Friday, October 28, 2016

6 Steps to Ensure Your Sales Training Sticks…

A big sign on a brick wall says, "Under Construction"

When you are planning a value selling training program, don’t waste your time and money on an intervention that has no legs. Start at the beginning and construct a thoughtful and relevant program that can actually improve the consultative selling skills and behaviors of your team and provide true business results in terms of increased revenue, higher margins, shorter sales cycles, better win rates or a more strategic portfolio mix.


  1. Link your business sales training directly to the corporate and sales strategies
    Make sure your value selling training program connects to a critical part of the organization’s strategy and, as such, is fully supported at the highest levels. You need to know you have executive support to underline the importance of the program, focus on the business outcomes you plan to achieve, and supply whatever resources are needed to get the job done.  If you have not identified specific sales metrics you want to improve and how much you want to improve them, then chances are that your sales training program is too isolated and tactical in nature.

  2. Ensure relevance
    To ensure sales training relevance, make sure that the participants, their bosses and the leadership team as whole care about the desired results compared to other priorities on their plates.  We call this 3x3 Training Relevance.  Without it, your training is set up to disappoint.  Work with sales leaders and key stakeholders to understand the greatest sales challenges, the most important sales scenarios and what makes the difference between the highest and lowest performing sales reps.  Make sure everyone feels ownership of the issues, design and desired results. That way they will participate not as prisoners but as advocates and learners.  Treat any important learning solution as a change initiative, not a training event.

  3. Grab them at the start
    The more relevant the interaction, the better. Get sales training workshop participants involved from the very beginning. Use live examples.  Include simulations.  Provide relevant job aids and tools.  Uncover barriers to success back on the job.  Understand what would make the program a real game changer and make sure that you deliver.

  4. Customize, customize, customize
    Include as many relevant real-world examples, scenarios and role plays as you can. Otherwise participants will feel that the program will not transfer over to their specific job and situation. 

  5. Expand their thinking
    Challenge participants to push beyond their comfort zone. Encourage the technical expert to present to the class in a persuasive way. Pair your “A” players with lower performers to help build skills on both sides…the “A’s” to learn how to collaborate and coach and the “B’s” to learn how to be more successful.

  6. Consider the session close as a new beginning
    The program should not end with the bell. For it to have lasting value, there should be a follow-up system of job aids and tools, regular coaching for desired behaviors, rewards for putting the new learning into practice and solid training measurement of skill adoption and performance change.

Don’t skip the “under construction” phase in your hurry to deliver your business sales training. The planning and instructional design will make the difference between a simple training event and actual transfer of new, meaningful skills to the workplace.

Assess Your Upcoming Sales Training Now

Friday, September 23, 2016

Value Selling Success Requires More than Effort

A graph with Efforts as the y axis and Results as the x axis

When you are looking for results from your sales force, know that it takes more than effort…it takes a blend of consistent work and the key consultative sales skills learned in value selling training.

Just because you are hiring more sales reps, you cannot be guaranteed of increased sales…at least not for a while. Your feet on the street may be higher but you need to allow for ramp-up time. There will be an uncomfortable lag between bringing your new sales hires aboard and the time when they are actually bringing in the revenue you hope for. Yet, if you want to keep them engaged and motivated, you have to reward them sufficiently. So be prepared. There will be a net drain until they meet their targets.

Here, according to value selling training experts is what you must do to minimize the financial impact and bring in those positive results as soon as possible.
  1. Hire your sales force well.
    Don’t hire for the numbers; hire for the quality. Know what critical few sales and cultural competencies spell success in your business and make sure your new sales hires can prove their ability or have the right attitude to learn what they need to know to succeed.
  2. Prepare your sales force well.
    You will need to invest mightily in your incoming sales force. Give them the value selling training they need…both in what your company offers and in how your company adds value better, faster or cheaper than the competition. Train them in your proven sales methodology. For organizations with complex sales, teach them how to sell value. They should understand how to differentiate your offering and couch it in a way that truly solves the customer’s problem so that cost becomes less of a consideration. Help your new sales reps learn all they can about your industry, your company, your customers, your products, and your competition. They should have materials at hand (white papers, case studies, customer testimonials) that allow them to add and prove value every time they interact with customers.
  3. Provide opportunities for your sales force.
    Let your sales reps shadow your “A” solution sellers and then give them a sales performance coach who can provide helpful feedback as they ease into selling one step at a time. Give them an opportunity to test their wings and they will learn by doing. Another aspect of “opportunity” is to give them some real business to work with. What is in your pipeline they can use as leads? You can’t just throw them into a new territory without a chance to win.
Establish realistic performance goals for each stage of sales onboarding. As your sales reps reach goals, they become more valuable to your sales team and to the company. Reward them accordingly. Soon enough, they will reap their own rewards as they bring in their own sales results.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to Salvage the Deal - or at Least the Relationship

graphic of a sad businessman walking away from a downward sales arrow and money flying away on wings

None of our value selling training participants wants to lose hard fought sales…especially when customers switch to the competition. 

