We designed and implemented a formal value selling methodology at Oracle and I was tangentially involved with another effort more recently.
Here’s the thing about value selling. It’s not just a methodology…an approach to selling. It is a mindset, a way that sales people (and others) think about preparing for, and engaging with customers. To be successful, the mindset has to be present in everything the sales person does, or the initiative fails.
Here’s the rub — everyone else in the organization, and most of the practices and processes, is either product-centric or transactional in nature.
If you train your sales people to engage with customers focused on the business benefits of reducing risk and fraud, and your product managers focus on speeds and feeds, product/service attributes, a cognitive dissonance is created. Then the rep’s manager focuses on inspection and forward movement of the opportunity, talking about pricing and contract terms. Obviously, the latter is important, but frequently it is delivered in opposition to the value selling approach/mindset.
At Oracle, the sales engineer was my primary line of reinforcement. I coached them to ask reps: “Do you have a business value hypothesis…”. If the rep hadn’t done the work to create a value perspective, I coached the SE to decline joining them on the sales call. The first line sales manager was my second line of reinforcement, providing a lot of coaching on business value.
We had the benefit of high level executive support for our value selling approach. It helped that many senior sales executives had risen from the ranks, had been trained on value selling and saw their average deal size grow dramatically.
Conversely, in a more recent situation, value selling was deemed a “good thing to do.” And it was done. Well done, by some very senior and knowledgeable people, people who have done it well elsewhere. But it was not supported in the field by sales management, it had little to no real executive support, and product management had to be coached, over and over, to recast their product enablement assets to be more supportive of a value selling approach. It has not really taken hold and as a result has delivered little real value.
So…value selling is a mindset, one that has to be shared by all the relevant stakeholders, and actively supported by senior management. And as such, your primary challenge is that of change management. How will you to change the hearts and minds of the stakeholders so that your investment in value selling pays off, so that sales people can focus on the value to be co-created with customers?
Looking forward to your comments!