The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

the-one-thing-salespeople-can't-do

Can you guess what it is - the one thing most salespeople are unable to do?

Based on what I most frequently write about, you might think that it would be consultative selling, but that's not it.  You might also guess that it's the sales equivalent of eating right - not doing demos and presentations so early in the sales process. But that's not it either.

However, there really is one thing that all but the most elite salespeople are unable to do.  It is partly a result of their inability to sell consultatively while continuing to demo, present, quote and propose too early.  Can you guess what it is now?

Most salespeople can talk about their value proposition, and they can certainly add something of value, but they are unable to provide value - enough value so that their prospects will pay more to do business with them.  I'm not just talking about salespeople selling value, I'm talking about salespeople being the value!

How huge is this problem and how hot is this topic right now?

In just the past week, it has been the host's topic of choice on 2 radio shows on which I was the guest, the topic of 2 articles I was asked to write, the topic of two keynotes I was asked to give, and the topic of an upcoming presentation my team will conduct (you're invited!) later this month.  Is this a hot topic or what?

The inability to sell value is nothing new though...it has been going on for decades.  What's different now is that so many people care so much about it.  Why do you suppose that it's suddenly so important?

[Insert your answer in the comments below.]  I'll give you my answer right here.

Only one company in each product category can be the low price leader and they have to sell shit-loads of their stuff to make any money.  Everyone else must fight for the business that may not go to the low price leader.  Some try to get the business by competing on price, while others try to get the business by attempting to justify a higher price.  That's where it's essential for companies and their salespeople to sell value.  And most aren't very good at it.  So companies are getting fed up with making very short money on the business they are winning, while losing a much larger number of opportunities than they care to admit.  For most, this is a losing battle that can't continue.  Therefore, one of three things will occur:

  1. They will give up, shut the doors, and go away.
  2. They will give in, lower their prices, and try to make it up on volume.
  3. They will give us (or someone else) a call and get some help selling value.

If only it was that easy.

There are many reasons why salespeople aren't able to sell value.  The categories include, but aren't limited to:

  • Lack of alignment on Philosophy,
  • Unclear, ineffective and/or inconsistent Strategy,
  • Useless and ineffective Tactics,
  • The mission can't be supported by salespeople's Sales DNA,
  • Salespeople have Sales Skill Gaps, and/or
  • The Sales Process does not support and/or reinforce a value sale.

I don't have the space to write in detail about each of these categories in this article, but there are some things you can do that will help:

Buyers will continue to drive prices down until salespeople learn how to stop it, or companies start dropping like flies.  The time has come to stop the squeezing.  Won't you join me in putting an end to the madness?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling value, overcoming price objections, value selling,, Evan Carmichael

Why Your Lowest Price Can Be a Barrier to Closing Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 02, 2012 @ 17:08 PM

Price Comparison and Sales ContextIt's not really the price as much as it's the context for which that price is provided.  Let's take mobile apps for example.

$9.99 on its own seems very inexpensive, but with apps available for $3.99, $1.99, $.99 and even free, it's expensive - by comparison.  Look at the moon - we think it's fairly large, but when you look at it in comparison to Earth and Mercury's moon, it's a blip in the sky!

Let's look at a more complex service with a much higher price tag.  If the salesperson says that their solution is only $5,000 per person, the prospect immediately views this as an expense - and a costly one at that.  How can they justify spending on average $5,000 per person?  However, if the salesperson says, "We can help you recover $3 million in lost revenue and solve your customer retention problem for around $50,000 over the next 8-12 months", it sounds like a bargain and a no-brainer.  The reality is that the $50,000 solution could be more costly even than the $5,000 per person solution.  But the context, the perceived value and expected result are different.

It's not about prices, presentations or building value; it's about putting prices in the context of what those prices will buy.  Compare the two examples above and you'll see both the answer and the obstacle.  The answer is the context.  The obstacle is that your salespeople may not be learning what the compelling reason is for their prospects to spend the money.  Without the compelling reason, it's impossible to replace the red-bolded words above with the words your salespeople need to use.

Another potential obstacle, but hidden this time, is that some of your salespeople are uncomfortable having financial discussions with their prospects.  Those salespeople won't be able to get to the quantification of the problem.  And what about the salespeople who need to be liked?  They can't ask the tough questions and become emotional if they go out on a limb and ask.  These are three of the many hidden weaknesses that OMG often finds when evaluating sales forces.

You can teach and coach on most strategies and tactics, but when your salespeople aren't able to execute one that was properly introduced and demonstrated through role-play, you can be sure that there is a hidden weakness to blame.

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales evaluation, sales personality, hidden sales weaknesses, selling value, overcoming price objections

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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