In B2B selling, especially close to the end of your fiscal year, quarter or month end, it's tempting for many sales pros to try and incent their client to sign an order by:
- Discounting on price
- Throw in additional product volume of features to win the deal
- Increase expenses on customer entertainment
- Make promises of value added, high margin services in exchange for an early order
Though moving an order through the sales funnel is important, you also want to protect your product value, and set the stage for the customer relationship moving forward. As a sales trainer, your ability to help your company's sales team to communicate the strategic value of your products and services is, arguably your most important job.
Here are four tips on helping your sales team to sell on value, not by cutting price or giving away the store.
1. Position Your Company as a Strategic Partner/Advisor
There may be a bunch of companies in your industry who offer your product or service. One of the keys to getting customers onside is to differentiate your company as not just an order taker and a transactional seller, but a partner in the success of their project, or in the use of your product. Some ways to achieve strategic advisor status include:
- Bundle training into a product purchase, be it live, or recorded, customer-only accessible training. Some of the costs of delivering the training can be recouped in the long term when clients make repeat purchases, renew their contract, or become more successful in using your product.
- Create an accessible knowledge base, or customer forum where you can answer customer questions in a public way, demonstrating how you guide customers to succeeding with your solution
- Have your senior executives or consultants blog, or record video blogs which demonstrate their domain expertise. This helps build your authority in your industry, as opposed to just being one of many companies who sell the old fashioned way. Encourage your sales reps to share these commentaries with their clients.
2. Find Opportunities to Tell Stories
Risk-averse customers like to hear about circumstances where other businesses, just like them, took the risk of buying your product, were successful in implementing your solution, and/or met their objectives/ROI goals by contracting with your business.Story telling is helpful as it:
- Incites emotion in the listener
- Builds trust. "The proof is in the pudding" as they say
- If your customer can see them self as the "hero" of the story, you are on your way
- Establishes a linear timeline for your client, with a beginning, an quest/adventure, and a happy ending. The story should demonstrate how customer got good value from their purchase, and succeeded in their quest of a specific attainable goal
You can leverage Hirevue Accelerate to help coach your sales reps to tell stories more effectively. Creating a safe, supportive environment for making your sales reps comfortable with telling stories is a step in the right direction to getting the stories delivered with purpose, insight and context.
3. Refine Your Message to Communicate How You Are Unique
If a customer is asking you to discount your price, then it is a sign you haven't communicated your strategic value relative to your competitors. They see your company as a commodity player. By building messaging on how your product is unique in the marketplace, it helps to reduce the odds your customer will seek a discount before buying your product.
Don't assume your differentiators are important to your clients though! Ask them! If you have key value propositions which aren't resonating with your customers, then you need to go back to the drawing board to find other ways your company adds strategic value.
According to McKinsey and Co., a 1% change in discounting has a 9% impact on your operating margins – a seemingly small capitulation on pricing that can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line.
4. Teach Your Customers about Problems they Don't Know They Have
A customer may understand there is pain, but they need a strategic advisor to tell them why they have that pain. Your company, as a provider of products and services which address the sort of pain they are experiencing, can help them to identify the source, severity and sufferers of that pain. A "Pain Chain" as some might call it.
Bringing the key stakeholders together, and helping them to diagnose the symptoms and solutions to these problems can become the motivating force behind getting a customer to contract for your products or solutions.Some experts say that today's customers are often sixty to seventy five percent of the way through the sales cycle before they even contact a sales team.
Though prospective customers can research the "speeds and feeds" of your products, it takes a skilled sales person to motivate a client to take action. The best motivation is usually "What's In It For Me" (from the customer's perspective)
Help your sales team to "rise above" their contemporaries who are selling on features and functions, price or "schmoozing". Provide learning opportunities for your sales team for selling on value, not cost. Coaching your sales team using Hirevue Accelerate can create a supportive, interactive experience for your sales reps to use whether they are up town, across the country, or around the world.
For more great insights into value based selling, check out the Ultimate Guide to Sales Training Programs and Methodologies.