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Value is in the eye of the buyer, and because assessing value is not as simple as it sounds, companies often get this wrong.
Ken Rutsky specializes in helping companies tell their story in a way that connects it to the customer. He says that value is all connected to the stories we tell.
We’re trying to sell something. Essentially what we’re doing is making a trade of the two things they value the most in order of least to more. Money is the thing everybody values, but often buyers value their time even more. They value the time they spend understanding, evaluating, and implementing a solution or a product.
We’re asking our buyers for two rare commodities, so we have to deliver something that is equal to or hopefully greater in value.
As a result, the simple definition of value is what will the customer open his wallet and pay for?
Many sales reps perceive that they are creating value but that may not be the case because assessing value is not as simple as it seems.
Ken said that the biggest mistake sales reps make is overvaluing value. Seems strange to say in a discussion all about value, but it’s true.
If we’re sitting next to each other on an airplane and I’m showing you pictures of my four kids, by the third kid you’ve probably seen enough. We tend to get excited about our goods and services just like we do about our kids. Many times, we want to show the client thousands of pictures of it. We overvalue what they’ll see in it.
Instead, we really need to relate our product to our customers.
Sales doesn’t work the way it once did. Your customer doesn’t need you to tell him about your product. They’ll go to your website and find out everything they ever wanted to know.
In the book Launching to Leading, Ken talks about how salespeople should succeed today. Start by creating that shared context with the customer. Realize, too, that it’s the customer’s context, not yours.
You have to start the conversation about your customer’s world. Come in educated about how you can transform your customer’s world.
In a recent survey of B2B buyers, business buyers ranked product knowledge as the 8th most important factor in the process. They ranked the seller’s ability to understand the buyer’s business as the number one priority.
Number 2 was the ability to teach the customer something he didn’t already know. Don’t enter the relationship with the intent to sell something. Instead, have a conversation about their business, and then teach them something.
Teaching is critical to establishing your value as a salesperson. If the customer isn’t learning from you, he could just as easily go to your website instead. In fact, most customers are 60 percent through the process before they ever want to speak to a salesperson.
Find a teaching opportunity.
Realistically, it is marketing’s job to create the stories, but the sellers are the ones who must deliver them and create context around them.
Marketing is a one-to-many art. Great sales reps show up and contextualize the stories. Understand the story of your product and how it transforms your customers’ business.
You have to do the hard work of understanding all these things. There is no magic shortcut.
Sales leaders must operate with a sense of empathy. Understand that marketing is working hard to provide the stories and the materials. If marketing feels like they aren’t getting the things they need, there’s a shared responsibility to make that connection.
Marketers must have empathy for the pressures and difficulties of selling. Great marketers have empathy for sellers. They understand the need to work as a team.
Leaders must create that environment of empathy across the organization.
Sales reps have to be competent and courageous enough to show the product very early in the sales cycle. Whether it’s a true demonstration or a case study, sellers have to demonstrate value if they want customers to believe it.
Don’t wait six weeks into the sales cycle. Demonstrate early and often. Sellers must have the ability to create and demonstrate their own contexts.
Teach your customer something and then show them how the product can enable the thing you taught him. It can happen in the first call and then it should happen again and again through the process.
The teaching diminishes as the process goes along because the customer already understands the possibility.
Your competition may be showing the products sooner because prospects don’t have the patience they used to have.
Do the homework and understand your customer and everything follows from there. Assessing value is not as simple as it sounds.
“Assessing Value is Not As Simple As It Sounds” episode resources
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