measurable value they require to even consider the purchase in the first place (i.e. the IMPACT of what you sell).
After all, it is the measurable impact of a buying decision that ultimately determines how much time and money your customer will invest in solving their problem. This is NOT to be confused with the features or capabilities of your solution.
For instance, if your goal is to raise your average price point by 1%, it is much easier to simply reduce your average discount by 1% than lobby your product-service team to expand the capabilities of their solution. Building value is less about innovating or transforming the solution you offer. It’s more about innovating or transforming the way you understand your customer. After all, people don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy the IMPACT of what you do.
In other words, the key to connecting value to your own sales performance is to stop selling solutions and start delivering value.
Taking Control of Growth
When you are able to understand and expand the weight of a buyer’s problem and show how your recommendation alleviates their burden (or enables their vision), you transition from simply offering solutions to delivering value. You shift from playing a traditional sales role to playing a modern leadership role. You transform from being perceived as a salesperson to being experienced as a Growth Multiplier.
Modern, customer-centric selling goes beyond filling a void with new capabilities. You must also demonstrate the significance of your offering by helping your buyer feel the economic, strategic and personal IMPACTS it will have on them and their organization.
People buy when their goals or the goals of their organization demand change. Whether a buyer commits to change or not depends upon the calculated value of achieving identified goals. The price of a potential solution, therefore, is always secondary to the IMPACT (or value) change will bring to a buyer.
For this reason, the most efficient and effective buying conversations start by addressing the buyer’s reason for change, i.e. the goals they seek from a new or different approach to addressing their problem.
Discussing what a buyer WANTS before exploring their NEEDS optimizes both the buyer’s and seller’s time. It shrinks buying and selling cycles, and ensures every deal in the seller’s pipeline is associated with a qualified buying decision.
And, a rapid and high-value buying decision is reached by comparing the calculated economic, strategic and personal IMPACTS of delivering those identified goals with the proposed price of your recommended SOLUTION.
This is why the traditional method of selling solutions without first building value produces so many TOP 40 challenges for sales professionals.
Value sellers create value buyers who appreciate the clarity and confidence of the value seller’s leadership. Of course, not every buyer can be converted, but even traditional price buyers think twice when asked, “Is your goal a lower price or a more successful project?”. Even if the low-price buyer answers “Both”, the value seller has earned the right to explore the IMPACT of the problem the buyer faces before describing his or her solution.
To learn more about how we recommend sales and customer-facing teams build and sell value, click here. You can also join us for an upcoming event, or reach out to set up a quick conversation. We are happy to help.