A Successful Sales Process to Beat the Competition
I recently spoke with a key account manager at a major pharmaceutical company who shared with me the following anecdote. He was part of a “bake-off” among vendors competing for a major account and presented first. After the second vendor presented, our account manager heard back from the decision maker informing him that he won the business.
A key factor in our account manager winning the deal was that his presentation focused on the key value drivers of the decision maker’s business. In fact, the decision maker told the losing vendor mid-way through his presentation:
"I’ve heard enough. You just spend 80% of your time talking about your company and its products. The last vendor spent 80% of the time talking about my business. And the success of my business is what I am interested in."
So how can your sales presentations result in similar compliments?
Well, selling on value is a great way to structure your selling around your customer’s business. Here is a concise, successful sales process to help you sell on value:
- Search for opportunities
- Analyze the customer’s business operations
- Identify specific values
- Quantify the value.
Let’s take the steps one at a time, starting with searching for value opportunities
#1 Search for Opportunities
This first step may look simple, but it’s often the most challenging part of selling value. You can’t wait for the customer to tell you about a problem or raise a pricing objection. It’s essential to be pro-active and learn your customer’s operation by constantly:
- Asking questions.
- Expanding your organizational contacts and knowledge.
- Identifying where you can add value.
- Observing on-site operations first-hand.
Look for problems or opportunities that enable you to introduce quantified solutions and benefits.
#2 Analyze the Customer’s Business Operations
Now you are ready to analyze the customer’s business using the information you have gathered in Step 1. As a sales professional, you’ve earned the right to consult on situations that involve your products and applications. However, you must dig much deeper when selling value by constantly asking questions to understand and learn the customer’s operations.
Every visit, particularly with high potential customers, should yield more “gold” information about their operations, staffing, and systems. Since you are there frequently and can be objective, you can spot gaps, inefficiencies, and ways to increase revenue.
In brief, you should identify situations and opportunities that can lead to improved customer efficiency, cost savings, or increased revenue and profit.
#3 Identify Specific Values
A key aspect of selling value is demonstrating how you can positively impact your customer’s business in bottom-line dollars. You do this by identifying specific areas where your products, services and solutions can help your customers. Here is a list of common business benefits that is a good starting point to help structure your thought process in quantifying all relevant values to the customer:
- Improved productivity by reducing production costs, labor costs, or cost of goods sold (COGS)
- Improved profitability
- Increased revenue or volume
- Improved competitive advantage including shortened time to market
- Enhanced company or organizational image
How can we bring all these quantified values together so you can build your value presentation?
#4 Quantify the Value
By using the fourth step, quantifying the value so you have bottom-line dollars to discuss. Select each value you have uncovered, project that value over the time period that a customer expects to get a return, and then add the values together to arrive at the grand total of the complete value of your total offering.
This formula is simple but requires discipline to identify the key value indicators that might be involved and to quantify the values for each. In some cases, you will have to estimate the value to the customer, so be realistic in order to maintain credibility. For some indicators you will also need to determine the frequency that they occur so that you can forecast them over time.
Take this example:
One sales professional observed that his chemical, which was one of two chemicals required for an industrial process, was being stored 90 feet from the production line it was used on.
It took two people about 15 minutes to move the barrels and this was being done four times a day, so he quickly estimated that it was costing the company two work hours per day at an estimated cost of $60 per day. Not very much, until you project over a year and it becomes a considerable potential savings of about $15,000.
Additionally, if the customer bought the chemicals in a combination form from the sales professional, the customer could save $10,000 a year versus the competitor’s pricing and $5,000 in administrative time. In this instance, the sales professional could offer the customer a grand total value of $30,000 (15,000 + $10,000 + $5,000).
Following this four-step value selling process may not guarantee that you win every competitive sales situation, but it will help you focus your selling efforts on your customer’s business issues. And that is the whole point of selling on value.
About Debbi Conger
Debbi Conger has over 25 years of experience in instructional design and development of customized training program for sales professionals, marketing organizations, and technical teams. She spent over 12 years at Microsoft where she developed and taught a wide selection of courses covering product knowledge, partner programs, and selling skills. Debbi also was responsible for Microsoft's world-wide new hire sales onboarding program.