I Finally Had the Guts to Ask This Sales Question — The Answer Surprised Me – by Jill Konrath

To me, Rule #1 of Selling is to be crystal clear on your value proposition. Unless you can clearly articulate the outcomes a client gets from using your product or service, it’s nearly impossible to get them to change from the status quo.

Let me flashback to a situation that took me years to understand.

At the time, I was selling consulting services. My own. I helped companies shrink time to revenue on new product/service introductions.

Specifically, I worked with the sales teams to focus on the right opportunites, rapidly create interest, get buy-in to the business case for change — and close deals quicker.

I thought it was pretty darn compelling! But, I lacked metrics since my clients never benchmarked my approach to their old way of working — which pretty much sucked.

That’s why, after three projects with a growing division of Fortune 500 firm, I finally decided that I needed more data from my client.

I invited John, the VP of Sales to lunch, telling him I had some important questions to ask. We went to a nice place. My treat.

After chit-chatting for a while, I finally got up the gumption to ask the BIG question.

“John,” I said, “I’m trying to get a firm grasp on my business value — the difference I make for my clients. Can you tell me what I’m doing for your division that makes you keep hiring me?”

“That’s easy,” he quickly responded. “You make me see differently.”

“Can you be more explicit?” I asked.

“Nope,” he said. “When I’m with you, I think things differently.”

End of conversation. I was stymied. It was useless data. I couldn’t imagine calling a prospective client and saying, “Hi. I’m Jill Konrath. I help my clients think differently. Wanna meet?”

So I disregarded John’s message — for years, actually. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to appreciate it.

Now I totally get it — and there’s even data to support the approach I was using.

According to Forrester Research, you have a 74% chance of closing a deal if you’re the 1st vendor to create a viable vision for the future.

That’s what I was doing. I was using my value prop of “shortening time to revenue on new product launches” to set up a meeting.

In early conversations, I’d focus on what they were doing, their objectives, the challenges they faced and what they’d already tried.

Then, after a few more meetings, I’d bring them ideas on how to improve the process. They were too busy to think about it. They were just trying to get the new product out the door. I suggested ways to do it better, more effectively, faster.

I helped them see things differently.  I still do. It’s probably my greatest asset — one that I was totally blind to for decades.

So think about it: How do you help your clients see things differently?

 

Jill Konrath, sales strategist and bestselling author of Selling to Big CompaniesSNAP Selling, and Agile Sellingis a frequent speaker at annual sales meetings, kick-off events and professional conferences. Jill is a recognized as one of the premier sales & marketing Thought Leaders, and in 2012 she was honored by being made a member of Top Sales World’s Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame.

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