For our June Webinar, a panel of expert practitioners shared their secrets to initiating and scaling value selling within their organizations. To conclude the webinar, they answered some questions from the audience, read by our moderator Peyton Marshall. Here are their live answers:
- Laurent Gambier, Pricing Director, Schneider Electric
- Paolo De Angeli, Pricing Group Expert, Borealis
- Marian Desimone, Business Value Expert, Dun and Bradstreet
- Tinique Lenderman, Director of Customer Success and Value Selling Advisory, LeveragePoint
Let’s start with the challenges of getting good value content. As you work with teams, I’m sure you face a number of challenges in actually quantifying value. What do you do to address those?
Laurent Gambier: There are quite a few challenges obviously. To create good value content, it starts with a good understanding of our customers’ operations, of their needs, and a good understanding of their competitive environments. If I pick the example of our new digital services offer, that competition is not so easy to really get a key understanding of. Competitive pricing is also a challenge because you have no clue what new digital services are priced at. Those are definitely precious inputs to creating value models. Of course, once you know that, it’s about making sure that you create offers that bring meaningful differentiation to customers. It’s not so easy to be meaningfully innovative, so I would say that’s a challenge. How do we address that? We’re going to make sure that our voices of customers are very robustly designed that we can really grasp the essence of our customer’s need through them and, of course, make sure we interpret them correctly.
Also important is that we go through some sort of structured acknowledgement of our differentiation. For that, usually we use a tool by the name of MOCA, which stands for Metrics of Competitive Advantages. The tool combines multiple stakeholders from marketing, sales, and business development to really acknowledge that this offer is differentiated and, for that offer, that value based pricing makes sense because there is some tendency to want to apply value based pricing dogmatically to any kind of offer and that is sometimes a mistake. The structured assessment of the differentiation label is something that help the confirmation that value based pricing your price and it definitely helps with building up the value models, again, out of that differentiation assessment.
Paolo Di Angeli: Well, maybe we can connect again to what we said before. One of the biggest challenges I encountered in this exercise was how to proceed without having all the information. This was one of the biggest push backs I received at the beginning. How can I go to a customer if I don’t know this particular number in their production process? What we learned is that we don’t need that number. We need a strong through process to explain to the customer that we really tried to get to a realistic number, which is fair enough to start the conversation, but then it started with a conversation that together we validated this number and then together we get to integrate value quantification. This is my recommendation.
Marian talked about the design of value propositions and the design of a good value presentation. Tinique, when you think about designing presentations for engagement, what do you think about?
Tinique Lenderman: I think it should have nothing to do with me and everything to do with who I’m making it for. It’s funny, you hear yourself saying, “I, me, us, or your company name,” you’ve got to shift and think about it from a customer perspective. I always think about this question. Let’s say if we can improve your operational processes or cost by 10%, my next question is, “So what?” We should be able to answer that so what. In order to do that, we have to know about the customer, and what their challenges are. I want to know what problems they’re faced with before going into anything else. I can have a hypothesis at times, because we know the persona and we have a general idea of what their typical challenges are in that role. I’m going to build a hypothesis around that and it’s going to be around them and those particular challenges.
Marian, you strongly emphasized simple is best. Anything to add to that?
Marian DeSimone: Well you’ll know when you show it to a good, high-rated seller the first time and if they can’t grasp your content you’re in trouble. It should be an immediate, “This makes sense. I can talk to this. I understand.” As soon as you have to spend more than five minutes explaining how you evolved to that hypothesis, you need to revisit it.
I think Paolo emphasized this question of exact customer data and not necessarily needing it. I wonder what others have found in terms of the need to get the data right. Tinique?
Tinique Lenderman: In those initial conversations, you’re going to do your homework. A lot of the time it’s really important that we do our homework and we understand the customer because you can’t talk about value if you don’t know what’s important to them. You should be able to make a hypothesis and then I think it’s a great opportunity to say, “This is a hypothesis. I’m not sure if this is exactly where you’re at, but let’s go ahead and put your numbers in here and your data and your metrics in here.”
Marian, you come from a data company. What do you say when salespeople say they need to get the data right?
Marian DeSimone: Yeah, we actually faced that as a challenge because they were so used to being able to analyze the customer’s data and have all this rich information. The thought of going into something and not having it completely locked down — that was a mindset shift for our sellers to be able to understand the value and the richness of data with your customer. A lot is disclosed by the customer that they would never give you as far as insight. It comes to a point where you want that number that eventually gets landed on to be mutually agreed to, not one party bearing down on the other and forcing it. I always say the secret sauce is in the actual dialogue between the customer around the metrics.