In order to grow, you need customers – but not just any customers. You need customers that will value what you sell. Unfortunately, if you’re like most sales people, you have no idea of the value that you sell. Why is this?
The problem is sales teams are taught that value begins with their product. First, they learn the product, then they learn its critical features, and then they learn the benefits of these features to their customers. Product, features, benefits – in that order. This is completely wrong and it is rooted in an Industrial Age framework. In the Industrial Age, manufacturers used “value-added” processes to add value to raw materials and create finished products. In other words, they defined value. In this post-Industrial Age, vendors do not create value. I’ll repeat that in case you read over it. Vendors do not create value!
Value is defined and created by your customers. Therefore, your approach to value creation must begin with, and be in partnership with, and end with the customer. Follow these three steps for a sound approach to selling value:
1. Start with the customer. Rather than start with your product, start with the customer’s strategy and processes. In order to create value, you must understand where the customer is going, how they are trying to get there, and what is getting in their way.
2. Collaborate with the customer. Work out how your capabilities (product or services) can be applied to their processes in order to address external pressures, internal obstacles and/or emerging opportunities for growth.
3. Work with your customer. Over the long term, ensure that your customers are actually deriving value from the use of your products and services. As much as possible, aim to quantify this value to be sure that both you and your customer understand the economic impact of your intervention.
By taking this rigorous approach to collaborative value creation, you will separate yourself from the hordes of vendors that are stuck in The Product-Push TrapTM. You will be able to, very quickly, identify those customers with a real need for your product or service. It is these customers that will work with you as a partner because they quickly recognize that partnering with you creates value for them. As you create value for them, you’ll create demand for your solutions.