Rule #1 - Make sure your revenue does not fly away because you did not make your value visible to your clients and prospects.

Of course, the best way to avoid losing customers is to treat them right and add value in the first place. Stay in touch…not just to “check in” but to bring relevant value at each and every interaction. 

Remember your value selling training? Your customer should welcome your calls because each time you talk they come away having learned something valuable. Perhaps you have uncovered a recent article that is relevant to their business or you have just met an expert in a field that interests them. To do this well, you need to talk with your clients and prospects fairly regularly so you stay current on their goals and pressing issues.  After all, it is hard to add value if you do not know what is valuable to them.

Let’s say that, despite your work to keep your clients and prospects highly engaged, you get a call that negates the contract you were working on together. What can you do to salvage the deal or at least the relationship?

  1. Try to learn what is going on.
    Find out all you can about why the deal went south. Only then can you hope to either fix what went wrong or retool your approach or solution so it’s a better fit.

  2. Request a delay.
    If you can, try to get some time to get back to the drawing board or meet with your primary internal supporter to see what, if anything, can be done to get back on track.

  3. Get creative.
    OK, so you may have lost the larger deal, but is there any piece of the business that you can still provide? Or can you offer advice on how to manage the transition? If you can focus on what differentiates you from the competition, you may still be able to keep your finger in and, if things go awry, be ready to pick up the pieces again. You could say, for instance, “Even though you did not select us, I know that you were most impressed with the quality of our experts. How can we help make sure that you get the level of expertise that you desire?”  Or, “Are there any areas where you would like some additional help?”

  4. Stay in touch.
    Haven’t we all switched solutions or products to make sure we were using the best? Give your customer a chance to come back. Make sure you maintain contact and make your value visible so it will be easy for them to return to you when the time is right.




Thursday, July 28, 2016

How to Clearly Define Value During the Sales Process

The word "Value" is at the center of a group of relevant terms

How do you define “value” in a selling situation? 

Is It All About Price?
Some value selling experts maintain that price and value are just different words for the same thing.  They claim that the “value” of a solution is always ultimately defined by price: either providing more services for the same price as a competitor or charging less for the same services as the competition. But we think that perspective is too narrow. 

We see value selling as quite different from selling with cost as the defining measure. Rather than focusing on cost, sell value by focusing on what makes your solution unique in the eyes of your buyer…what differentiates it from the available alternatives.  This is what gives value selling its edge and what gives you success in a competitive marketplace with complex sales.

A simple example would be selling your services as a residential architect. Once you have a thorough understanding of what your customer wants and needs, you go back to the drawing board to put together your plan. Topmost in your proposed design needs to be what matters most to your client. There are many factors to consider…size, house style, room plan, construction materials, placement on the property, landscaping, and so on. If budget is a real concern, you should provide options within a price range that fits. In the final analysis, however, your plan should reflect how completely you have understood the client’s dream house coupled with your expertise on what will suit them best for a budget that makes sense.

Validating Your Value
As a seller of value, always be ready to substantiate the financial and business impact of your proposed approach and solution. If clients do not trust or believe in your value proposition, they will be less likely to partner with you to help them to succeed.  To do this you must start by answering some key questions:

  • What specific problem is the client trying to solve? Why?
  • What are the specific benefits of solving the problem?
  • How will you know if success has been achieved?
  • How did the problem or need come about?
  • What has stopped it from being resolved before now?
  • How does the problem manifest itself from a business perspective?
  • How important is this compared with other strategic priorities?
  • Who/what else is affected?  Who cares most about solving it?

Differentiating Your Value
As a seller of value, be ready to point out how your solution is different and better than any other available alternatives. If buyers do not appreciate what makes you better, faster or cheaper, they will most likely look for the cheapest alternative.  

