Salespeople are often told to “sell the value,” but what does that mean?
Precious little—especially when ceaseless technological advances and rapid marketing shifts drive customers to rethink their priorities and what will help them drive their business forward.
Consider the following scenario:
A salesperson had worked with her customer contact for several years, helping him leverage her leading-edge technology to deliver on key business goals. She built a solid working relationship and became her customer’s resource for insights—and relied on her customer for new opportunities.
When the customer put a new project out for bid, the salesperson wasn’t concerned; she was certain that he did so only to satisfy procurement’s requirements. She presented her proposal with anticipation, satisfied that her solution was on target and her pricing was competitive.
A week later, she received a call from her customer. She picked up his call with enthusiastic confidence, sure that he would ask her team to start implementation soon. Instead, he said they’d chosen a vendor that offered “better value.”
The salesperson was stunned. Her customer always told her how much he prized her company’s quality, reliability, and service.
What she didn’t know—but her competitor did—was that the buying committee was led by a finance director, who was concerned about capital expenditures, and the COO, who was concerned about minimizing operational disruptions. When balanced against these overriding interests, the salesperson’s high service levels, while nice, were irrelevant.
In short, she lost because she didn’t understand what the customer organization as a whole valued most.
When has this happened to one of your salespeople?
We say when—not if—because all salespeople get blindsided at least once in their career. That’s hardly surprising. Data shows that when customers tell salespeople they appreciate their work, they mean it. In a study conducted by the Peppers & Rogers Group, 80 percent of customers described themselves as “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their current vendor—just before they switched to a new one.1
What gives? And—more importantly—how can you make sure this doesn’t happen to your team?