For our August Webinar, Bob Apollo, Chief Outcomes Officer at Inflexion-Point, explored ways to make a rational and emotional case for change through value and outcome-based selling. After the session, he answered questions from the webinar audience. In this blog, we share his live answers.
Do you find varying levels of maturity of outcome-centric strategies across different industries?
Yeah. This is a really interesting question. Yes, I think there is a clear differentiation across industries, but also within industries. Some organizations have gotten into the concept of focusing on outcomes ahead of their competitors, and I like to think that’s bringing them a competitive advantage.
I think one of the things you’d look for in saying “is this or that industry is ahead of the curve in adopting an outcome centric approach?” is that any industry or any organization that is embracing and selling what they do as a service rather than as an outright sale almost has to understand the real importance of what the customer is accomplishing, what they’re achieving, what the renewable drivers are. So I think that’s one thing: industries that are moving towards a subscription rather than an outright sale model are probably at the front of the curve here.
Which of the four key questions do you most often find frontline salespeople struggling to answer?
Many salespeople feel pretty confident with the “why you?” questioning. What I have observed though, is they very often will be inclined to rush from the customer expressing a need to pitching their solution and delivering the “why us?” story and the related questions that might fuel that. My observation is they do better when they resist that “itch to pitch,” an in a very disciplined way, stick with the problem, ask those “why change?” questions, which allow them to determine and shape just how likely it is that the customer is going to do anything.
Now I’ll make this observation – it is particularly important if the customer is in a discretionary rather than an inevitable purchase. If it’s an inevitable purchase, “the why change” narrative is maybe a little bit less important. But if there’s any chance that this project might get a bounced by another investment, or if there’s any chance that the customer might just stick with what they’ve got, then the salesperson becoming really confident with sticking with “why change?” and building that narrative is so, so important.
When you work with clients who say they already create value stories, what elements are most often missing?
I think one of the areas that is either missing or weak, if it isn’t focused on properly, is the consequences of inaction. Sometimes you see value stories that are really focused on the upside – why you should choose us and you can achieve better future outcomes – and don’t always pay enough attention to what would happen if the customer did nothing. So I think the cost and consequences of inaction are sometimes underplayed and under-recognized, even in organizations that are otherwise doing a fairly decent job of sort of presenting the value of change. It’s the sort of cost of continuity versus the value of change.