Increasingly, technology products that are merely “good enough” are permeating the market. Clients are not looking for perfection and accept the limitations of a lower-cost product. Software allows these good enough products to be enhanced over time, with new features being delivered through software updates that can make a product more valuable.
After researching several large hardware providers, we discovered that a large percentage of their monthly sales were either fulfillment or products, while only a small percentage of their monthly sales were high-margin solutions that included high-value services. Every manufacturer would like to improve their percentage of high-margin products and services, so, why don’t Sales teams sell more high-value solutions to solve the business problems of their customers?
Selling Value vs. Simply Selling Products and Services
Sadly, many B2B sales reps are more comfortable selling products than solving a customer’s business problem. On the other hand, customers are looking for confidence that their supplier understands their problem, or opportunity, and can explain how the solution will address their business need. So, what differentiates the average product seller and the high-value solutions salesperson?
Our research has concluded that high achievers have a consistent methodology that aligns value with the customer’s business outcome. Starting with the customer’s desired business outcome, defining financial objectives, operational key performance indicators, and business processes, the supplier can then align their key capabilities, products, and services, to deliver a complete value-based solution. Here are three sales tips for aligning the value of your products and services to the desired outcomes of your customers.
In a world of “good enough” technology, clients are not expecting perfection. They do, however, want the confidence that their supplier can deliver a solution that can help them meet their business outcome.
Tip #1: Define a Meaningful Business Outcome for a Customer
For a company to be interested in a business outcome, the result needs to be important and have the right “altitude” within the organization. Industry verticals provide specific areas of value that are relevant to all companies. Omnichannel banking, customer engagement-retail, and patient experience-healthcare are examples of strategic business outcomes that all clients in a vertical market would have interest and initiatives.
Add specific measures, financial and operational, to further define what a client can expect to have improved. Measures should be a range of what is possible and validated with market experience.
Tip #2: Position Your Point-of-View to Build the Customer’s Confidence
In a world of “good enough” technology, clients are not expecting perfection. They do, however, want the confidence that their supplier can deliver a solution that can help them meet their business outcome. Create your point-of-view and support it with verified customer examples and outcomes. While the technology does not have to be perfect, the end result does. Use services to differentiate your solution and allow your customers access to subject matter experts, best practices, and a lifecycle approach that will build customer confidence.
Tip #3: Use Content to Supplement Subject Matter Expertise
No supplier has enough subject matter experts available to support every client. Of the available resources, they are usually tied to a large opportunity or customer. But, by using a variety of rich media, you can still leverage this limited resource.
Short videos, aligned by topic, can demonstrate expertise on a specific topic and be delivered at the right moment in the sales process. Access to experts via collaboration tools is another example of a way to leverage this expertise. As we know, access to an expert can speed the sales cycle time and confirm customer confidence. Collaboration tools and content are effective to engage clients in a world where on-demand, immediate gratification is becoming increasingly popular.
The Benefits of Selling Outcomes
Outcome selling unites products and services and aligns the solution to a customer’s unique business objective. After all, they want to make worthwhile investments to improve their businesses, and are more likely to consider a value-based supplier more broadly than just a competitive price. As the complexity of solutions increases and the number of new solutions Sales teams are expected to understand grows, the problem of transforming product sellers to solution sales will exist.
Those suppliers that recognize they need to change their engagement model with their clients, and not do more of the same, will see immediate and long term benefits. No longer can product sellers rely on technology alone. They need a new engagement model that delivers value to their clients.
About Author Glenn Gramling
Glenn Gramling is the vice president of Outcome Chains, Inc., a SaaS solution designed to facilitate better outcome-based collaboration between buyers and sellers. Glenn has over 20 years of experience in sales and marketing management, ranging from large high-technology firms to venture-funded startups.