“What’s the impact your solution will deliver to your prospect?”
That was the question that I asked a sales rep during a recent opportunity review. His reply was, “well, the proposal that I’ll be putting in front of the Chief Marketing Officer will be around a half-million dollars”. I said, “I’m not asking what the cost of your solution is. I’m asking what the prospect expects to receive in the way of impact to his business.” The sales representative’s response, “I’m not sure.”
Surprisingly, I hear this all too often. I wish I didn’t because it tells me that many sales reps are still looking inward; at the cost of his/her solution. Rather, reps need to look outward and uncover what impact the prospect looks to receive once they acquire/implement your solution. This is what I call the “value conversation”. If you don’t have it you’ll be stuck talking price – the cost of your solution. And, isn’t is strange that your price always seem to be “too high” or “more than we budgeted for”.
The value conversation is about understanding what your prospect thoughts are in regards to the impact of your solution. It’s asking them questions like, “if we can solve your business issues, what value does that bring to your organization.” Asking that question (or ones like it) promotes a dialog around what they believe the impact will be.
It’s important to note that this is very different than ROI or cost justification models that many companies utilize. Tools like this are great and they can reinforce the investment in your offering. But having the value conversation allows your prospect to step back and think about all the various ways your solution can impact them.
The most common form of impact is a financial return; decreasing costs, increasing productivity, generating more revenues, etc. Value (a.k.a. consultative) sellers are aware of the many areas that their solutions impact and inquire about each aspect. They probe in each area so that the financial justification (the value proposition or value “prop”) is as powerful as it can be. It’s really something when your prospect begins to internalize an impact like “one additional sale per rep”. When your prospect does the rough math calculation they’ll likely to discover that the ROI figures are very compelling. And, better yet, they’re the ones who come up with the numbers!
In addition to the financial justification is another, extremely powerful component of value; personal value. This is the value that can’t be placed on a balance sheet or income statement. Rather, it’s the value that your prospect realizes, personally, when their issues are resolved. Things like recognition, career advancement, less stress, and more free time (not having to works nights or weekends) are examples of this personal value. And it’s the personal value that becomes the real horsepower in your sales opportunity. When your prospect sees how your solution will not only benefit the company but will also benefit him or her, personally, then your sales campaign has real power behind it.
Interestingly, despite the importance of understanding the personal value your solution can bring the prospect, many (most?) sales reps are uncomfortable having this discussion. They feel it’s, well, too personal. Instead, they rely on the financial justification to close the deal. I counter that each rep must find an approach (i.e. questions) that they’re comfortable asking to uncover the personal value; it’s that important and we lose a great opportunity if we don’t ask.
So, the next time you’re preparing for an upcoming sales call, think about the questions that you’ll want to ask that’ll help both you and your prospect uncover the value your solution will bring both his/her organization and to them, personally. Without the value conversation, you have nothing to counterweight the price conversation – which will inevitably come up.