For the last 30 years or so in the semiconductor industry we have sold a concept that might just have been wrong! This is a mindset shift that we can make now and that could easily have been of great positive impact had we recognized it much earlier. And this shift in thinking that I will propose could easily apply to any number of industries and market places.
As always with shifts in thinking, not everyone will understand the differences, or choose to accept them, and that is quite OK. And those that do (you) will benefit from the shift in methodology that this shift in mindset sets up.
So what is this epiphany?
In our past, we have worked to make sure our clients were fully informed and understood the TRUE Total Cost of Ownership. Total Cost of Ownership discussions required us to put negative facts on the table that the people we were working with may or may not have actually taken time to include in their analysis of the choices they had made. Most of the time, as sellers of the “preferred” solution, we detailed a specific, unrecognized, significant cost factor that raised the costs of the “other” solution when factored in.
In the case of the semiconductor industry, in the early days of the concept of “field programmability” we pitted our “flexible” solutions against the non-flexible offerings of what were called mask programmable solutions. The true cost of ownership of a mask programmable solution actually included many elements that were not normally included in the price comparison at a piece by piece level. There were up front manufacturing costs in the “other” solutions that would be thousands of dollars, there could be the scrap costs as many times these less flexible solutions needed changes to finally function. It was really an easy conversation to have.
And in actuality, it probably was NOT wrong for its time. Those were different times, and we were selling an education, not just products in these cases.
That was then, however, and the same old thinking will NOT get us where we need to go today. Talking just about cost is the same as talking just about price. We need a different perspective – a differentiated perspective if you will.
So, no more Total Cost of Ownership.
Its time to change the words, that will change the thinking, that will change the actions, and get the results we want.
So instead, we need to talk about Total Benefit of Ownership.
A minor shift in words and a huge shift in thinking, discussion, and action.
If Total Benefit of Ownership is BETTER, BEST is Total Profits Added.
You can easily imagine the 2-way conversations that you will now have with a client when you start to position your answers to their needs in terms of the benefits that can be achieved by the client when they execute on the ideas that you CO-CREATE with them.
That focus on achievement outcome from a positive perspective is only made more powerful when you, together, take the time to specifically spell out how the impact that actions taken in the directions created by you and your client will actually generate ADDED PROFIT of $$XXX. Not just revenue, but bottom line profit. Having that level of discussion and spelling it all out at that detail level demonstrates your complete commitment to the success of the client and the people you are serving.
As you do this, you can rest assured that you will be in a unique perspective with your client, as everyone else is stuck back at product features, benefits, and cost.
Time for a discussion about TOTAL BENEFIT ADDED!
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. - Theodore Roosevelt
As sales people our past success over several decades has been driven by data - data in the form of what we KNEW. Our success in “selling” was once based on the information that we had in our heads, the people that we knew, the contacts that we had, and the resources that we knew how to deploy.
Unfortunately, today significant portions of what once made us winners no longer matter, and many of us still can’t get over the ways of the past.
In a recent blog, a friend and fellow sales fanatic, Dave Brock wrote about how poorly many sales people today prospect for clients. Check out his thoughts, they are great. I see the same thing today from EVERY single call and email that I get from salespeople who are wanting a piece of my time.
The message starts like this:
(We can stop right here because clearly my name was picked out of some database somewhere. The only person ever to call me by my full name was my Mother, when I was in trouble.)
“Mitchell, my name is Bob Blah and I would really like to have just 10 minutes of your time to tell you all about my blah, blah, blah. We are number one in blah, blah, blah. And today we serve 159 of the Fortune 500 companies. Our blah, blah, blah, will help you sell more and solve all of your problems.”
I actually do not pick up my office phone any longer because these calls come all day, every day. It’s sad. If just once, one of these hard working folks would call up and demonstrate that they actually cared about what was important to me, I would be delighted to call them back. But in the last decade that has never happened. Not even once.
To connect with the people in our lives, while selling or not, we have to CARE, and we have care about THEM.
Our understanding of what is important to THEM, what their challenges are, and how we can help, must come before we ever get into a discussion about our products or services or anything to do with us.
Our clients will care about what we have to say, ONLY when we clearly demonstrate that we care about them FIRST. And it must be in that order. And it must be genuine and sincere. No games, no pitches, no opening and closing strategies, no handling of objections, no manipulation, no SELLING!
Start with caring about them as people, not them as a part of a company. Do your homework about their world. Understand what you can about their issues in their company, their challenges in their industry, the risks that they face daily in innovation… And keep seeking to understand, because you care. Turn the understanding and caring around to focus on the person that you are serving.
You will find that those people that you care enough to serve well from their perspective will in fact care a great deal about what YOU have to say, in time. And from there the caring and information sharing explodes.
Your clients care because you care. You first!
Once upon a time our value as sales people was information. It actually still is, but the new reality is that to get to the point in a client relationship where your information is again valuable, you must enter into that relationship from the perspective of listening and diagnosing first, extensively, before you prescribe.
Sounds easy, but most sales people that I interact with today are still pushing their stuff on me before they have ever stopped to understand me. Too bad. Their loss, and our gain, since we know the secret… CARE about the people who you serve.
In the beginning there were people who made stuff and people who needed stuff. Then there were the peddlers of stuff who helped the makers and the buyers find each other. The peddlers of stuff were very successful for hundreds of years, because both the makers and the buyers needed them. Stuff was bought and sold and everyone was okay. Then things changed.
Today’s business landscape is rapidly and radically changing and people and organizations are struggling to keep up. Product information was once the golden nugget that every salesperson owned and shared only with those people who they chose to enlighten. The salespeople were once the Kings and Queens of data and information and they reigned supreme. The true product that the salesperson offered up was the information that the client could not easily find. That was then.
Consider this: between the beginning of time and 2003, 5 exabytes of data were created. In 2013, 5 exabytes of data were created each day. In 2014, 90% of the total data and information in the world had been created in the last 2 years. And the prognosis is that the amount of data and information in the world will double every year shortly, and then every 6 months, and on and on. This commoditization of data and information has totally changed the value that a salesperson must deliver today. This rapid change in the creation of information is closely tied to the shifting trends in the nature of work and business. Some futurists estimate that close to 50% of jobs will be extinct in 20 years.
The jobs on the endangered list are not just the obvious ones like travel agents and the milkman. Accountants, air traffic controllers, utility engineers and teachers are all at risk – and so is the sales professional.
The sales professional is on the verge of extinction. Up until now the salesperson was the keeper and deliverer of information, but now they are not really needed for that anymore.
So what do they do?
The good news is that there are clear and valuable answers to that question. In recent months and years there have been a number of sales methodologies presented to bring relevance to the field of selling. The Challenger Sale is the best of those in my opinion. The basic tenets of Teach, Tailor, and Take Control only come from an in-depth understanding of the true value of insight and how best to create and deliver it. Done poorly it is just another substitute for commoditized information. And even in the domain of insight there are key differences that you can make. We will explore those as well as many elements in this journey.
The key difference in the work that Hendre Coetzee and I have done over the last several years shows us that methodology shifts are not sufficient. To stay relevant and avoid obsolescence you will need to make a mindset shift FIRST. Only from there can you properly attack making a shift in what you DO. The specific actions needed to make the shift will be detailed in the book and in the works from Hendre and myself.
Shifting mindset AND methodology is required for completely reversing the erosion of the sales professional’s relevance in a highly commoditized world.