Guest Column | March 5, 2014

The Preface To Accelerating Sales

Gil Cargill

By Gil Cargill, Sales Acceleration Coach, Cargill Consulting Group, Inc.

Welcome to my nine-week sales acceleration program.  During the next nine weeks, this newsletter will publish one chapter from a book that I am developing.  Our overarching purpose in writing this book is to help the 21st-century sales professional understand that the rules of the road have clearly changed and that our old strategies and tactics don't work.

As a matter of fact, your prospects are probably much more sophisticated and much more knowledgeable about your product, services and solutions than they've ever been.  As a result, some studies show that today's buyer has completed 80-85% of the overall buying/evaluation process, prior to meeting a sales professional.

Compare that to the old days, when prospects had to talk to a sales professional in order to understand how the various products and services worked.  This enabled the buyer and the seller to build rapport and have a relationship that encouraged the buyer to make a positive decision to invest in the seller's products and services.  In today's world, that circumstance has completely evaporated.

As a result, your prospects want to know what the results that you will deliver are.  The old days of being a "feature preacher" are gone, may they rest in peace.  Today, every prospect wants to know what results they will get when they make a positive buying decision.  Moreover, they want to know what the value of those results are; and don't ever forget that your prospects always judge value based on their standards and their criteria.

In the course of this book, you'll understand how to create a sales process that matches the buying process of the 21st century.  You're going to learn how it is truly a process-driven environment; that the old glib, "grin-and-grab" approaches to selling just don't work.

So, before you dive into next week's exercise, make sure that you spend some time with yourself and/or teammates to clearly understand what are the values that a prospect will derive when he/she makes a positive decision to purchase from your company.  If you can't answer that question instinctively, then you must do some homework with your existing customers.

You'll find that one of the best ways to ascertain the quality and quantity of results and therefore the value of those results, from a customer's point of view, is to ask your customers.  I know, that almost sounds simplistic, but it does work.  Call your customers and spend some time with them, and just ask them what results have they derived since they became one of your customers.

  • Have you helped them save money?
  • Have you helped them accelerate their internal processing?
  • Have your services and products reduced the frequency of errors made by the company?
  • Have you helped them extend the lifetime value of their customers and, therefore, reduced attrition?

You really shouldn't go out selling in any form or fashion, in the 21st century, without understanding – from a customer's point of view – the value of results that have been delivered by your company.  Failure to do this forces you to be a feature preacher.  All of your existing competitors may be feature preachers and, don't forget, your customers know your features, their speeds, their feeds and their capabilities as well, if not better, than you do.

So, why argue with features (whose is the fastest, who stores the most, et cetera, et cetera), when you can argue that your results are more valuable than your competition.  Now, value is also a huge component of our selling process.  You must put value in front of everything else, in order for a prospect to properly compare and contrast your solution to your competition.

When we fail to put value in front of the customer, the customer is forced to make a decision based on price.  In an absence of any other information and/or evidence, decision-makers will inevitably buy based on price.  If you allow price to be your key differentiator, then you are leaving profit on the table during each and every transaction.

In order to ascertain your value, answer this question: What does it cost a prospect to say no to the opportunity to do business with you and your company?  If your answer to this question is it cost them nothing, then you really do have a lot to learn.  You see, the answer to that question is one side of a two-sided coin.

If you allow your prospects to perceive that it costs them nothing to postpone or decline an opportunity to do business with you, then you are de facto saying that your companies gain nothing when they do decide to do business with you.  A good sales process and presentation always helps a customer understand the cost of saying "no" and/or "not now".

Build your presentations and messaging throughout your entire sales and marketing process, based on the formula of the Three Ps.  The three Ps represent the building blocks of your organization's definition of results.

  1. People:  The first P stands for people.  The people that work for your organization are unique.  They're hired, screened, trained and coached to deliver optimum value to your prospects.  While all of your competitors also employ people, odds are they don't mention the quality of the team and/or any process associated with screening and retaining employees to optimize the results that a customer derives.
  1. Process:  The second component of value is process.  I am willing to bet that your company has developed a way of delivering the services and products that you promise your customers will receive.  You also have a way of making sure that your customers get at least what you promised that they would receive and, more often than not, more than you promised.

    If your customers like doing business with your company because of the way in which they are treated, that is an indication that you have leaped that chasm between selling commodities and starting to sell based on the value that a relationship with your company produces.
  1. Product:  The third and final P is your product.  While your product may be similar and, in many cases, identical to those sold by your competition, the combination of people, process and product combine to produce a solution.  Your solution, when it is presented as the total value of people, process and product, will more often than not outweigh the perceived value that your customers see in your competitor's solution.

Remember, if your competitor does not communicate the value of his/her teammates and does not communicate the value of their process, then they are leaving components of value out of the decision-making process.  As components of value are reduced, the customer's perception regarding value is equally and proportionately reduced.  This is why it is vital for you to communicate value based on the combination of the three Ps.

Now, value is always defined by the results that are produced.  So, I encourage you to study carefully each lesson that I will send over the next nine weeks.  If you miss any of the lessons, they are posted on my blog and you can go back and read them at your leisure.  As always, I wish you…

Good Luck and Good Selling!!!

Gil Cargill
Sales Acceleration Coach
Direct: 310.362.0615
Mobile: 310.447.4102

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