Skip to content
Jun 8 21

How Value And Value Creation Evolves

by David Brock

It’s imperative that we continue to evolve our thinking on value and value creation.

Way back, in the old days, we created value for our customers by educating them about new products and solutions. The way customers learned about new things and how they might solve problems or addressed new opportunities was largely interactions with sales people. The value we created was educating them about products and services. Sales people used to be the primary source of information and learning, offering customers a view of what was going on both in and outside their companies. Customers didn’t have the web back then, search was a foreign concept. Perhaps they learned some through trade publications or trade shows, but when they really wanted to learn about products and solutions, the sales person was the source of that information.

Those days are long gone, with the overwhelming availability of information about products and services through any number of channels, largely digital. These channels, because of their easy access and richness become the preferred channels for learning, creating more value than the sales person in trying to understand new ways of doing things.

In those times, great sales people created another type of value. They focused not just on educating the customer on products and services, but they helped identify the results a customer could expect in the implementation of the solutions. These sales people created business cases, helping the customer articulate how much they might grow revenue, how they might decrease costs, how they might improve quality or customer service.

These sales people helped the customer understand and articulate the business case or value created through the implementation of a solution. It was expressed in financial terms like ROI, Payback, and so forth. These justifications, also, looked at risk assessments. The solution justification analysis was often accompanied by an implementation plan.

The business case resulting from implementing the solution and risk case is still a critical part of the customer buying and decision process. Sadly, while there are great tools (DecisionLink is probably the most innovative I’ve seen), too often we fail to create the business case–selling only on price. But the customer still has to get this work done, even if we aren’t helping them. We miss an opportunity by leaving the task of creating the business/change management case to the customer.

In the past 10-15 years, we’ve talked about value we create with the customer in the form of helping them think about their businesses differently, bringing them insights, helping them see what others may be doing and what they can learn from them. In this, we help the customer recognize the need to change. We created value through bringing insights and helping them consider changing.

More recently, we’ve learned customers struggle in their buying process. We’ve found 53% of their buying journeys end in no decision made. It has nothing to do with selecting a solution, but more about aligning the diverse agendas and priorities in the buying group. Customers wander in the process, they start, stop, restart. People innovated in the buying process change, priorities change. Other things arise, diverting them to those.

We’ve learned that we create a lot of value with our customers, by helping them complete their process and learn how to buy and manage their buying process through a decision and implementation. After all, if they fail to complete the buying process and actually implement a solution, they will fail to address the problem or opportunity they sought to address.

We’re now seeing another phenomenon arise, creating a new opportunity to help our customers. Where, in the past, they might have lacked information, or missed opportunities to improve; today they are overwhelmed and confused. They struggle with the sheer quantity of high value information, trying to figure out which is most relevant to them.

The customer is, in some form, suffering from insight exhaustion and struggle to make sense of all this information, focusing on that which is most relevant to what they face. We create value by helping the customer make sense of things, narrowing their focus to the things most relevant to what they are trying to achieve.

We, finally, are learning that buying is probably the smallest part of the challenge the customer faces. Buying is just a component of an overall change initiative. Where customers invest most of their time and struggle the most is with these changes. We aren’t helping them on the toughest part of their work when we just focus on our solutions and what they might buy. If they can’t successfully manage the much bigger change issue, in fact they have no reason to buy. So we have to move beyond the problem we solve to the problem the customer needs to solve.

As one might expect the stakes for value creation continue to evolve, or at least our understanding of it continues to evolve. We are moving from creating value with our customers through sensemaking, to looking at decision confidence. The customer have the confidence they have chosen well.

We see other things impacting our customers, which create new opportunities to create value with them. Helping them deal with complexity, helping them understand and recognize the disruptions their customers face and their industry faces. Helping them rethink what they are doing and consider new approaches. Helping them innovate and more effectively serve their customers.

Value and value creation continues to evolve. Sadly, too many sales people aren’t evolving to better support their customers. Too many stop at educating customers about products and presenting the best price. Too many fail to seize the opportunity to create more value with the customer. And customers are recognizing this, choosing to minimize the time spent with sales people.

There is a huge need, there is a huge opportunity. We need to step up our game.

Jun 6 21

How Are You Helping Others Achieve Success?

by David Brock

We are focused on our own success. Striving for success is key to how we grow, learn, develop and learn. Sometimes we fail. But our failures are important to our success. They help us learn, change, improve. As human beings we are driven to achieve.

There’s a funny thing about success, we can’t be successful on our own. We are reliant on others in order to achieve success. It turns out we can’t be successful if those we work with aren’t successful.

If our customers fail in their buying efforts, if our customers don’t achieve their goals, we don’t get the PO.

If your customers don’t succeed in implementing their changes and producing the results they expected; we don’t grow our relationship and ability to earn more business.

We need the support of our peers and co-workers. If they fail, we can’t possibly succeed.

As leaders and managers, we are dependent on the success of our people. If they fail, we fail. As a result, our job is all about helping our people succeed.

Too often, we think of success as win/lose. Ironically, it’s really about win/win. We succeed only if those we work with succeed.

Since our success is based on the success of others, it seems that focusing on their success is a winning strategy.

How are you helping your customers succeed?

How are you helping your friends and coworkers succeed?

How are you helping your people succeed?

