The sales call was not going as planned.
The customer looked at the cost in our proposal to manufacture their pc boards and we could tell by his expression that we were losing and losing fast. What else could we possibly do? Finally in one last effort to save the deal, I asked a question that surprised not only my vice president, but the customer as well.
The question: “Can I ask a candid question? I know that cost is a concern and I’m sure you can get the boards made in China at a lower cost, but what is it you’re really trying to accomplish?”
The customer responded, “Even though cost is important to protect our margins, my biggest concern is selling the boards. I need a partner with name recognition that can help sell the quantities needed to capture the projected market share.”
His response gave us the opportunity to position the real value of our company – presence in the market. As a major computer company and manufacturer we suggested the following.
“How much value would you receive if we added your boards in our price book?”
His eyes lit up and the cost of the board was no longer the issue. He saw much more value in the partnership – we would be his distributor. A win/win strategy that allowed us to close and sign the contract on the very next day.
So many times sales people are focused solely on the product they sell, the features and functions but then miss the real opportunity hidden within the customers’ needs and goals. Selling features and functions is not value. Benefits that solve the customer’s problems is what delivers value.
Ron Karr is the 2013-2014 president of the National Speakers Association. His is an expert speaker, trainer and consultant in sales, yet Ron doesn’t sell presentations or training – he sells outcomes! His approach is well articulated in his must read-“Lead, Sell, or Get Out Of The Way.”
Ron believes that you should lead with the outcome! When you focus on the “how” questions you are limiting your conversation strictly to features. Unfortunately customers will think – correctly or incorrectly – that they have heard and seen these same features elsewhere. It’s tough to differentiate your offering with that approach.
According to Ron, when you lead with an outcome, you expand the conversation to other issues that may lead to an even larger opportunity. This approach is what true sales leaders do. They uncover and address the deeper issues that allow them to create real value.
Now, let’s talk about what Ron calls the leadership mix. It’s a way to differentiate you from your competition.
This is the unique mix of your features, services, quality, delivery, and leadership. The mix you offer must become an offering in itself. Ron explains that your sale can no longer revolve purely around features that people believe they can get elsewhere, or pricing that they believe they can beat by a tenth of a cent by shopping your bid around. The magic is in the mix!
As you read earlier, our company provided more than just product. We provided a powerful and compelling mix of market presence, services, quality and manufacturing. How can you create your own captivating mix?
If you’d like to learn more than this synthesis can provide about ‘the leadership mix’ and other ways to lead with outcomes, read Ron’s book, “Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way”.