Back to our example, can you list your unique qualifications as an architect that sets you apart from the rest?  For example, do you focus exclusively on custom residences within a certain price range?  Are you an expert in a certain style or design?  Do you have special access to materials?  Can you turn around plans faster?  Do you work directly with the onsite contractor to ensure the plans make sense?  Do you understand the local planning commission rules and regulations?   You get the idea...articulate what makes you stand apart from the pack in the eyes of your target clients.

As a seller of value, check that your differentiators still matter to the customer and agree upon the financial impact of those differentiators. Just think, for example, of how many costly fixes and re-designs can be avoided if there is a daily onsite check on building progress.

Whether you are the seller of simple or complex solutions, value selling can be your ticket to win.  Your understanding of your customer’s unique needs coupled with your ability to provide a unique solution can be more compelling than any lower cost alternative.

Learn more at: http://www.lsaglobal.com/solution-selling-training

Friday, June 24, 2016

3 Value Selling Do’s and Don’ts When You Get Pricing Pressure

The word "prices" is being squeezed in a vice

There comes a time in almost every sale when the customer challenges or complains about price. It is often at this point that inexperienced salespeople crumble and surrender to price pressure. But your solutions and your sales people do not need to get squeezed this way. What you need to counter this pressure is a good dose of quality, customized and targeted value selling training.

When you understand why the customer puts on the pressure and how to handle it, you won’t succumb to offering unnecessary discounts that will erode your brand and profit margin; nor will you be tempted to walk off in an insulted huff. Instead you will have the sales tools and skills to continue to work with the customer to mutually agree upon the true value of your solution. As a result, you will have an entirely different kind of sales discussion and sales outcome.

Here, in a nutshell, are what NOT to do when you encounter price pressure from your customer:

  1. Don’t negotiate when a customer tells you they can get the same product at a lower priceFirst of all, they may be bluffing. But even if not, you should acknowledge that there are many different prices and alternatives out there. If the client can find similar value at a lower price, they should take it.  Your challenge will be to clearly articulate why the value you are offering is different (better, faster or cheaper) compared to the available alternatives. 
  2. Don’t allow yourself to get drawn into a piece-by-piece breakdown of your pricing structure. It won’t help. Your fees should be based upon the tangible value your solution is providing in the eyes of the client.  Assuming that your initial pricing makes sense, your fees are your fees…period.  If the client wants to spend less, then reduce the scope to meet their budget.  Just make sure that you decrease expectations accordingly.
  3. Don’t prematurely abandon the opportunity simply because the customer asked the “price” question. Haven’t you asked similar pricing questions when you were buying a house, car or other services? It is common.  It is human nature for many.  And it does not necessarily mean that your customer will be a difficult one or that you have lost the sale.
What TO do when you encounter price pressure from your customer?

  1. Identify the Value.Clearly define with your client the value they are looking for compared to other business priorities and alternatives.
  2. Link the Value.Define specifically how your unique and differentiated solution best helps the customer to succeed better than the competition.
  3. Articulate the Value.Clearly communicate how your value-added solution addresses what matters most to them and their key stakeholders.

Selling your value in a way that aligns with the customer’s buying process and business goals enables you and your sales team to demand premium pricing, differentiate yourself from the competition and have a better close rate.  Customers will gladly pay more if they trust you can bring the value required to get them where they want to be.

Learn more at: http://www.lsaglobal.com/solution-selling-training

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Value Selling – 3 Levels of Sales Team Performance to Manage

A businessman is juggling 4 colored balls

Just about any sales team can be divided into three major performance levels based upon performance, cultural fit, and knowledge and skills. 

Depending upon your sales strategy, sales performance is typically defined in terms of some combination of revenue, margin, win-rate, portfolio mix and customer satisfaction.  Cultural fit is usually defined as people’s ability to fit into the accepted and desired ways your sales team thinks, behaves and works.  Knowledge most often accounts for company, industry, market, customer and solution understanding while skills refer to the consistent ability to add customer value and sell solutions to help your clients to succeed. 

With that as context, the three major performance levels are:

  • A Players – Your High Performers. (~ 20%)These sought after sales team members have it all – high performance levels, a strong cultural fit and the knowledge and skills required to consistently and profitably deliver on your value proposition and brand promise.
  • B Players – Your Average Performers. (~ 60%)These sales team members are doing well in some areas and not meeting expectations in other areas.  For example, they may be hitting their sales targets, but not be a great cultural fit or selling the wrong things to the wrong customers in a way that does not align with your brand promise.
  • C Players – Your Low Performers. (~ 20%)These sales team members are currently falling short in all areas.  

