In this installment of A Sales Leader’s Guide to Selling Value, we are going to talk about the second key to executing a value creation selling approach which is solving the customer’s business challenges. However, before we get into the details of Key #2, let’s review why Key #1, Understanding What the Customer Values Most, is so critical to value creation selling.
Have you ever been solicited by a sales person offering you a solution to problems or challenges you did not have? For most, the answer is yes. When this happens, the sales person is assuming or guessing you have certain challenges because you fit a certain profile. Then, they jump to offer you a solution which addresses a challenge that you don’t actually have. To execute a value creation selling approach, the key is to provide the customer solutions that help the customer overcome their most pressing challenges. The only way to do that is by completely understanding what the customer values most.
Discovery and relationship building
Truly understanding the customer’s values requires a tremendous investment of time in discovery and relationship building. However, this investment pays off in the form of a more accurate understanding of the business challenges the customer is facing. Once you have understood the challenges:
- Determine the Root Cause(s): To determine the root causes of the customer’s challenges, take the customer’s current state and desired future state. Then, ask yourself what changes does the customer have to make to meet its desired future state? The answers to that question are the root causes of the customer’s challenges. They are what is preventing the customer from accomplishing their value priorities and should be the focus of our solution.
- Develop the Solutions: At this point we know the root causes of the challenges that are preventing the customer from achieving its most important goals. We should now consider how to use our intelligence to develop a solution. Our intelligence is the organizational knowledge we have of our products, services, market and customers. Harnessing this intelligence is the key to developing the most valuable solution for our customers.
Focus on developing a solution
We should be focused on is developing a solution that solves the customer’s challenges. Like Key #1, Understanding What the Customer Value Most, this keeps us even with or ahead of our completion. Key #1 and Key #2 alone will not win us the business, but poor execution of either can certainly lose it. Understanding the customer’s values and solving the customer’s business challenges are key building blocks of value creation selling.
Once we have executed Keys #1 and #2, we still haven’t done anything the competition couldn’t match. It is at this stage where we separate ourselves from the competition. If we do not, there is no reason for the customer to switch suppliers or pay a higher price. Please see Key #3 from a Sales Leader’s Guide to Selling Value: Differentiating and Quantifying the Value Delivered.