When I speak with potential clients that are contemplating a sales force transformation, many are seeking to build a high-performance sales culture and company. One of the default assumptions many have is the need to retrain their sales force. Many believe that this in itself will take their company to the next level of performance. While sales training may be an important part of a company’s growth strategy, on its own, it rarely is enough to accomplish this goal. Achieving significant and sustainable growth begins with understanding what is customer value, and how it is created.
The Customer Value Question
One important question that I will ask and dwell on for a considerable period of time when speaking with clients is: “How does your company create value for your customers?” At first blush, this seems to be a deceptively simple question. Most of the time, the answers almost always revolve around the great products and services they provide – which is obviously true. Otherwise, customers would not be buying from them.
However, their competitors also provide good (or great) products and services and provide customer value as well. Consequently, this leads to another important question: “How do you plan to create greater customer value and outdo your competitors?” It’s at this point, that clients struggle to specifically identify tangible activities to move the needle.
Some Questions to Explore
To help clients develop their thinking on customer value, there are a number of follow-up questions to guide the discussion on how their company might create greater customer value. These include:
- What is truly unique about the products and services your company provides, compared to your competitors? How could you leverage this to create even greater customer value?
- Why do your clients purchase similar products and services from your competitors?
- What economic value (cost savings, efficiencies) does your offering provide? How is this different, compared to your main competitors?
- What major costs and expenses do your clients incur on a regular basis, which are outside of the offering you provide? If these were removed, would this create significant savings and efficiencies for them?
These questions begin to identify areas that can potentially be developed to provide an enhanced product and/or service offering. Hence, not only would current clients benefit from it, but also potential clients – some who will pay a premium price for the greater value they are receiving. What is interesting about going through these questions is many of the answers are resident in the minds of employees. It’s just that these questions have likely never been asked before and have not been considered.
Creating greater customer value goes hand-in-hand with transforming your sales organization and building a high-performance company. Just beware of the false belief that sales training is the secret elixir to building a high-performance company. It involves much more than training.