Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

The Customer’s #1 Priority






We gave the customer the opportunity to try our products and services for 90 days at no cost. After the 90 days of running their software on our computer systems they politely responded, “Thanks for letting us try out your system, but at this point we need to continue to stay with our current vendor.”

Wow, the old try it and then buy it technique did not work.

Why? Our existing customers say our systems are the best! Fastest, low cost, easy to migrate and easy to service. Why didn’t this prospect feel the same way? What did we miss?

According to Jeff Thull, author of "Exceptional Selling", it comes down to one word – VALUE. Value is the most used word with every customer. The problem arises when the seller doesn’t know what the customer perceives as value. Understanding the customers’ value perception is all that really counts. They define it, and it can vary widely depending on what they are trying to accomplish.

Thull says, “Customers want to know how your offering is going to add value to their business and help their careers, and how it will reduce their company’s costs or generate additional revenues.” Translation: What’s my incentive to change? I agree with Thull – this is powerful!

Today most industries are saturated and your competition is everywhere, which only makes your challenge tougher. It’s not just about winning new business, it’s also about unseating the incumbent. Some wait for the customer to get upset with their existing vendor, but if we wait for that to happen we might go out of business first. You need to have a compelling message that convinces customers that changing will pay big dividends for them.

As Jeff says- They don’t just want value added, they want value assurance. Translation: Show me how this dream will become reality and give me the confidence to invest in your solution.

Here’s the dilemma – customers are demanding value and every sales person is promising it. Yet, all value is not equal, even though it may look that way to your prospect.

How do you differentiate your value proposition from theirs?

First, listen carefully when you ask powerful, strategic questions (as we have discussed in previous issues of The Sales Synthesizer). Do they want and value high speed, low cost, ease of use? What is important to them? Without know this answer you’ll struggle to have the impact that sets you apart from others.

Next, realize that customers don’t buy your value proposition. They buy the results your value proposition is designed to deliver. They won’t take the time to translate the value proposition, so you have to do it for them.

Are you sometimes puzzled when your prospects don’t see your value from your perspective?

This is a great clue to you that you need to connect the dots for them. Make it simple and obvious how your solution will help them achieve their goal.

Remember that your customer or prospect is the judge and jury in the sale, while you are the expert witness. You guide them to your solution when you ask and listen.

The next time you tell the prospect what value your products and services provide, make sure you first understand their perception of value and then connect the dots.

Good selling!
Stu

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