We now live in a transparent world where no B.S. is allowed or tolerated. The need for honesty and truth in every sales pitch is now mandatory. Likewise, facts can be checked almost instantly in side-by-side product comparisons. We now have to know the facts and not the assumptions.
Pricing is a constant concern. Sales associates, like their managers, have to know the exact spot where their “minimum mark” on each and every transaction is. They need to be complimented, not criticized, for walking away from an order below that mark.
Selling value, not price, is the goal. And it is hard – very hard – to do.
The most frustrating words a sales associate can hear are: “We can buy that for far less on the Internet.” At NSCA, our members constantly ask for a good response to that phrase.
- Salesperson: “Who will install and provide the warranty?
- Client: “Our IT staff can install those displays and cameras when they aren’t busy with programming or networking problems.”
- Salesperson: “Sounds like you’re all set, and will save some money doing it yourself. Call me when you need something else. But I didn’t realize that your IT folks were trained on this type of system. Or that you had workers’ comp insurance to cover programmers using ladders to install displays.”
- Client: “Wait a minute … what was that last part?”
The point is that we need to keep educating our sales associates about all the little things that provide value, such as the SOC codes that insurance companies use to manage workers’ comp insurance rates/claims. Once we lay all that out for customers, the “do-it-internally” option doesn’t seem so attractive anymore. (And that is just one example out of dozens we can offer.)
If your sales associate quotes a product that can be purchased through Internet without first checking the Internet himself, what should happen next? You bring them in for sales training 101. If it happens a second time, you set them free.
Customers will always want to itemize and price out hardware. Good salespeople will want to bundle and package. So what happens when your sales associate says: “Our policy is not to break out the pricing – we offer only an installed price with labor and warranty included”? The client fires back, “We only buy on price and need everything itemized.”
Here’s what should be running through the salesperson’s mind: “I represent a value-added systems integration company that offers advanced technology solutions that allow your business to excel in what it does, and lets you focus on what you do best.”
But what’s really running through his mind is: “I wonder how much trouble I would be in if I took 10 points off this deal?”
The reaction to this should be driven from the company culture, and from the top down. Rarely have I ever seen a company that is successful at being both a value-added integration firm and a low-cost box sales company. In fact, I don’t know of any that are still in business. The overhead, cost structure, and selling expenses just don’t allow it anymore.
The biggest adaptation for the sales associate to this transparent world we live in is the additional sales training and education required to overcome objections to the low-price vs. best-value methods of selling. Even really good salespeople could become much better by adapting to this new type of client and using updated methods suited for selling solutions rather than products. -Chuck Wilson, Executive Director, NSCA (excerpt from The New Rules of Customer Engagement by Daniel Newman)