Does What You Sell Have More Value to You than to Your Customers?
A. Do you desperately need the client’s business now so that she can provide the money that will pay your commission enabling you to pay your bills?
B. Does the client desperately need your insight and solution now so that she can increase productivity, reduce risk, improve margins and profit and achieve a better market position (or whatever the value may be)?
C. Do the people, that you are dealing with as your potential clients, desperately need your insight and solution to serve their own personal agendas?
Which of the three questions fills your head as you communicate with potential client representatives: A, B and/or C?
We have a genuine problem if our products, services and insight are not closely intertwined with something that is extremely important to the client’s business and to the personal agendas of the people involved in promoting the project and our solution. If we do not understand the value that our solution will provide and if we cannot qualify and quantify that the relationship between value and the CAPEX/OPEX requirement is at least 5:1, then we have a very weak case.
Professional sales people lead with questions related to understanding B and C. Question A is completely irrelevant and should be replaced with:
“Are the resources that I and my company have to invest in winning this project justified by the price we can charge, by the probability that we can deliver successfully, by the probability that the projects will be executed and by the probability that we can win the business?”
Most people prefer to do nothing rather than initiate a change that involves a risk of failure. Change is seldom driven from below, but by people with ambitions and responsibility for driving their companies forward. However, change agents understand the need for the full support of those involved with implementing and executing the changes. That’s why we often mistake the people involved with the operational details for the real decision makers (they may push for a yes or a no, but will not have the final say).
It is our job as professional sales people to help develop the business cases for the client’s projects (and acquiring our products, services and insight) and it’s our job to rally all the influencers and decision makers behind such projects. We should be the first to identify pitfalls and help the client develop contingency plans for mitigating risk. If the client decides to put the project on the back burner, then we have invested our efforts in vain. We must assess this scenario all along the sales process so can we back out if the circumstances are unfavorable and push ahead if there is genuine and recognized value for the client and for us.
Sales people are investors
As professional sales people we should only invest our time, insight and company resources in helping clients that can achieve measurable value way over and above the price they have to pay us. If we approach the sales process with this attitude then we can focus all our efforts on high value projects with cooperative customers and we can filter out potential customers that are unwilling to cooperate and avoid projects that have little or uncertain pay-off.
The difference should be substantial and visible.