Price is not the reason customers do not buy; customers do not buy because they do not see value in our offer. I have got to thank my colleague for this concept, cause after we decided to execute a learning and development workshop on “Leveraging Relevant Value” we had plenty of brainstorming on how people see “value”.
a sales point of view, it’s easy to mention “I understand what Value Is which we do offer most of the time, but we lose customers because we are out-priced by competition”. A Mystery, after all the only side of value that salesperson knows, is what we can do, our products, services, capabilities, reputation, and so forth. But until he knows how his customer defines value, it’s a Mystery box to him. Sure, he can approximate what they might think of in terms of value. Hopefully, product managers have spent a lot of time talking to and living with customers, so they have some idea. The salespeople also have probably sold their products and services to other similar customers and have had success within certain segments or applications, so he isn’t completely clueless. Knowing the customers’ problems, opportunities, challenges, priorities and needs, give us more insight and clues.
I do not wish to make an allegation on the salesperson, They do have a lot of information having worked with different types of customers and their own presumptive nature, they have some great sales conversation starter, but until they have explored with the customer who are involved in the buying process, value Is a Mystery box to them. It takes deep conversations with each customer involved in the buying process to de-mystify value, to learn what they value, and then to translate what a salesperson can do about creating value for them.
To start with as sales professionals lets first De-Mystify Value. Not very tough but can be done. All you have to do is probe, observe and engage in the right sales conversations with the right people.
Meanwhile I have started to think, It could be that Value Is A Mystery to our customers? The more I ponder about it, I feel I’ve been trivializing the task of determining what customers value. I’ve heard often about value being in the eye of the beholder–that is the customer. I’ve been talking about methods sales professionals can use to engage the customer and determine what they value, then present their solutions in a differentiated manner. But could it be that Value Is A Mystery to our customers?
I must admit that most salespeople are good at asking standard scripted questions, “ What are you looking for”, “ What expectations do you have from this product”, “Is it the first time that you are buying from us” etc. and customers are also equally adept at responding to these questions. In all sales development programs the participants have been asked to uncover the problems, dissatisfactions, pain area to identify needs. All these give them only assumptive clues but won’t open the Mystery box to understand what is in the customer mind.
But asking a customer directly what they value most, probably brings a blank look on the customers face or the discussion would veer back to the price. To be frank there is no standard set of questions that would make a customer give the answer that we are expecting. Many times, it is the narrative built by our competitor that he is making our sales conversation flow towards. Hence it is certainly not possible to get data just like that because I feel value is something which he isn’t even aware of. There is always a set of probable needs that he has which he articulates but not in our language. I think value has another dimension to it. I think there is an emotional element in value that we can’t just get by asking questions or collecting data. At the same time, I also feel that the value element is a mystery to the customer also. He may have not even thought about it or may not have been able to articulate it. He probably only knows the feature but the feature is only meaningful in a context–it’s that context where value becomes de-mystified.