I’m amazed at the number of sellers that really don’t believe their value proposition or value creation.
How do I know this?
- They don’t know enough about what I’m trying to achieve to be able to articulate and quantify the value I should expect from their solution.
- They answer concerns I have with product capabilities, not what the solution means to me and my organization and what we are trying to achieve.
- They can’t challenge me with the impact of doing nothing, not changing. They keep pitching the product and what the product does.
- They can’t address my concerns on FOFU! They actually don’t hear that I have FOFU, continuing to talk about their product and it’s superiority.
- And finally, they rush to discount when I raise my obligatory objection to the pricing. Whether it’s a discount, a freebie, some other concession around the value of the offering, they are too willing to offer concessions.
- and …….
While the words, “value proposition,” easily roll off sellers tongues, they say those words because that’s what they’ve been scripted and trained to say, but they really don’t understand what it means and the impact to the customer. They are taught to say things like:
- “We improve productivity by X%,” but when challenged what that means and what the customer is likely to experience, they struggle. When asked, “How do you do this,” they cite product features/functions, but not how it actually impacts the people using the product.” And other than buying the product, they can’t discuss what it takes to achieve those productivity gains. Somehow, it seems that if we are paying for the product, we magically improve productivity.
- Alternatively, “we reduce costs by Y%.” Again, they might identify areas of cost reduction based on what they’ve been trained to say, but can they actually identify those areas of waste in our organization? Can they help us identify how what we are doing impacts our costs, and specifically how the change will eliminate some of those issues?
- “We create an ROI of Z…..,” but they don’t have the business or financial acumen to actually look at what the specific ROI the customer is likely to achieve and what they need to do to achieve it.
- And more….
To believe in our value proposition, to create value as we work with our customers, it’s critical that we move beyond regurgitating the stuff we’ve been trained on. We have to have the ability to translate the value into meaning for the customer–specific to them, their challenges, and their situation.
They don’t know and, possibly, shouldn’t know how to do this. If they did, they probably would have done it already, or they would have avoided the circumstances forcing them to change now. They need, and value, help and leadership in doing this.
Buying is about addressing business issues and opportunities. It’s about the specific challenges, changes, risks, and issues the customer faces. People struggle to buy because they are seeking the answers to what the solution means to them and whether it is the right thing for them to do.
Yet sellers tend to talk about the capabilities, features, functions of what they sell, and they, gladly, demonstrate those to anyone willing to sit through yet one other demo.
Finally, because the actual problems, challenges, issues, and fear customers face in the change initiative, is far beyond what sellers have been trained to do; the sellers may not actually understand or believe in the value the solutions might create.
When will sellers (and enablement and management) understand it is not so much what they sell, but what it means, specifically, to the customer situation that really counts?