I’ve been thinking a lot about the difference between value sales people and tactical sales people. Do you sell what you have in your bag? Or do you sell value to your customer or prospect? You know who you are. You have either been very lucky (and, in some cases, successful) tactically selling what is in your bag to anyone who will buy. Or, you are successful by always having a solid pipeline and closing deals based on value to your customer. Let’s take a look at both sides.
There is no doubt that if you throw enough stuff against the wall, you can sell something. Many do it all the time. Typically, that means finding someone lower in the organization who has more of a technical bent. Miraculously, you get the deal done.
I am stumped by how this type of a deal gets justified and cleared by procurement, but I have seen it happen many times. The sales person is often clueless as to the value to the customer. They may know that money is being saved, reporting is faster, and so on, but with little to no idea about the value to the customer.
Questionable business value, weak rationale behind making the change to your product or service, and then a potentially disruptive implementation are all risks you’re asking the customer to accept. I can only guess that someone in the organization was able to justify it to their management while the sales person remained blind to all of that going on behind the scenes.
What I do know for sure is that this sales person most likely left tons of money on the table, especially if it was a priority need for an executive at the company, and the value was great enough to want to purchase your product and/or services. You may have thought you sold a big deal at $5 million. But, you did not know that your buyer had easily justified a savings of $500 million. Think you could have maybe gotten a bit more money out of the deal if you knew that? Even if the buyer low-balled the savings, do you still think you got a great deal?
I would say NO. But, I know many who would say yes. Who cares? You closed a big deal and management is happy.
Now, turn this situation around. Your management is ecstatic that you closed that same deal for $50-100 million. You also sold them extra services since you understood exactly what they were trying to achieve and why all of the pertinent executives would care.
Funny enough, selling value does not take more time. In many cases, you can shorten the sales cycle, ensure you close it on or around a particular date, and almost always get more money from a deal – when you are all about understanding value to your buyer.
Value sales people spend more time understanding their customers’ or prospects’ business goals, outcomes and priorities more than they do understanding the nuances of their products and services. When they are in conversations with lower level executives, they are constantly probing to understand where, and whether or not, this initiative is a priority to senior executives and why.
And, then taking it one more step further, they also understand, whatever that senior executive’s priorities are, how they link to specific corporate goals as well. They never guess. They always confirm and validate their knowledge, totally focused on their customers’ success.
It is so easy to tell the difference between tactical sales people and value sales people. Tactical sales people cannot, or choose not to, talk about the customer in any meaningful way. They can talk in intimate details about their technology. And they understand they are helping their buyer make money, save money or reduce risk; but that is where the value statement ends.
But value sales people bring in the experts when they need technology expertise. They prefer to have their customers and prospects look at them as business people who are there to help other business people be successful and attain their priority business goals. So, which one are you?