Value Selling Techniques

Jane and Joe – 2 Customer Stories

Forewords : The views and opinions expressed below are my own and are intended to understand the practical aspect of value selling and trying to bridge the gap between TOGAF 9 Framework and Value Selling Methodologies. This Blog is my attempt to learn value selling and not to teach value selling to anyone. Also let me make it clear i am not promoting any of the Brands, the names used in all my blogs are for name sake..

How a good sales person works …

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=einnuXmDfZ0]

Jane’s Home Theater Story – shes always been an intelligent buyer she wanted to set up a top class home theater system . she went to Sony bought Sony Bravia HD TV, Sony Home Theater with Blu ray Player .. next day Service engineer came and he hooked up her home theater system and everything was well connected and well placed , she is a happy customer . she wanted a top class home theater system and she got one.

Joe’s Home Theater Story – He is an Electronics engineer understands some technology and best of breeds of new AV products. He bought Samsung Standard Definition TV, Onkyo HT System, LG Bluray player . all were the best that his money could buy . once he got all those on same day ,

he had problems

    1. Problems getting engineers from 3 different companies
    2. Problems connecting equipments , cause each followed different standards, some wires were missing he missed buying them.
    3. Problems understanding how they all put together work
    4. The output of HT System was 7.1 channel where as the output Blu Ray player was 5.1 and this resulted in loss of sound clarity
    5. He was not able to connect HDMI cable because his TV was not HD TV where as his Blu ray player gave HD output and had to connect simple AV cable .. this resulted in loss of picture clarity
    6. He lost his money in the process …

Even though he had more or less same budget as Jane had , He messed up with his buying decision , now the situation is vendors are not able replace back anything and he cant buy one more set ..

Sounds similar ? well its a fictious story – never mind fighting with me for those brand names .. but its a one such customer experiance where technology out smarted his buying decisions .

Why this happened ?

He did not discuss this with anyone and No one under stood what exactly was he up to , the person who was selling TV sold him what he wanted so did the other sales men .. no one tried to understand what he wanted in the end .

What and Why Value Selling

We start with the assumption that we are Employees of James Smith Inc (JSI) . We are a Sales Group who are Selling Consumer Electronics from All Brands , also ensure that we have satisfied customers and higher ROI to our management and meet our Business Goals

having said that, We not only sell customers consumer electronics to our customers but also help Enterprise Organizations to have their Electronics and Communications set up at large scale.

Why Value Selling is needed

  1. Consumer Electronics is a huge industry and at JSI we have 100 different companies selling 100 different products to 1000’s of our customers (Individual and Corporate Customers), As a trusted company we need to ensure that we not only sell what our customers want but also ensure that we have happy customers end of the day and their actual requirements are met.
  2. Value selling not only helps us understand customer business in depth but also help us up-sell some of our other products and solutions that the customer had initially not thought about but needed it to meet their Goals.
  3. Develop strong rapport and trust with our customers this is important for JSI’s Business
  4. Skills to handle Customer Objections so that we proceed further in our selling life cycle.
  5. Understand and Value Customers Time with Qualitative discussion
  6. Asking right questions and setting right expectations with our customers.
  7. Being Customer Centric.
  8. Greater level of communication and response.
  9. Understand Customers language of value, for someone having high Audio performance is important , for someone having reduced cost on over all purchase is important, for someone getting the entire system connected up and running with in short span of time is important , for someone branded products are important so its important to understand who needs what more.
  10. Conducting useful discovery session

Customer Centric View (TOGAF View & Viewpoints)

People in the same organization see the same business problem differently , you need to put yourself in their shoes to understand where it pinches literally :-)

Individual Customer

  1. Joe is interested in Home theater system to enjoy his FM Radio channels
  2. Joe’ s mom is getting older she is interested in having bigger and clearer TV
  3. Joe’ s dad is having Budget Constraints , His Business is not doing great and he was to spend as less as possible
  4. Joe’s Brother is interested in having Top Brands in his home , so that he can show off to his friends
  5. Joe’s Sister wants a play station and says why boys should have all the fun .
  6. So …. what are you going to sell them that the entire Joe family is happy ??? ! ? !!**

