While most of my posts center around the PEO industry, this entry is applicable to other industries as well. The title of the article What Do You Offer is a simple question with substantial affect. This article will review the meaning behind the question and the subsequent impact of an appropriate answer for sales professionals, their company, and their clientele.
What is the rationale behind the question What Do You Offer? Many sales professionals may gravitate to answering this question by relaying information about their service or product. However, that would be missing the point of the question. While a sales professional should scrutinize their product/service and learn everything they can about it prior to selling, it is not the product/service that is the focal point of this article. Rather, assuming all things are equal between your offering and your competition’s product/service, the question is what do YOU offer? You as a sales professional, what do you personally offer that is of value to your prospect? What expertise, experience, approach, information, insight, strategy, and knowledge are you able to bring to the table when discussing a prospective deal?
Too often I see shortcuts sought out by sales professionals. I’ve noticed people willing to hustle in order to drum up prospective business only to have average close ratios. Finding new business opportunities isn’t easy. Therefore, it would be wise to maximize your ability to close each potential opportunity. To do so, a sales professional must ask themselves, beyond the company’s capabilities, what do I offer?
Buying decisions are typically made on a combination of two fronts. Relational and content. Relational can be defined as connection, trust, listening, and likability. Content may be defined as product/service capabilities, perceived value, delivery, and price. Each of these two aspects are important in the sales process. However, many salespeople rely on one or both to close deals and do not move beyond either. A buyer will make decisions based on one or both factors; relational and/or content. If the salesperson has competition that moves beyond these two factors, they are in danger of losing the sale.
A buyer craves expertise. They want to deal with someone knowledge whom understand their needs. The expertise the buyer desires should move beyond the content of the product/service. To move beyond the content expertise, a sales professional cannot have a myopic focus on the sale.
Factors to Consider
When a salesperson possesses a deep knowledge of their product/service, can understand the application of their product/service to their prospective clientele, and establishes a foundation for relational success, they are in a good position. However, there are peripherals to this approach that a consultative sales professional should consider. Beyond the obvious which is knowledge of one’s competition in order to accurately contrast their option with that of their competition, an elite sales professional will dig deeper.
Some areas to consider are affect, byproduct, trend, and benefit. Let’s take a look at these quickly one by one to understand what they mean in the sales process.
Beyond the product/service capabilities and intended results, what affect will the product/service have on the company? In other words, if you sold a payroll software to a company, you may focus on the features, benefits, and costs. However, would it reduce the payroll team’s hours, reduce error rates, improve departmental culture, create a more favorable user experience, allow the company to scale more efficiently, etc.?
Ask yourself, what affect, beyond the obvious capabilities, would my product/service have on the customer? Once you know the answer, convey this to your prospect. Your product/service will have greater appeal because it impacts other elements of the buyer’s organization.
The byproduct is the subsequent impact the product/service would have on the customer beyond the immediate intended design. In the payroll software example, the byproduct may take the form of increased employee satisfaction, accounting department improvement through increased reporting capabilities, increased leadership insight through job costing, reduction in labor hours due to an efficient system interface, and real-time labor cost insight for budgeting purposes, etc.
Ask yourself, what byproducts would my product/service potentially have on the customer’s organization and profitability? These identified byproducts increase the value of your solution which helps with price negotiations.
The trend extends beyond solely your prospective customer. Trending is a macro look at an industry, data, or customer base. When a sales professional can discuss trending that is meaningful to a prospective customer, it creates a professional relationship on a higher level. In the payroll software example, is the technology cutting edge? What direction is your customers industry heading? What direction is the applicable software industry heading? Does the software create a competitive advantage for your customer? Will it improve efficiency and speed for your customer? Will it make it easier to attract new talent in the payroll department? Is the prospect’s industry struggling and this solution can reduce costs and protect your customer’s profit margins?
Ask yourself, what insight on trends within my customer’s industry, applicable ancillary industries, and my industry may hold value to my prospective buyer. Your insight can help your prospect make educated decisions for the betterment of their business.
Ultimately the benefit of your product/service can be summed up concisely; ROI. ROI can be measured in a number of ways. Cost, return, business improvement, workforce improvement, competitive advantage, etc. Ultimately, a superior sales professional will be able to accurately articulate the subsequent benefit to the customer by choosing his/her product or service. To illustrate the benefits that are most closely aligned with your buyers’ primary motivators, you’ll need to understand your prospect and listen for clues as to what is important for them. From there it is a matter of facilitating a solution that meets those needs while educating your prospect in all applicable areas. Illustrating the benefit is the beginning of closing the deal. It is the wrap up of all factors in the buying decision.
Ask yourself, what is the ultimate benefit my client would receive by choosing my product/service? They will then weigh that answer, if they agree with you, against the cost to determine the ROI.
A mediocre salesperson may only be proficient at one of the two foundational fronts; relationship or content. A good salesperson will be proficient on both foundational fronts. An elite salesperson will be proficient on both fronts and be able to illustrate the affect, byproduct, trend, and ultimate benefit. These are the consultative closers. Those that have sustained production excellence.
Earning new business opportunities takes a lot of work. You only get paid when a new opportunity materializes into a deal. Do not waste these opportunities by not putting in the work to get to the next level.
Becoming an elite salesperson is obtainable but it requires work. The question is, will you put in the work to transform? I guarantee it will be worth your time. Moreover, I can attest that most of your competition will not put in the requisite work.
Assuming all things are equal between your company and your competition, the question of What Do You Offer becomes, Why Should I Buy from You? The competitive advantage doesn’t need to come from your company. You can create a competitive advantage in yourself.
Rob Comeau is the CEO of Business Resource Center, Inc., a business consulting and M&A advisory firm. Comeau began his career in sales where he set numerous company records with production at publicly traded companies.
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