To Solve or To Sell

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Inflation and incremental supply chain issues continue to breed uncertainty for your customers, increasing their risk and their focus on price. If your strategy is to sell value creation rather than low price, then you’re likely finding that it’s more challenging to execute your strategy.

Because increased volatility tends to shorten a customer’s planning horizon, each transaction is often assessed in isolation, for its short-term advantage. A price-first priority is helpful to customers since it is clear, direct, and easy to evaluate. The customer’s consideration of alternatives is simpler, which can expedite their buying decision.

In contrast, proposing value creation is different for every customer. It takes time to discover what is valued, and how resolving a short-term need could also produce longer term, strategic benefits. It takes time to differentiate your business, to reveal your experience and competency, and to demonstrate your genuine interest in their progress.

Not every customer will want to make this extra time investment, but for those who do, how can you make it valuable for them?

Begin by clarifying what they value, before talking price; explain how gaining this deeper understanding of their business enables you to propose the most beneficial solutions. Explore why resolving their stated need is important to them, how it helps them progress or achieve their goals. Could it help them grow, or strengthen their competitive advantage, or is the focus simple cost reduction? Time permitting, try to learn more about their business and other barriers they may be facing these days.

Just this simple effort to better comprehend your customer’s business, their longer-term aspirations as well as their short-term needs, before offering a proposal, differentiates you and conveys your respect.

Then, propose a couple of alternative solutions, linked to their challenge or obstacle. And in collaboration with the customer, evaluate how each proposed solution resolves their problem while creating value for them, which will help them decide which option generates the most benefit. This approach provides the opportunity to reinforce your company’s expertise, credibility, and commitment to their success. It’s the ROI on their effort to go beyond a price-driven transaction.

How effectively are you selling value creation rather than price?

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