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One of my rules for Champion sales people is that nobody buys anything unless there’s a gap between where they are and where they want to be. To effectively sell value, sales people need to engage the prospect in a proper discovery process first to uncover what’s important to them and why. It is only with this understanding that the sales person can effectively tailor a presentation to fit the customer.


Businesses lose tens of thousands of dollars in revenues and profits each year because their sales people do not effectively sell the value of their product and/or service offerings. In fact, having evaluated hundreds of sales organizations approaches first-hand, I would say this is the rule and not the exception.

As an example, not too long ago I was evaluating one of my software clients’ web-based demo’s, literally sitting in and observing the process and interaction between my sales trainee and his prospective clients – 6 members representing the key decision-makers for the potential purchase of the company’s software program in attendance.
My client’s software product itself has approximately 28 features and functions, most (if not all) with their own snazzy text box, highlighted navigation button, and “gee-wiz” inducing display.
All was very well early on, with my trainee showing three functions that they had previously discussed in an earlier conversation. These were three shots up the middle with men now on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. No outs.
Then an interesting but unfortunately not too uncommon phenomenon in the software sales profession occurred: My trainee made the sale, went right by the sale, and lost the sale. ALL in the span of 95 minutes! Remarkable really. Here’s what happened…
Right around feature/function 12, there were more hits then outs with the prospective client agreeing that the vast majority of what they had seen (so far) was great, to the point of one person exclaiming “this is exactly what we need”! You don’t need to be a sales analyst to determine that’s a pretty good buying signal.
It was at this time, it became quite apparent that my trainee was not sold, had a lot more that he had to show and, regardless of the client’s needs, wants, or desires, was determined to talk about and demonstrate all of it.
Then the outs came fast and furious. “We don’t need that”, said one. “That’s not applicable to us”, said another. You could feel the interest deflate as others jumped on the downhill bandwagon… “This is more complicated then I think we need”. “Ya, it’s more then we require right now”. Finally, “I’ll think we’ll pass”. Game Over.
So what went wrong? It’s easy to blame the lack of interactive dialogue, good questions and active listening techniques were certainly lacking. But the bigger problem here, and universally witnessed elsewhere, comes back to selling value.
This was a one-size-fits-all throw it against the wall and see what sticks presentation. I’ve seen countless others like it that were originated by an initial prospect phone or face-to-face conversation cut short because the sales person says some version of “just let me show you” and moves too quickly to the demonstration without first really understanding the prospects needs and true value areas.
True Value Areas
Value is in the eye of the beholder. In the case of selling anything, it’s the customer’s perceived value that matters, is essential and vital – not the sellers.
In the referenced software sales case, the customer was sold on roughly half of the 22 features and functions presented, and, with an effective selling value process, I’m convinced that they would have purchased for these features and functions alone. The ROI was certainly there to justify this.
Customers don’t want all your stuff! They only want what they perceive and believe will help them. This is especially important to understand in software sales where potential customers can quickly be turned off by features and functions they perceive to be unnecessary and of little or no advantage.
To effectively sell value, sales people need to engage the prospect in a proper discovery process first to uncover what’s important to them and why. It is only with this understanding that the sales person can effectively tailor a presentation to fit the customer.
One of my rules for Champion sales people is that ‘nobody buys anything unless there’s a gap between where they are and where they want to be’. In my Selling Value workshop we break down the feature and functions of the product and/or service offering and use these potential value areas as selling tool whereby the customer can evaluate their existing system against the proposed solution. This sales tool enables customers to measure the gap and determine their true value areas.
Too many sales people leave it up to the customer to determine and decide what they want – but it’s the sales person who is the expert in the industry (the solution), not the customer. By incorporating an effective evaluation tool, the buyer-seller relationship is strengthened by properly positioning the sales person as a consultant/advisor.
In addition, sales people need to know what their competitive differentiators are, the areas that their product-service-business is better-faster-more cost effective than the competition offerings the customer may compare them to.
Once these areas are tied in to the Diagnostic Selling system, sales people have much better control of the sales process, become more efficient and shorten the sales cycle, and ultimately produce better results for themselves and the businesses they represent.

About the author

Steve Ferrante

Steve Ferrante

Steve's professional sales career began in the late 1980's/early 90's with successful sales/sales management…

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