1. Measure wasted time in units other than time.
Poor use of time isn’t just measured by lost minutes, hours, or days; it is measured also by what you could have otherwise spent it on. Since that is a net loss (you can’t earn back lost time), people tend to not want to talk about it too much. But if you are selling a time-saving product or service, you must press the issue. Ask your prospect if they’ve ever considered what the total cost is to their business of having wasted time, slowly accumulating like drops of water in a bucket.
Consider the approach of a client of mine that sells scheduling software to medical clinics. They invite their prospects to consider the full cost of cancelled appointments beyond just the cost of lost revenue. For example: expensive equipment has to be disposed of or re-cleaned, customer-service scores are affected, and missed appointments have to be rescheduled. Here, the problem of wasted time quickly turned into tens of thousands of dollars lost every month. The solution (software, in this case) was sold as an investment that’s a fraction of that overall cost. In manufacturing, smart sellers use this approach when discussing equipment that’s not operating at full capacity. They ask questions designed to underline a meaningful problem to the customer. For example: As the hours tick by and the machines are not producing at 100% output, what’s the cost of all that wasted time?
2. Define the complete cost of overtime.
3. Illustrate production breakdowns as losses.
4. Express the multiplier effect in workplace stress.
This is a commonly overlooked place to look for value. Workplace stress tends to be thought of as an occupational hazard rather than a preventable problem. Get your prospects to look at its net cost on their operation. Ask: “How much would you say that stress translates in dollar figures on your operation in terms of sick leave, turnover, and lost productivity?” Problems only become meaningful when we can measure them in units that matter to us. Include a follow-up question with qualifiers, such as “What should it be, or what would you like it to be?” Their answer to the second question is where you value becomes evident.
As you can see, fixing the fatal flaw in defining value requires the customer to fully define all the costs associated with the problem, as well as to make a statement on what value an improvement will create. By asking what should it be, you monetize the value that customers expect to receive from you. By doing this, you help them build the justification for your price.
“When qualifying prospects or customers, you must clearly define the difference between where they are today and where they want to be.”