Price Is An Illusion – Creating Value is not!

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Author: Anders Christian Hjort

Did effective seller behaviour change lot the last 40 years?
Thousands of observations done every year at Huthwaite International Research Group show a majority of sales people still talk brochure, feature puke, ask too few effective questions, and invite price negotiations too early etc.

Very few sellers take the most effective sales approach creating value in the mind of the customer and capture the value for their company and their own pay check.

From my experience – and more research support this – only 10-20% of the sales population are outstanding performers. Thats 1-2 out of 10 sales people!

Why is that?

Well, it’s quite simple – there is no easy way and no quick fix if you’re an average performer and don’t see the value in getting out of your comfort zone changing your old habits to new and more effective ones.

However, if your average performers really see the value of improving their skills, it’s only an 8-12 weeks journey for most people to transfor into a new high performance comfort zone.

From a sales management point of view you need to tick 4 boxes to get things moving:

1. Remove external blocks for individual execution (Management-role)
2. Empower people with knowledge enabling them to execute based on their talents, experience and best practices (Leadership-role)
3. Improve people execution skills on an on-going basis (Coaching-role)
4. Deal with real attitude issues proactively by applying the above topic 1-3 and get rid of “dead weight” (Management role)

Research still going on
Almost 40 years ago our research team, headed by Neil Rackham, uncovered the secrets and best practices of effective sellers, and how they do things differently when winning the customers purchase and loyalty long term.

SPIN® Selling was born, and to date our ongoing observations at Huthwaite International Research Group still confirms that these specific verbal behaviours are being applied by sales champions around the globe.

Let’s have a look on what effective sellers do in the 21st century.

Ineffective vs Effective Sellers
These days I observe that the ineffective sellers struggle like they newer have before – and the effective sellers – in comparison – still win profitable business – even in bad times like now.

First of all, the effective sellers simply understands better how the buying psychology works in most human beings, and they know how to apply best practice skills and strategies in each stage of the buying process of their clients.

High performing sellers might compare with a professional and high performing sportsman – they understand the need to practice, practice and practice again, to stay on top of their game. They keep improving and honing their skills and strategies continuously, to stay fit for fight – ending up becoming or staying the “Champions” of sales.

Secondly, the skills and strategies applied today by top performers in sales are more multifaceted than ever.

Best practice selling skills, account development strategies are basics. Engaging new prospects and existing clients via persuasive social media content and social canvas, using creativity, imagination and business acumen to differentiate and articulate how to help and bring value to the client. Also negotiating skills and unique strategies for winning over the hearts of procurement, customer retention skills and social marketing skills to build the reputation that will help embrace and handle the customer experience all around the buying cycle – All well planned and executed proactively. This is my picture of effective sellers anno 2014.

Thirdly, the outcomes that follow: confident top performing sellers, shorter sales cycles, predictable pipeline, confident sales management, more and major signed contracts, succesful implementations and repeat purchase from happy and delighted clients.

I truly respect the top performing sellers of the world. They are fueling successful organisations, and we all know that:

No Sales – No Business!

Do sellers really understand what Buyers and Procurement needs and values most?
Now, things have really changed a lot on the buyer side during the last decade:

1. The shift in the information and power balance due to the internet empowering buyers with insights and information early,

2. The rise of procurement in major organisations, more tenders and bids, reverse auctions etc. all skewing the power balance towards the buyers side and challenging most average sellers severely.

I experience that top performers in sales grabbed this many years ago, engaging with buyers and procurement early in their buying processes, differentiating themselves to win and sell to their strengths later.

However, the changes in the buying side behaviour is a major challenge to most sellers. I experience average performing sellers often being pushed into the price trap early, making concessions early, doing no push back, no bargaining, loosing control and more. Sellers and sales mangers diagnose that in the increasing number of excuses for “no progress” being made:

“We need to reduce price to get this sale…”

“Our product is no different to the competition…”

“We are not competitive…”

However from top performers we do not hear complains like this. Instead theay challenge their internal organisation to develop great priducts and based on hard differentiators that will make them stand out.

3 things that I experience differentiate high performing sellers
1. Well prepared Industry Experts with a strong business acumen
Know very well their own product, solutions and services differentiation, and how it can help the buyer succeed even better serving their clients.

Know the buyers business and industry even better than the buyer himself.

2. Masters of social networking and engaging in value creating conversations that make buyers feel “in safe hands”
They are true masters of navigating and setting the scene in a multi stakeholder environment and engaging the right people in natural win/win conversations around the right issues, at the right time. The excel in applying effective verbal behaviours that enable the buyer side to see the full value their solution, and how doing business with you will make them feel safe and bring the values they ask for.

They excel in presenting the jointly developed business cases persuasively, making Benefit statements in both tech, business and personal zones, so the values created and concerns resolved will reduce the fear, uncertainties and doubts of deciding to go with you. Therefore I say:

“Price is an illusion – People buy what the value most and fear least!”

They summarise benefits and check for concerns proactively before asking for an appropriate commitment.

They negotiate like the very best on a win/win basis, and get the buyer signature and closes an agreement that works also during implementation.

They implement and document client satisfaction during implementation and spot client dissatisfaction and opportunities for more business, to start a new buying cycle in the mind of the buyer.

3. Living best practices in sales eases everyone’s day

By executing effectively they create value in their clients clients mind in such a way that price vaporise, and as a consequense company profits rise faster and their own pay checks as well…

My friend Dr. Janet Curran Head of Thought Leadership at Huthwaite International Research Group often says:

“Value is in they eyes of the beholder”

and I saw this quote the other day:

20140126-140012.jpgHope you found it worth the read?

Enjoy your day 🙂

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