As I have stated multiple times, in the past, I have came across multiple salespeople. There are salespeople who are money motivated, those who are solutions-oriented, and those who are devious in their approach for purposes of generating new accounts. All of these types of individuals have a particular reason why they sell.
After all, sales is the single most effective way to actually make some good money. If you sell, you make money. But it's how you sell which determines your particular type of motivation.
Now, I'll start with an ethical position. First and foremost, selling a product or service needs to be for purposes of solving a problem. Let's look at buying a car. How many times have you been directed to a car that was not what you were looking for, not ideal in your specifics, and not a solution that solved your challenges. When I shop for a vehicle, I look for a vehicle that is fuel efficient, a vehicle I plan to drive into the ground, meaning I'll pay $6,000 for a fuel efficient car I can drive for 3-4 years and totally devalue the vehicle. I have yet to find an auto sales consultant to find me a solution that inspires me to look at a $15,000 vehicle, which is usually what I am pointed to. Did they attempt to solve my problems? No. They were looking to get me in a higher priced vehicle that produced greater commissions for them, and in return put me in a vehicle that would devalue at a much greater rate than a $4,500 - $6,000 car that is true value and would devalue at it's particular rate of miles, wear and tear -- vs yearly depreciation.
I worked for a company 2 years ago that was all about selling, selling, selling. I am good at getting appointments. I could get them in bunches. I was able to get appointments, then the sales manager would request to put me on the phone with the decision maker. He would push them, push them, and say, "We need to do this, you need to this" and spout off multiple untruthful scenarios for the business owner. In the end, the clients would call me and say, "Dude, what the hell... why are my fees more than what you said? Why are they increasing month after month?" I would look like the bad guy.
I, then, started selling for another company with a seasoned representative. He would break down the pricing, breakdown the need to understand WHY they needed to get a solution that fit their needs, then explained the industry and how they exploit smaller companies and take advantage of them, lock them into contracts and how they make money. I learned this process, and have since been utilizing this approach to build value.
Now, I work on building value by solving problems. In past experiences, I would price sell to get accounts. I would slide in and beat their prices by 20% and get the new account. It was great. But, when I needed to get some real accounts, the price sale wasn't as effective. They were looking to have their problems solved. I learned this REALLY quick. I then had to reassess my positioning and find new ways to have my products and services solve real world business problems.
Today, I make sure to ask questions. I like to find out what pains them with their current solution. What works for them, what they like, what doesn't work, and what they do not like. I also like to take it a step further and find out where they intend to take their company in the future. I make sure I have a solution that is scalable. A solution that will grow with them as they gain more customers, more sales, and more employees. There are times when a simple solution works for them now, but may become obsolete when they start selling $50,000 - $60,000 per month. We need to get beyond price selling.
In short, if you're solving problems, you're actually building value and becoming an expert with a solution that your prospect sees value in. I'm an experienced business consultant, and utilize that experience to help them understand how this solution impacts their technology, sales, expenses, management, operations, productivity, and finances in the long run. If you look at a solution that helps you increase your sales, that's ideal. When you reduce expenses, this allows room for them to invest in other areas to increase productivity, or increase sales. How about speaking about management. What if you could help them gather data, scrub that data and make real life business decisions about how they manage their employees, supply chain and customers? What if there were a technology that was 10% higher in price but increased productivity by 27%, is that solution worth the investment?
As salespeople we need to break the clutter of devious salespeople selling a price-sensitive solution to becoming an expert and building value. We can build value by addressing their critical deficit areas. Whenever a prospect says, "That's too much money", or "Can we skim an extra $100 off the top, somehow?" I like to stop in my tracks and go back. I'll say, "I'm sorry. I really must have failed to build the value of this solution. I want to make sure I'm getting you something that's going to build your business. If $100 is your problem, I wouldn't do this. If you're worried about $100, you don't want to do this. If $100 is your problem with my solution, you have a much bigger problem than $100." I'm talking about increasing your sales by 22% and decreasing your expenses. What does that NET look like?" I make sure it is very clear that it is an investment they're purchasing vs my solution becoming an expenses they put on the financial statement. I want it to become something they look at as a system to help them grow, a system to help support their goals, vs having a few items they price-match and go with the lowest price.
Your Friend and Favorite Consultant
Curtis DeCora is the Chief Executive Officer with Optimize Business Solutions and also a Senior Account Executive with Integra Business. The experience and expertise is backed by 8 years of B2B sales, starting 44 small businesses, and helping clients save an average of $9,381/year.