Common Goals – Top class home entertainment with in their budget

Corporate Customer

  1. CEO wants Organization Growth, Success on his new Business Ventures
  2. COO wants Business Continuity, Improvement in Operational efficiency,  Speed and Performance
  3. CTO wants Technology Compliance ,
  4. CFO wants reduced costs, free Support, Multi licenses, no risks, Regulatory requirements met

Common Goals – Success of Organization

TOGAF 9

People , Process and Technology (TOGAF Change Management)

Individual Case : Joe’s mother knows only 3 buttons in the TV remote control , Power On , Change Channel, Change Volume – thats the best she can afford to learn in her TV viewing 15 year experiance she is happy with it. Joe being a high tech guy bought a new TV which works heavily on internet gets dynamic video content from the web, content is fed based on demand, this does not work with remote control but instead works with his computer key board and mouse clicks.

Joe’s mother has problem with it – she no longer can watch TV as she does not know how to operate a computer system and she now has to go next door to watch TV or call someone for help .

This is an example where people are directly affected by technology changes.

Government Sector Case: Today my dad had been to property tax office, based on his old receipt the tax collector pulled a old file off the dust. With in couple of mins he opened my dads ledger documents and did some calculations and collected the tax money gave receipt, It took around 20 mins to do so.

Last year dad had been to another office to pay tax they were “IT Enabled” the gentle men sitting there had been to Computer Training Class and it took them around 20 mins to figure out how to find my dads old documents. It took 15 more mins to enter data, and since there was a network failure dad was told to collect the recepits next day. People behind him had to wait much longer and return back dissapointed … A case where technology can make life more miserable for people.. cause most of the people from tax office we accustomed to collect money using older system and change to IT system was a technical tragidy to them.

So we are in Business where we just cant sell Technology – we need to understand people and process who are directly impacted with the change is Business Goals or Technology changes.

People Aspect:

  • Changes in Technology or Business can impact people directly
  • Some of the changes are to make people more efficient in what they do at work.
  • Understanding Impacted Peoples Skill level might be a requirement but need not nessasarily mean we have solutions for all people based problems
  • Trainings Needs, Cultural background are sensitive issues worth knowing them

Process Aspect:

  • Change in process are mostly done to improve the process to meet business goals
  • Change in process can directly or indirectly impact Business partners, Suppliers, Distributors and Customers.
  • Change in process has to ensure business continuity

Technology Aspect:

  • Technology is an Enabler helps to achieve business goals
  • Technology is competitive we can offer a technology at a particular price , our compitator can offer set of more technologies and solutions at lower cost
  • Technology can not be only aspect that needs to be considered in Selling or Buying decisions

So, if we understand customers people , process and technology aspects how can we add value to our selling life cycle.

  • This would ensure that our understand is as near as their requirement
  • This would help us build customer confidence in us , in helping them build their solution.
  • We can have positive account with the customer that would help us help them not only in solution implementation but also in solution planning and business strategy
TOGAF 9

Business Lifecycle

Above we saw Sad Joe’s Home Theatre Story , As a Sales Person at JSI could we have helped him in his buying decision ? Yes why not. thats why we are here,

Joe got involved with us at last stage where he had already planned everything about the things that he wanted to buy. Had he consulted and discussed with us during planning stage we would have given him better options and also help him set up a great home theatre system with in his budget.

So how is Individual customers typical buying life

  1. Set up his goals – Highest Level (I need to buy AC, Home theater system, Car etc )
  2. Survey the market for best of breed products,
  3. Plan his buying
  4. Allocate Budget
  5. Buy and Start Using – Lowest Level

if we look at a bigger picture or a bigger enterprise the typical business cycle starts with

  1. Setting up Business Goals – Highest Level
  2. Plan Business Strategy ( Mergers and Acquisitions, Expansions if needed)
  3. New Business Initiatives
  4. New IT Initiatives to Enable and Support Business Initiatives
  5. Budget the Requirement ,
  6. Set time frames
  7. Invest in requirements
  8. Execute the planned Business and IT Initiatives
  9. Measure Success in achieving the already set Business Goals – Lowest Level

Most of the Vendors and Sellers are invited during last stages when customer has already decided what to buy. This can not only make customer take wrong decisions but also impact the seller.

