We live in a connected world. Easy access to information, human capital, and production facilities means that "anyone" can replicate a product, service or delivery process. In that context, sales models that are based on presenting and arguing for "unique" value are either failing or, in the best case, challenged to deliver results. In this article we present an alternative sales model that defines the uniqueness of what is offered to a customer in terms of the company's identity: its purpose, its core values, and the sum of its employees who live and breathe those values towards customers. Focusing on the company's identity, rather than what a company does and how it does it, results in a simple and highly effective framework for sales success, that is universally applicable and hard to imitate.
From our experience in advising customers during their buying processes, we know that customers have a natural knowledge advantage over sales people. This is due to their own business competence as well as the plethora of similar offerings and propositions put forward to them. After all, repetition is the mother of learning and customers are constantly invited to view solutions from several angles. For sellers, this means that Unique Selling Points (USPs) tend to evaporate in early discussions. Without USPs, sales propositions degenerate to commodities and risk to be judged solely on price.
Still, there are companies that despite this context do really well. Their products, albeit similar, are loved and admired and it is seems as if they owned a secret that makes them immune to commoditisation. Simon Sinek revealed the difference between companies that are liked and companies that are loved, as the latter's ability to connect on an emotional level with their customers. Sinek's key insight is that the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires a company and its people to do what they do, makes the difference in achieving over-proportional business success. In other words: when all proposals put forward to a customer look similar, the customer's decision criteria are augmented with intangible aspects. Why you do what you do, becomes more important than what you do, and how you do it.
Before anything can be bought, customers have to run internal processes to get a formulation of the benefit they require, get organisational alignment and seek allocation of funds. It is only when all those prerequisites are in place that a search for a solution provider can begin. It has been claimed that engaging in that late phase of the buying process provides companies with access to only 7% of the actual customer opportunities. In other words: however good a company's sales methodology, the late engagement will by definition yield poor results.
Consequently, for a company to achieve sales success (reach the 93% of opportunities) it needs to engage in Buying Facilitation first i.e. helping customers "manage their behind-the-scenes, non-solution-related change management issues". This requires an existing customer relationship based on trust. Our experience shows that such a relationship can only be established by demonstrating a genuine advisory engagement style which does not define a purchase as the only successful result. Sharon Drew Morgen calls this way of companies becoming a trusted partner to their customers Selling with Integrity.
Selling with Integrity means putting the customer's interests first and accepting that the Buying Facilitation process may result in solution options that either negate the need for a purchase from the customer (for example, the customer can achieve a required benefit with internal resources), or a solution that cannot be delivered by the company. Selling with Integrity also means a company taking the decision to invest in a long-term partnership with its customers.
It is our experience that the genuine interest to deliver the best possible outcome for the customer is rewarded with trust and increased access to opportunities a company would have never had access to otherwise. This increases the chances of buying facilitation resulting in customer purchases. Therefore sales success cannot be separated from successful execution and delivery of the jointly identified benefits. In particular after delivery, the company's sales success depends on providing continuous care to realise augmented benefits for both customer and the company. It is when the planned benefits are delivered and continuously enhanced over time that the customer and the company can learn and grow together.
If you have worked with us you already know: the Neos Chronos Advisory Services Model is based on the principles illustrated above. Our company's purpose and values are entrenched into our culture and ways of working and underpin our commitment towards our customer's success.
Figure 1. Neos Chronos Advisory Services Model
We love making our customers successful. We believe our work and our customer's business success will contribute to people's happiness and society's advancement.
You, as our customer, can expect our partners and associates to be dedicated to your success and act with respect and the highest level of professional integrity. As members of your team, you can expect us to exhibit a hands-on approach to drive tactical execution, and a big-picture mindset and sharing attitude to help you shape the next steps and strategic view. We will always tell you the truth as we see it and will continuously demonstrate a can-do, "always curious, always learning" attitude to deliver creative, results-focused solutions. Our way of working: Advise, Demonstrate, Inspire. Our commitment: caring for our customer's success.