In 2006 I discovered the practice of Fractional Sales Management before it became an emerging…
The value that matters most in a sales conversation is the one the customer can connect with. Are your prospective customers making a value connection with your offering, or is it possible you are trying to convince them of the value you believe in?
When the iPhone hit the market I couldn’t see the value in paying $400 for a phone when others were free. On top of that I was required to toss in an additional $360 annual fee for a data plan. It looked cool, it was kind of big, but it wasn’t what I needed. At that time I believed my Motorola phone was the best value I could buy for my needs. It wasn’t till a year or two later that I made the connection with the value I was missing in the iPhone.
Steve Jobs and the Apple team understood the value. Why didn’t I see it? The sales person saw the value, they showed it to me, told me all the great things it could do, and let me play with it. Yet, I still couldn’t connect the value between the iPhone and my needs.
It’s not as important to understand why I didn’t see the value as it is to make note, that I didn’t. Today I own two iPhones, two Mac computers, an iPad and use Apple TV. Although I couldn’t see the value at first, I’m all in as an Apple customer today. Good thing Apple didn’t give up on me when I couldn’t connect the value. Have you given up on any prospects that can’t see your value? I hope not. You might be missing out on a lifetime customer.
When things changed for me
The value light bulb went off for me when I made the productivity connection with my work. When someone finally showed me that I could have my email, contacts and calendar sync automatically between my computer and phone, things moved up fast on the value scale. Up until that point, salespeople had been demonstrating the personal benefit of apps, the ease of text messaging and the touch screen. There was not as much effort in trying to learn what I wanted changed in my mobile phone work experience. They were more interested in telling me how cool the phone was.
If someone had just asked me what the one thing was that I wanted to work better between all my technologies I might have spit out the answer that made my value connection. They didn’t, so I had to find that out on my own. You see, I wanted to find the value in that phone. I went back a few times to try and connect the value, but I kept leaving without a phone. With all the advancements the iPhone originally introduced to the world there were still cloud and technology challenges that needed fine tuning to make my sync work. One rep finally had the answers and solved my problem. That’s when I purchased my first iPhone. The solution was not in the iPhone, but rather in supporting technologies. Are there things you need to solve for your customers to help them connect with your value?
What questions are you not asking your customers that might lead them to a value connection? Forget about all the great things you believe are valuable. They only matter if they matter to your customer. Keep asking your customers what they want or don’t want, and see if you have something that can solve their problems.
Customers Want To Buy
If a prospect is willing to spend time with you and be transparent about exploring your offering they probably want you to be the solution. Don’t give up if the value connection is not there today.
Search for a Value Connection
Realize that what you know about the value of your product or service will build your confidence, but it will only build your customers’ when they make the connection with their situation. Take your time and help both of you learn about their situation so you can explore if there is a connection to be made. You shouldn’t be trying to make your solution fit their situation. Instead, you want to see if they have a situation that you might connect your solution with.
Sometimes the prospects’ situation, your offering or something outside of the customer and your control might have to change before the value connection can be made. Similar to the cloud sync working with the iPhone and my email server. Acknowledge this gap or missing value with your prospect. Then stay in touch and in tune with all aspects of the situation so you’ll know when to get back together and make that connection.
It’s cliché to say we all start our sales process by discovering needs and understanding someone else’s problems, just as it is to say that every company strives to provide the best customer service. The fact is most companies are not very good at providing customer service and many sales people really don’t ask questions to learn and find a value connection. They are too busy looking for an opening or buying signal so they can quickly close a deal.
Stand above the crowd and truly help your customers make a value connection. From my experience the struggle that can exist in a sales process goes away, and what you are left with are two people trying to work together and solve a problem.