Asking High IMPACT Questions to Help Buyers Find Value
Being a sales professional in today’s internet savvy, procurement driven, cost conscious environment is extremely challenging. Research suggests that buyers are more informed and typically are well through their own purchase process before you even connect with them. So what can a sales professional do in order to be relevant to buyers? Simple, ask high impact questions to focus the sales conversation on issues that have value for the buyer.
Many sellers assume that the benefits of their solution is implied or obvious to the buyer. But this is a major mistake. Buyers often don’t know what they want and need your help in developing a solution; buyers can also have a difficult time understanding how a seller’s solution will benefit them. We suggest that as a seller you need to systematically explore key potential sources of value with the buyer in order understand how your solution can add value, and be able to quantify, project and add the values together to demonstrate to the bottom line benefit of your solution.
Identifying Value: IMPACT
Here is a simple acronym to help remember where to look to find potential value opportunities for your solution: IMPACT. This stands for Image, Money, Productivity, Advantage, Customer Satisfaction and Total Cost of Ownership. By considering some key questions in each of these areas, we can uncover the two or three biggest value-drivers for your solution and begin the process of quantifying the benefits. The categories and sample questions include:
Image. How will our solution help improve the customer’s image? Think about your customer: Does your product or solution enhance the image of the customer or provide cache, or attract better quality customers?
Money. How will our solution make our customer more money? Can you help the customer add revenue, reduce cost(s), or improve margins?
Productivity. How will our product or solution increase productivity of our customer’s operations? Can we help increase efficiency, improve throughput, or reduce labor costs?
Advantage. How can we help improve the competitive advantage of our customer? Can we help the company compete and win or attract new customers?
Customer Satisfaction. Can our solution improve customer satisfaction, reduce complaints, or improve retention and referral rates?
Total Cost of Ownership. Is the total cost of ownership for your solution superior to the competition? Examples are: reduced maintenance, fewer returns longer life, and/or better quality.
Presenting Your Solution: Quantify, Project, and Add
Once you’ve uncovered a few potential areas where your solution can impact the client, you need to work to quantify what the impact will be. For instance, if your solution will help improve customer service, what might this equate to in terms of increased re-orders and referral business? In another example, if your more expensive solution will last longer and result in fewer service calls for the client, how might this result in a lower Total Cost of Ownership over a period of three to five years? By making assumptions and validating these values with our client you are able to begin to quantify the benefits of our solution.
To develop an overall value proposition, you need to project these values over an agreed to time period to come up with a working number. By doing this in several categories and then adding these values together, you can develop a total, quantified value proposition to present to our client. Once you have a quantified value proposition, you should compare this to the cost of our solution to develop a return on investment and business case for our offering.
Sometimes the numbers don’t work in your favor, or there isn’t enough value in the numbers to justify the customer investing in your offering. What then? In this case you may need to work harder to uncover additional areas where your solution can impact the business or you need to consider whether your solution is really a good fit for the customer. In our experience, there are often additional benefits to be uncovered if you are creative and work hard to develop a good understanding of your customer’s business needs. For example, in addition to the quantified benefits, are there intangible benefits that the customer will value? Intangible benefits will often be the tie-breaker that differentiates you from the competition.
It’s not easy engaging with today’s buyers. One powerful strategy is to focus the sales conversation on value. By helping the customer identify value opportunities, and then quantifying, adding, and projecting those values – you will be well positioned for sales success.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.