Archives For competitive advantage

I was recently proposing a training class for a large manufacturer.  My main point of contact wanted the training and had money approved for it. However, they required a certain multiplier as a return on investment(ROI).  Is this an ROI sale?  No, it’s a competitive advantage sale – training is almost always a competitive advantage sale.  The request for numbers is purely red-tape in this case and is submitted using the client’s ROI model.  The same could be said for TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) requests.  If the client already wants what you provide, and has access to money, but requires internal financial analysis, don’t think of this as a financial sale.   As you might predict, using the client’s model, we made my numbers work.  Can I prove there will be a certain return on training?  No, I have no control over what sales people will do with the material I give them.  However, bureaucrats upstairs require the paper, so we worked out the math and submitted it.  My value proposition remains, competitive advantage.  The question will always be, “Will the sale people be able to sell more after going through my training?”  If they apply it, they will – and the price of training is easily recovered when that happens.

© 2011, David Stelzl

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I was somewhat embarrassed when one my long time friends and business associates contacted me last night to comment on yesterday’s white board post.  “I never use Power Point”, was his first comment…and I know he closes some very big deals.  But his second comment was a correction, and he’s absolutely right!  “Your competition will likely see your notes if you leave them there.”

I was reminded of one of my first big deals at the start of this business.  The meeting was set to be held in the decision maker’s office, and I had spent several hours deliberating over the scope, sales call plan, and of course, pricing.  The price was the hard part.  I didn’t want to lose the deal to price, I didn’t have a reputation that justified a big price, and I didn’t want to undersell this, leaving me with a great project for no money.  I finally settled on a price I thought would work, but when I entered the office my competitor’s notes were on the board.  Their price was far higher!  So when the time came to give a price, I confidently put forth a price 60% higher than my original estimate.  The deal was agreed to the next day, and I was the winner.  Bottom line…don’t leave anything on the board for your competition to see.  (Another strategy might be to put some wrong information up their in an effort to lead them astray…said with a chuckle).

© 2011, David Stelzl