If you want to raise the overall performance of your sales team, here are some proven ways you can juggle those three performance levels for the best possible results…

  1. Let’s deal first with your top 20% high performing sales reps. First, you must identify who they are.  Then your challenge is understand exactly what is required to consistently engage and retain them. From a sales strategy perspective, that means making sure that they feel that the sales direction and plan is clear, believable and implementable enough to succeed.  From a sales culture perspective it means creating an environment that sets them and their team up for success by making sure they feel rewarded, supported, recognized and included.  From a talent perspective it means making sure that they and their team have the resources, tools, skills and knowledge to achieve their targets.
  2. The Middle 60%Then there are those who get results but whose sales skills could use a boost. Chances are their success is due to perseverance and a reliable network of order takers built up over the years. They may be hard workers but just think how much more effective they could be if they truly understood and practiced what they could learn in value selling training. Respect their results but help and incentivize them to try a new selling approach that will make their job easier and more productive for the long haul.  Perhaps the simplest solution is for these middle performers.  Identify what critical few sales skills matter most.  Assess their skills gaps.  Provide targeted and scenario-based value selling training that fits your exact sales strategy and culture.  Give them support, ongoing coaching and reinforcement. Then measure their progress and adjust as necessary.
    Then there are those who appear to have the sales skills and knowledge but just are not getting the desired results.  This is a more difficult situation to solve.  You need to identify the root cause of their substandard performance.  Do they not trust their ability?   Do they lack the drive or motivation?  Are they in the wrong role?  Do they feel taken for granted?  Is something happening on a personal level?  Are they unaware of how they are performing?  As their sales manager, it is your job to figure out what they need to perform at a higher level and create a meaningful plan to lift their performance. 

    After making sure that you engage and retain your top 20% sales talent, your greatest leverage point may lie in lifting the performance of this middle 60% group.
  3. The Bottom 20%For your sales team members falling short in all areas, it would benefit both them and the company as whole to place them on a meaningful performance development plan to help them improve or move on in 90 days.  The plan should give them the support, ongoing coaching and reinforcement to have a chance to raise their game. Then keep close track of their progress. If they show little improvement or little effort over a reasonable period, it is time to let them go. If ever you are to build a high performing sales team, you cannot hang on to poor performers.  

Evaluate your sales team and treat each performance level differently. This is how to build a high performance sales team.

Learn more at: http://www.lsaglobal.com/solution-selling-training

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Keep Your Value Visible

The word "Value" is at the center of many words that relate to it

What you hear throughout value selling training is that you need to keep your value visible.  At LSA Global, we call it MVV – Make your Value Visible.

Value selling may be challenging to practice effectively, but it makes good, common business sense. It is not rocket science to understand how much more powerful it is than more traditional or transactional selling. Persuading your customer of the value your solution brings to them in terms of real business results is far more effective than a generic list of your service’s benefits. Ergo, if value selling is the way to go, keep your value in front of the customer each time you interact in order to enhance the relationship and their commitment to you. 

One of the early ways to provide value and ensure that you are truly in sync as business partners is to provide a summary of each meeting. This will be helpful to you both as you move forward with the agreement to work together and it keeps you in front of the sales process. This is just where you want to be…at the helm, steering toward the agreed-upon and mutually beneficial goal.

Here are some value selling tips on how to prepare a summary that works in your best interest and theirs:

1. Make sure that the summary is not just a copy of your action steps toward your goal of a deal.
Remember that the customer needs to feel that helping them and their business is your primary focus. So each milestone should be articulated in the customer’s language in a way that aligns with their business strategy and unique organizational culture. They want to see how each step brings them closer to the solution you have agreed upon. They, too, should have milestones to reach. To secure their acceptance of what you understood to be the plan, ask them for their input and, if there are no corrections or additions, for their sign-off.

2. Check regularly on progress and make changes as necessary.
The summary will provide an ongoing checklist of action items, deadlines and results. Not only does this keep both you and your customer on track, it also prevents misunderstandings. Another real benefit is that it keeps the ultimate goal in front of the customer so your solution does not get lost in the day-to-day implementation. 

The value of your plan to solve their problem and your unique approach can be reiterated and tweaked as you move forward…a good way to reinforce your value and secure the deal.

Learn more at: http://www.lsaglobal.com/solution-selling-training