When is Sales (Person or Process) the Value?

Every entrepreneur can do a brief 2-hour standup presentation on their product any time someone asks.  As companies grow they delight in sharing their innovation, product excellence or latest new feature that competitors don’t yet have with staff, the market, partners and in later life Wall Street.


Ad agencies, technical writers and app developers learn every way to talk about the products, they create product graphics and develop videos for YouTube.


The entrepreneurs or a mass of corporate fixates on every detail of the design, they describe exactly what the product does, how it does it with comparisons (including the new lower price) to every other remotely similar product in the market.


So, at this point the product developer has spent a great deal of time and money to develop something they think is very cool, important, valuable or even necessary for a buyer or a group of buyers.  The creative force behind the product developed it because they believe the product will be compelling in the market, it will sell for a reasonable price and will delight the buyers to launch a long-term relationship funded by repeat business.


The world according to the buyer is different.  All buyers have limited resources and a shopping list that stretches beyond the most optimist resource availability.  Most buyers have “heard it all.”  They have heard sellers offering to save the buyer money (almost ever seller tells that story).  They have heard that sellers have great people, long histories, a good BBB score, a guarantee, a long warranty and a long list of features other vendors don’t have - but if they do have them this seller’s features are better.  Various sellers offer “no interest” for 12 months, free shipping, 24-hour service with US operators and of course their product was assembled in the US.


From the buyer’s chair this messaging that sounds the same for every sales process (automobiles, computers, insurance, phones, production machines and copy paper).  It is no wonder the buyers stopped listening in about 1986.


Sellers wonder why the buyers don’t want the true story (all the product details).  Maybe it is because they all sound the same, they buyer assumes they are all “good enough”, that most of the features will never be used and the buyer is not sure what the difference REALLY is between different seller’s product features. 


Buyers became “hard” years ago.  If everyone was really saving the buyer money, why is the cost of doing business going up so fast.  Buyers believe the best they can hope for is “good enough” products with no “bad surprises” and reasonable support.  No matter how well it works in the short-term it will get worse over the long-term.


Today there are 4 things that break that buyer / seller pattern.  What breaks that pattern is when the sales (person and/or process) stops talking about the product and starts listening for problems and value (listen to the buyer).


  1. This change is to a fully transparent peer-to-peer conversation that goes both ways from seller to buyer and back sets new expectations.

  2. Based on that transparency buyers’ opt-in for deeper more deliberate conversations about both business and operational goals and problems.

  3. This deliberate and transparent conversation about business and operations moves to the next level with a Joint SOW (Scope of Work) that applies the seller’s thought leadership (which includes products and services) to the buyer’s strategic and operational goals.  (Strategic and Operational Goals apply to both B2B and B2C.)

  4. This Joint SOW is where both parties answer the question “is the best decision at this time to work together?”  The joint SOW also spells out the roles, responsibilities, resources required and outcomes to move forward to achieve the buyer’s stated goals.

The sales process when executed with humans, technology or a combination defines the value of the buyer’s problem and the value the seller receives for solving the problem.

  • In step one the buyer is exploring what they intend to invest resources in – most of the time with a limited idea of what is possible or what investment is needed to achieve the goal or of the value available from a redefined goal.  It is the transparency between the two organizations that establish a workable framework.

  • Step two starts with both realizing the other party under the right conditions might be a valuable partner and that is worth additional investment to investigate the total value available and what it takes to capture that value.

  • Step three is where both parties are fully transparent (since that is in both parties’ best interest and the total value available justifies it) and exploring working as partners to capture all the value they can afford to invest in.  This goes to the work plan required so no one goes forward to unwelcome surprises.

  • Step four acknowledges the value is there for both parties and that the plan to go forward can work.  Based on that learning the contract is jointly developed to assure the work and the value to be shared.

The value to the buyer and to the seller comes from the problems solved which are identified and developed in the selling process.  The problems solved are defined, aligned and the execution planned during the selling process with whatever combination of people and technology works best. 


So, if the question is When is sales (person or process) the value?  The answer is “the value always comes from the selling process.”  If the process is great the value is great.  If the process is random or bad the value is low.


Without a great selling process there is a product the buyer does not fully understand the value of developed by a seller at the seller’s HQ to sell something.


When you are the buyer demand a great seller process – when you are the seller provide a great value-added process for the buyers.


Rick McPartlin founded The Revenue Game to help companies focus their organizations around the critical function of revenue generation. Rick has held senior executive positions and consulted for many Fortune 500 firms (Sun Microsystems, Siemens, McDonnell Douglas and Bell South) and small companies alike, and he's shared his passion for "revenue generation as a science" for more than 20 years and is currently certifying “Revenue Science ”professionals in Chief Revenue Officer Thinking.


You can reach him at rick.mcpartlin@therevenuegame.com or online at www.therevenuegame.com.

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