Vendor (or Seller) Impacts

  1. Vendor is at higher risk of having sold something which the customer might not be actually intended to have or result in customer dissatisfaction
  2. Vendor is unaware of bigger picture what customer is planning,
  3. Vendor could have advised various aspects of other solutions (or products) to the buyer had he know things before.
  4. This creates opportunity for single customer having multiple vendors, end of the day vendor has lesser pie of total business and customer has to struggle with multiple vendors to get things done and protect his investments.

Moving Vertically Higher in the Customers Buying life-cycle

  1. This would help vendor plan and showcase various options with the customer
  2. Plan along with the customer so that they both are successful
  3. Higher level of responsibility to ensure customers success.
  4. Lower the Buyers Risk
  5. Bigger share of Business Pie.
  6. Long term mutual trust factor between the customer and seller.
TOGAF 9

Business Context

Its very difficult and almost next to impossible to understand human brain, but having said that great sales deals are made based on not only good understanding of customer requirements but also understanding their brain and their trust in us.

Assume that Joe had come to us early and we knew that Sony Home Theatre system is best fit for his budget and requirement , could that suggestion made him happy ? We dont know.

Human Brain has its own filters

  1. What if he had bad experience with Sony Products and their customer support ?
  2. What if he had financial constraints to buy costly products and he is looking for cheaper alternativies
  3. What if his friend is working in Samsung and he intends to buy samsung TV
  4. What if he is under heavy pressure to buy a particular model as his elder brother advised him to do so
  5. What if he does not trust us
  6. We don’t know answer to all those question

However what we can do is , try and understand him more not just his requirements, try to get his confidence in our solution , through our behavoir and expertise. The golden rule is if he is willing to talk and has his options open , then his filters must not be a road blocker.

Pillars of Business Value

Expectations :

  1. Setting right and correct expectation is very important , most often people deliver less than customer expectation or mess up expectations.
  2. Meeting or exceeding expectations is very important so that we have positive impact on customers buying decision.
  3. Expectations in our business (JSI Inc.) can be as simple as being honest with Customer Support, Actual Product lifespan, Selling Price, Previous customer experiences etc
  4. Some times it may worth telling bad as bad, for example if you feel customer support of a particular brand is bad be honest with the customer in telling that, he may not buy that brand but he might trust you more , this eventually might be responsible for his buying decisions.

Environment and Circumstances:

  1. They can be critical too, what if a particular brand has stopped manufacturing spare parts would it be advisable on our side to sell that brand to our customer ?
  2. What if customer had budget constraints
  3. What if he has bad experience with a particular product or brand or model.
  4. What if a particular brand of product has stopped support activities in the customers country and its recent news circulated locally?
  5. Some environment aspects might not be shared with the customer but being honest is important.

Rapport Building

  1. Its very important that the customer trusts you, his buying decision would depend on that
  2. Its all about Rapport Building with the customer
  3. In my own experience i have walked out of big show rooms where i did not feel welcome or wanted by the customer support executive or sales executive despite knowing the fact that this show room offers things at much discounted price.
  4. Valuing customers time can also be one of means of raport building.
  5. No Rapport – No Value – No Selling or Buying.

Customer Success

  1. As a sales person if your intension’s are to see to it that your customer is successfull in his buying decision it also ensures that you are successfull selling and having one more happy customer to your list.
  2. If your intension’s are just to make fast money , give customer what he wanted leter on tell him that “ … this is what you wanted … thats what you got” – forget it, you would never sell anything anything big in your lifetime and end up as nothing.
  3. On a longer run its bunch of happy customers who make your business grow, its growing business that ensures that investors to happy and pay your salary check on time every time.
  4. Happy customer need not always buy something immediately from you. But sure to return back or refer his friends to buy from you.

Solution and Business Hypothesis (TOGAF Architecture Continuum)

Hypothesis is Educated Guess

Early Morning News : “James Smith Inc [JSI]” has got a huge opportunity to implement Telepresence system across 15 International location of a huge business organization “They Simply Rock .Org [TSRO]” , TSRO is a health care sector co funded by NGO’s and Some Business tycoons from Namibia.

TSRO has called in cheif Architect at JSI to further discuss how we could offer our solutions to their Business Expansion plans. This meeting will have Key Architecture members from TSRO. So Before attending the meeting some preparation need to be done by us.