Jun 5 21

“How Would You Rate Your Recent Call Experience With Irene M?”

by David Brock

It’s become de-rigueur, after a call to a customer support center, an email is sent asking for an evaluation of the agent. Yesterday, I was having trouble getting something done with my bank. I struggled for a few minutes with some bot, before disconnecting. I searched the web site for about 40 minutes. I struggled for a few minutes with some bot, before disconnecting. I even googled the issue. I tried the app on my phone.

Finally, I decided that I needed to talk to a human being. I searched the website for another 5 minutes trying to find the right number to call (Funny, so many sites now make it very difficult to talk to a real human being in customer service. They hide the number, one has to wander all over to find it. With all these organizations touting their commitment to customer service, one would think that number would be front and center.)

I finally found the number, then I had to go through all sorts of sequences, “If you want….press 1…” It kept trying to get me to ask about my deposits or recent activity. I already knew that, but had a very different question. I only had to redial once more, going through the sequences the right way.

And finally, I reached Irene, a delightful lady in Atlanta. She greeted me cheerfully, asking my question. Once I told her, she said, “Oh, I get that question all the time…. It can be confusing…. Let me walk you through it….” Within 2 minutes, she had answered my questions. She also said, “Don’t do this on the app, it can be pretty confusing, go to the website on your browser…..” As we closed, she said, “I’m going to send you an article on this….ignore everything until you get to Part C….that has what you need. Is there anything else I can do to help you?”

After thanking her for all her help, I hung up. She had emailed me the article. I had actually seen it in my web search, but hadn’t gotten beyond the first couple of paragraphs. I didn’t know what I needed was buried in Part C.

I got what I needed done, with Irene’s instructions it was very easy. It only took me a couple of minutes to do it, but I had invested over an hour in learning how to do it.

This morning, I see an email from this organization in my in-box: “How would you rate your recent call experience with Irene M?”

I clicked on the link, rating Irene at a 10 out of 10 on: Did she solve your problem, was she clear in her communication, was she professional, ….. I wrote a comment about how helpful Irene had been.

The next series of questions was about the Bank. “How would you rate your experience with ……? Would you recommend our services to someone else (NPS raises it’s head again)?”

I responded with “1s” to those questions. But I was worried about how it might reflect on Irene. I thought, “Should I put higher scores, might they think the low scores for the organization were a reflection on Irene?

Fortunately, there was a comment section. I filled it in, “Be clear, Irene was a 10! Everything else about my experience was a 1….” I went on to explain my struggles and how long it took for me to get an answer.

Then they asked the question, “Would you recommend…” Again, fortunately, I could make a comment, “I would recommend Irene without hesitation! She was wonderful! However, I will actively recommend against your company (in fact, I’m looking at moving my accounts, though I suspect every other bank will be just as bad). If you cared about your customers, you wouldn’t make it so difficult to get answers to relatively simple questions.

Thank you so much Irene M!

Jun 3 21

Rethinking Qualification

by David Brock

Qualification is, perhaps, one of the most important factors to our sales success. If we chase the wrong deals, if the opportunity is an “opportunity” only in our dreams and there is little customer commitment to change, if we can’t be competitive–we waste our time and our customers.’

Sadly, most sales people do a terrible job at qualifying. As a result pipeline quality plummets, win rates plummet. And that starts the vicious cycle of finding more deals to build our pipeline, which we continue to fill with junk, and we don’t produce results.

Qualification is important to all sellers. We need to be focused on the right, highest quality deals.

In our qualification process, we focus on ourselves. Is the customer committed to doing something? Who else are they considering? Who’s involved in the process? What level of funding do they have committed? When will they make a decision? How seriously will they consider us? What is it they are looking for and what do they think about our fit?

The answers to all these questions, and more, help us decide whether we want to invest the time and resources to pursue the opportunity.

But this process is really all about us and not about the customer. And, possibly, this frames our whole approach to the opportunity, focusing on what’s good for us and less on the customer.

But our qualification process is absolutely meaningless to the customer. It creates little value for them, it doesn’t help them with the things critical to addressing the issues critical to them, or define what they need to do to successfully define and navigate their buying process.

What if we approached qualification differently? What if we created a qualification process that creates real value for the customer, as well as us? What if we looked at “qualification” as an important step for the buyer in their buying journey?

Helping the customer qualify their project might include:

  1. Helping them articulate the issues they are trying to address in a way that’s meaningful to them and their management.
  2. Helping them articulate the urgency of making the change. Doing this in a way that enables them to demonstrate the consequences of doing nothing are higher than the costs of making the change.
  3. Helping them identify the project team and the project plan, identifying the resources they need to successfully make a decision.
  4. Helping them identify when they need to have a solution in place and the consequences of not meeting the goal.
  5. Helping them get senior management commitment to support the project, articulating the business case required to gain approval/investment.
  6. Helping them identify internal and external resources they might leverage to help them in their buying process.

These are critical to the customer at the outset of the project. If they don’t do these well, the likelihood of their successful completion of the buying journey is in question. If they aren’t doing these thoughtfully, they may not be as serious about the project as they need be.

Their willingness to accept our help in addressing these issues gives us a much richer understanding of their attitudes toward us and our solutions.

In helping the customer “qualify” their project, we will always be able to get the issues we need to qualify it, and we will be creating great value in one of the most difficult parts of their buying journey.