As a 29-year-old sales training company, we have learned a great deal about the challenges that confront sales institutions on an almost daily basis. From concerns around breaking through the noise and getting a prospect’s attention to concerns around standing apart in a saturated market from the intense competition, it is fair to say that times have been quite challenging.
Some of the areas where we are spending a significant amount of training time in 2022 is on sales negotiation strategies, value-based selling, and sales negotiation techniques. And based on my numerous conversations with CEOs and Presidents, the ability to sell value has become quite a conundrum. The leader gathers his or her salespeople together for a meeting and says the following with passion: “We are better than our competition so stop cutting corners to get deals done.”
The reaction to this is almost always the same. The team smiles and nods their heads in tacit agreement. Then after the CEO walks out of the room, they have the meeting after the meeting where they commiserate and ask each other how long their CEO is going to spend on Fantasy Island. After all, it is brutal out there in the field. And the thinking goes if they don’t match or beat the competition’s offer then it will be all but impossible to win deals.
All of that leads me to want to talk about working on the “right end of the problem.” The knee-jerk reaction is to focus on negotiation training and that is not a bad thing. But the right end of the problem means recognizing where the problem is really starting and that is during the very first sales call or conversation. What’s the problem? Simple – the salesperson is not providing any value as they speed through the process with the prize being able to send the prospect a proposal. And since the prospect does not see or experience any value…because the prospect is not taken through a differentiated experience…and because the price is easy to understand and compare, the prospect simply decides to use that as their yardstick in comparing the difference between the available options.
The key is to add value early in the sales process by tailoring your message for resonance. Differentiate yourself from your competition by taking a consultative sales approach. Get the prospect to wonder why other companies have never asked them the questions you are asking them.
After all, the main reason why salespeople don’t do a very good job of defending value is quite simple. It is hard to defend something that was never provided in the first place. Time to start working on the right end of the problem – how your company and your producers can differentiate and provide your prospects and client with the consultative support and business advice that makes you “rate-resistant.”
From Chief Growth Officer, Mark Trinkle