Differentiate Your Company - Use Your Core Competencies to Sell Your Business Value
Selling business value rather than features and benefits is now the norm in B2B sales. To get out of the commodities trap where ‘best price’ is the focus, you must be successful at implementing a best value sales strategy.
Selling business value rather than features and benefits is now the norm in business to business sales. To get out of the commodities trap where ‘best price’ is the focus, you must be successful at implementing a best value sales strategy. Visualize the concept as a scale where best price is on one side and best value is on the other side. At the beginning of the sales cycle both carry equal weight. However, as the buying process evolves and moves to the decision making process the scale tips to one side or the other based on the perception the buyer has of the potential solution.
In order to better understand the challenge, look at the marketplace. There are people who sell tangibles (products) defined as things you can visualize like computers and telephone systems; and there are people who sell intangibles (services) defined as things you can’t visualize like training or consulting or systems integration. Both groups struggle with the same reality, commoditization erodes margins. And, the blame for this dilemma is assigned to the salesperson, or the competition, or the buyers of the world. Actually the blame shifts back and forth depending on who is pointing the finger. Here is my recommendation. Change your go-to-market strategy and change your sales process. Sell solutions not products or services. Solutions solve business problems, and have business value.
As you already know selling higher in the prospect’s value chain earlier in the sales cycle offers an opportunity to influence the buying process. Yes, the seller can influence which side of the scale will drive the buyer’s decision making process. But is that enough?
Selling Business Value
Selling business value is about what you talk about when you talk! From a sales process perspective it is a competitive tactic where the selling organization which includes marketing, redefines the language used to describe their products and services. The strategy requires a disciplined approach and requires everyone in the organization to understand the new language. And, by everyone I mean any employee who interacts with a client regardless of title.
To get started your must clearly define your core competencies. I recommend accomplishing this in a workshop format where key people from each business function participate in the process.
Core competencies are a set of required skills and a foundation of knowledge that allows an organization to perform a particular business function. There are two types of competencies, current and emerging. For an organization, core competencies can encompass a set of global skills, qualities (characteristics), and business processes. In a competitive business environment, competencies are the core engine that drives competitive advantage. Once the workshop is complete and the core competencies are defined you are ready to implement your business value sales strategy. Deliver the glossary of terms in writing to the entire employee population, and work with the sales organization on the following sales tactics.
Emphasize: This tactic is especially useful when your delivery of the competency is superior to that of a specific competitor or group of competitors, or when the playing field is equal. Emphasize your expertise in delivery the competency. Here is the game plan; whoever says it first has the credibility.
Deemphasize: This tactic can be used when a competitor, or group of competitors, can deliver the competency better than you can. There is however some degree of risk associated with using this tactic and success is dependent upon the relationship the competitor organization has with the prospective client organization. Never mention a competitor’s name, only talk about the competency. A bad mouth approach is unprofessional and never leads to a positive outcome.
Value Probe: Use this tactic when meeting with a prospective client for the first time face-to-face or on the phone. A value probing question should be preceded by a value statement about the competency you are probing. Your value statement should emphasize how well you deliver a particular competency. Keep the statement short and to the point. Probing questions should always be asked as an open ended question. You want your prospect to talk as much as possible. You can deliver a probing question to validate that you selected the right competency to emphasize. You can deliver a probing question to see if the potential client contact is receiving value from another vendor. You can deliver a probing question to explore what delivering the competency will mean to the contact’s business or personal agenda.
Inoculate: An inoculation message is a preemptive selling tactic in which one party attempts to foresee and neutralize potentially damaging criticism from another party by being the first to confront troublesome issues such as an organization’s weaknesses. Primarily a psychological approach when making statements during a conversation that is intended to be subliminal in nature. Inoculation messages work best when delivered early in the sales cycle prior to being emphasized by an adversary.
Ignore: Do not mention the competency or attempt to use the competency to differentiate your company.
Learn more about the author, Howard Dion.
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- core competencies
- Selling Business Value