Business Problem Hypothesis: This is an Educated Guess at their Busiess Problems and Business Transformation that they are going through, source of information can be

  1. General Industry Research ( Healthcare Sector for TSRO )
  2. Search for company name ( in Google or Bing or Yahoo )
  3. Search for company Financial Results
  4. Search for company News especially any News regarding recent mergers and acquisition’s, Business Expansions etc
  5. Look into Job Portal to understand the skill level of employees. We dont want ourselves to end up selling sand to Arabs
  6. Search across company Facebook pages to see whats happening
  7. Search across LinkedIn and other websites to see Org profile, people and skill sets of working people
  8. Use online company profiling tools ( some are paid ) to find more about the company
  9. Read about the company in Business Magazines
  10. Read about the top people with in the company on social and networking sites
  11. Try to figure out who are top influencer, who are interested in this project , who can possiblely oppose.
  12. Try and search their previous buying experience and investments in the consumer market.

All these information would ensure that we know something before we actual enter the drawing room about the company. There are couple of advantages we wont be asking “Stupid Questions” like who is their CEO or CFO or Whats their main Business area. Even though most of the above information is our educated guess. But we are in a better position than our compitator who has gone there with no hypothesis.

Influence Hypothesis: Its a educated guess at the people who could influence our buying decision,

  1. Identify people who are interested and are influential
  2. Identify people who are interested and are directly impacted
  3. Identify people who could stop or break the Solution phase

TOGAF 9 ,

  • please refer Stake Holder Map

Solution Hypothesis: We might not have a perfect solution planned for TSRO but we can always have a industry standard solution with us

  1. Reusable Solutions accepted across industries
  2. Generic Solutions with Success Stories
TOGAF 9:
Solution Hypothesis of Value Selling is directly linked to Solution Continuum of TOGAF 9
.

Conclusion: Hypothesis is something you take to table as your understanding and guess based on your Study and Industry Standards, however they need not be perfect, they can however help us finding more about the opportunity and winning customers initial level of trust, and building a good rapport.

Discovery Session ( TOGAF Requirement Management)

Discovery is not about Discovering the knowledge of the customer ( How much he knows about Consumer Electronics and New Technologies in the Market ) but Discovery is all about understanding their requirements ( What is Success to them , What are their Goals and Objectivies )

Why do we need discovery session with the customer ?

  1. To Correct and Verify about our Solution and Business Hypothesis that we discussed earlier
  2. Understand their Key Business Requirement ( In case of JSI their Customers key Home Entertainment requirements )
  3. Understand their Goals and Success Criteria
How do we go about doing discovery session ?
  1. End of the day what do our customers and their business get out of spending time with us
  2. Make customer understand the scope and out of scope in the discussion , so that they are mentally prepared
  3. Value their time, they dont have whole day to spend with us explaining their Business Requirements ( pains :-) )
  4. Ask right and meaningful questions , no stupid questions please , you would have the risk of being thrown out of room
  5. Ensure that we validate our important hypothesis
  6. Make Notes and Share notes with them later so that we are all on same page and there is no mis understandings or assumptions after the discovery session
TOGAF 9

Directional Questioning

Joe is with us to buy some consumer electronics (TV to be precise) and he is serious about buying how can we question him, Directional Questioning would help us help him make a right choice and value for his money. Go to white board where you can add or erase easily and mark his requirements, make him understand. major sales can be done in drawing board which can be followed by a demo later.

