Monday, May 2, 2011

Beyond Solution Selling: Creating Value For the Prospect

Bob Apollo over at Inflection Point posted a terrific blog entry last week in which he cites a Forrester Research finding that only 1 in 8 B2B sales meetings create any useful value for the prospect.

That's less than 15% of the time. Ouch.

Creating Value Creates Business
So what are these sales meetings about then? Collecting information (no value to prospect) or Collating information (possibly some value for the prospect). Apollo goes on to recommend training sales people to be Value Creators:

"If your sales people are to generate real value for their prospects, if they are to be creators, rather than merely collectors or collators, they need to help shape their prospect’s vision of a more productive future. They need to challenge, and to constructively provoke their prospects. They need to develop distinctive points of view that set them apart from all the other sales people calling upon the prospect....present insights and information in a way that encourages the prospect to challenge their status quo and acknowledge the need for change."

The Need for Change
Note the emphasis on bringing a prospect to the need for change. Other research has shown that "do nothing" is often a B2B company's main competition. If a prospect is to be moved to spend time and money on a new solution, especially in this economy, simply presenting a case is usually not enough. Hence the second emphasis: provocation.

The Need for Courage
And the provocation approach takes guts on the part of the sales force because it's as easy to turn off a prospect with this approach as it is to move them to action. It takes guts on the organization's part too, because if they back up their provocative salespeople, they are acknowledging that they might be turning away business. And that's bad, right?

The Reward:The Best Customers
No, it's not bad, and here's why: If you're being provocative in ways that resonate with your brand and true competitive advantage, then the prospects who will truly benefit from your product or service will be naturally attracted to your provocations. Result, better customers. Ones who are easier to work with, who will value what you do and what you provide, who will become advocates for your product/service once the project is over, and who will become repeat business over time.

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