In a traditional sales approach, salespeople ask questions and customers provide answers. When salespeople have identified a problem for which they have a solution, they begin discussing how the unique features and benefits of their product or service meet or exceed the needs of the customer organization. But remember, customers today have access to every single competing offer out there. They can—in fact, they probably already have—compared your products and services to the competitors’ features and benefits. By focusing so heavily on this aspect alone, the traditional discovery process has become insufficient.
David Yesford, Sr. Vice President of Wilson Learning Worldwide, explains: “Selling to value is a discovery process focused on the customer as a business. While traditional selling may focus its intent on solving the customer’s problem, selling to value encourages a different intent—advancing the customer’s business. It requires salespeople to expand their role beyond finding and solving problems to truly wanting to see their customer’s business flourish and grow.”
In their latest e-book, Selling to Value: The New Standard for Sales Discovery, authors Michael Leimbach, Ph.D., and David Yesford expand on the research from their article “Selling to Value: The Art and Science of Discovery.” In a more traditional sales process, discovery is focused on gathering information about customers’ needs and solving a business problem. This traditional needs-based discovery ignores additional sources of value that should be brought into consideration. However, when selling to value, the sales professional partners with the customer to understand their challenges and then aligns the sales offering to the value it creates for the customer’s business. In this approach, the salesperson brings a broader and more informed understanding of the customer organization’s business context into an exploration of the business impact of the customer’s buying decisions. At its core, selling to value is a thorough consideration of how the customer organization creates value for its own customers.
As Dr. Leimbach explains, “This move, from a problem-centered approach to a business-centered approach, may seem easy, but it requires three things: a mindset change that places the customer’s business ahead of your own, new knowledge by exploring how the customer’s business runs, and new skills to follow the customer’s lead to the next question.”