  1. What is that he wants to buy
  2. Is he looking for standard definition or high definition
  3. Does he have any particular brand in mind
  4. Is he OK Buying Sony or does he prefer any other brand
  5. Does he have any Budget Constraints
  6. Is he looking for Home Theater system or just a TV Set
  7. Does he intend to use DTH connection to his home theater or just blu ray player
  8. Is he looking for in built amplified or external amplifier in HT
  9. Explain terms like HD, SD, Internal and External Amplifiers, HDMI Cable, DTH Connection, 7.1 and 5.1 channel Audio Output
  10. Understand his hall size so that we can figure out whats the RMS value that would suit him most, We all want to sell as much as we can but setting up a 5000 W Speakers in a 20 * 15 room would be a miserable idea
Chunk Up , Chunk Down, Move away and towards
  • Sales-Rep: Joe since you said that you already have a TV and are looking for a new one , what brings you here ..
  • Joe: I trust JSI, I would like to have a bigger TV to connect to my recently bought Blu ray player , I would like to have theater like experience in my home,
  • Sales-Rep : Would you be interested in HD TV’s
  • Joe: Yes, since i already have a Standard Definition TV , I would be interested in High Definition ( in particular Sony HD TVs )
  • Sales-Rep : Would you be interested in 52 inch Sony Bravia HD LCD TV
  • Joe : No , I would be interested in lesser width, also I would like to keep it with in Budget .
  • Sales-Rep : How about 47 inch HD LCD W Series that goes perfect with your Blu Ray player
  • Joe : Looks good .
  • Sales-Rep : If you plan to connect to not only to your blu ray player but also to your HD DTH Connection I would suggest external amplifier home theater system such as Onkyo
  • Joe : Why not internal Amplifier HT System ? how do they differ
  • Sales-Rep : Internal HT would just amplify the Signals from your DVD or Blu Ray disc where as external can not only amplify your Blu ray system but also your FM Radio , Music System , iPod, HD DTH Connection like Sky TV
  • Joe : Sounds good. lets go for demonstration
  • Sales-Rep : demonstrating the Sony Bravia HD LCD TV Connected to Onkyo HT System via HDMI Cable playing a Blu ray movie on Sony Blu Ray Player
  • Joe : This set up looks really good , it over shoots my budget
  • Delivering Killer Message in Sales Cycle by the Sales Representative
  • Sales-Rep : We can also arrange for loans and spot finances and give you 15 % overall discount this is 5% higher than any of our competitors with in the industry, and an Extended 2 year warranty , we would like you to know that Sony on its own offers 1 year warranty and we at JSI offer an additional 1 year warranty where we pay for the warranty period this is the additional value for your money that you get buying your consumer electronics from JSI Our Competitors cannot afford the discount that we give nor match our 2 year onsite warranty offers
  • Joe : Lets sign up and pack things :-)
Up-selling : What else cycle
  • Sales-Rep : what else would you be interested Joe , How about a cordless ear phone , you would be getting 30% off on Purchase of Bravia TV would you be interested in that ?
What else cycle is going on ..
  • Joe , You know i have recently bought Sony Handy Cam
  • Sales-Rep: Wow thats great we also have Great 5x Handy Cam Lens , let me know when you planning to go buy one, this is very good for long range HD Shots :-)

Echo – Deliver – Value & Objection Handling

In a sales cycle customer can come up with many tough questions and objections , most of them are not technical in nature but are hard to answer. if not properly handled these can break discussion and the sales rep might end up selling nothing or look like an idiot in front of the customer.

Proper Objection handling and EDV techniques helps in couple of things

  1. Move the discussion further
  2. Understand and respond to customers concerns
  3. Opportunity to build a rapport with the customer
  4. Add value to your selling cycle and Customers Time
  5. Moving Vertically higher in Customers Business lifecycle
So its important to understand how do we handle these questions, some of the tough “customer questions” can be.
  1. You know the product that you are mentioning has a bad customer support. I had a very bad experience with handy cam with them.
  2. I see that your selling price is more or less the same as your competitor but he also offers me a free 2 day holiday pack to Goa Beach.
  3. I had seen in my friends house that swapping channels in HD takes much longer in SD TV, and looks pretty annoying to me.
  4. I dont have that much Budget mate ! .
Case 1 :
Objection by Customer : I Know Sony Products are great …. but I have Budget Constraints this being a year end tax paying period , you know what i mean !
Sales Rep : Joe , I understand your budget constraints and concerns , Lets see if we can prioritize whats important to you … Based on that i could come up with a suggestion how we can cut down on overall expenditure and also get you whats most important to you and …. with in your budget ….
.
Case 2 : 
Objection by Customer : You know Sony Products are very expensive , My friend recently bought same size Samsung TV for 5000 Rs lesser, what more he got Holiday Gift Voucher and he is in Goa with his girl friend …
Sales Rep:
Echo — Joe , I understand your concern about the cost factor when you have budget constraints and i am totally with you on that
Deliver — I Would also like to let you know that Sony Spends 4 billion US dollars more in their R&D budget and Customer Support than its nearest competitors !.
Value — what it means to you is world class products which has twice longer life span for its picture tube than any of other brands in the industry … 10 years down the lane you would be having same level of sound and picture quality compared to that ..  as you brand new Sony Television, …. Also their 24 * 7 customer support ensures that your investments are being protected.