If you have heard it once, you have heard it a hundred times, “I really like your product, but the price is just a little out of my budget. Can you drop the price by 20 percent?” Because sales professionals get this request so often, they assume that the most important thing to customers is price.
If we've learned anything at CloudCoaching International (CCI) during our 35 years of collaborating with the world’s leading sales organizations to help them become more successful, it's that this assumption is wrong. We call this a “killer assumption,” because if you rely on it, you will end up killing your profit margins and maybe even your business.
The truth is, customers don’t start out shopping for price; they don’t even start out shopping for a specific product. Instead, customers want to buy solutions that will give them the outcomes to meet their needs. We have helped our clients achieve tremendous success in closing more business at higher margins while avoiding the discounting conversation altogether. We do this by giving our clients the skills and tools to “connect the dots” for their customers and help them see that the solution being presented offers real value because it's just what they are looking for. Once the customer is convinced they have found the right solution, the price conversation usually takes care of itself.
Unfortunately, most sales professionals are not very effective in this area. If they attempt to discuss value with the customer at all, they tend to say things like:
As important as these points are to make, they don’t go far enough because they don’t clearly spell out the ultimate value of what is being offered. Selling value requires that salespeople have the ability to justify – in terms that the customer cares about – how the customer will benefit from their solution. Unless the sales professional can deliver this message and connect the dots very clearly, they leave the customer no choice but to view the solution as just another commodity where price becomes the only consideration.
Remember, the only reason a customer buys anything is because he has goals and problems that affect his business, and he needs solutions. Most concerns that become buying forces fall into three main categories, known as PPI:
Never forget: The customer is focused on one thing, his own priorities. The key question he wants answered is:
“WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”
Now, if you have done an exceptional job earlier in the conversation of asking good questions and listening carefully to the answers, you should have a very good understanding of what the customer would buy if only he could find it. Now the real fun begins: you must help him see that your proposed solution is perfectly aligned to meet those explicit needs.
You can connect the dots for your customer by using Feature-Advantage-Benefit statements (FABs) that will help the customer see the whole picture.
FABs have three parts:
Understanding how to create FAB statements to sell value over price is just one component of the Sales Mastery processes and tools we have perfected. In future articles we will share additional strategies to help you differentiate your organization from your competitors by creating a strong brand based on collaborating with the customer to help them achieve their most important objectives.