For our July Webinar, Rick Cantril shared his experience initiating, dialing up, and maintaining Value Selling at scale, improving win rates by 10% and decreasing sales cycles by 50-75%.
At the end of the session, he answered a handful of audience questions, but there were several that we were unable to get to in the allotted time. In this blog, Rick shares part one of his responses to the remaining questions.
When did you start tracking the results of value selling? How did you do it? What results are you seeing?
We have tracked results since the inception of the program. We did this using several systems where we created a unique identifying data element for deals, products, or individuals using LeveragePoint. This allowed us to follow our sample of LeveragePoint data against control data not using LeveragePoint (i.e., our normal operations).
While our experience has seen a number of positive statistics (e.g., increased win rates, less price variance, and reduced sales cycle time), I recommend considering that behaviors are driven by what you track, and I strongly recommend forming a multi-year strategy to determine what is important at your different stages of maturity. Too much focus on revenue too early, may incentivize your users to neglect building content or ensuring the quality of the content. Too much emphasis on win rates may incentivize your leaders to avoid difficult client relationships (possibly missing big opportunities) or solutions in challenging markets (which may need value analysis the most).
The best advice I can give is to get an agreement with key stakeholders on a long-term perspective for implementing a value strategy program and agree to a holistic list of key performance indicators with the goal of incrementally advancing all over time without any “gotchas.” Organizations tend to have very stubborn, incumbent cultures, and introducing a new paradigm will most certainly face resistance.
How do you get feedback from salespeople? What have you learned by getting feedback?
If you want to incrementally improve your key performance indicators, you must have candid, detailed, and plentiful feedback. This means you need to create an environment where any team member (sales or otherwise) genuinely feels comfortable sharing accurate feedback.
We used several different channels to collect feedback including focus groups, one-on-one contextual inquiries, post-training roundtables, surveys, and a dedicated mailbox. Over the years, having many open lines of communication has taught us two things: (1) we have learned how to best prioritize where we need training or other direct project support; and (2) we have learned team members reach out and ask for help rather than giving up more often if they have a way to share feedback (thus, keeping our momentum and growth consistent).
Have there been any challenges in getting C-suite buy-in and support? Any experiences or approaches you would share?
Succeeding with your senior leadership team is really no different than delighting your most important clients. In fact, that might be the best advice I can offer in this area. That is, treat your senior leaders like your most important clients. Generally, they want you to provide them with a reasonable return on their investment, so you need to create a program that demonstrates that return in a very unambiguous way.
In my experience, I have never seen a leader fail to immediately recognize the merits of this approach. After all, economic value analysis has been mainstream for several decades now and has ample academic and practitioner evidence supporting its effectiveness. If I were to guess, I would think only leaders who wish to pursue a different organizational strategy (e.g., low-cost leadership) would not accept this approach, but if that is the case, a value-based tool would not work anyway.
Do you stay involved in customer presentations at this stage? How do you pick your spots?
Do I personally remain involved in client presentations at this stage? Yes, but that is a personal choice and part of my strategy. The approach you take may be quite different depending on your industry norms, personal style, or organization. I could just as easily see your implementation leading to presales/business development taking the lead as the primary subject matter experts interfacing with clients/customers.
How do my team and I pick our spots? Through a steep learning curve, we have a pretty good idea of our maximum bandwidth now, and we proactively identify the most important opportunities for the company and get involved early. If requests come to us and are out of this focused scope, we redirect users to a vast number of alternatives including champions in their local business unit, self-service tools (e.g., tutorial videos or training videos), or templates from comparable opportunities that can serve as a guide.