Archives For value

How will you get to the right people?  This is the question every sales person should be asking and it seems to be the focus of just about every sales training program or methodology.  Several years ago I had been working to get a meeting with a large healthcare organization in the southeast.  Our team had successfully met with the IT people several times and had established fairly good rapport; however, sales were slow in coming and budget seemed to be our primary obstacle.

Our strategy was to land a meeting higher in the organization where perceived business value might move some budget our way.  Finally, I was granted a meeting with the Vice President of Operations.  This person had the authority to approve money and would certainly be central to a successful proof of concept or pilot type project.  Our meeting started with the Vice President showing up late, but we were ready with our list of promising questions and discovery skills.

After an initial greeting and introduction, I launched into my “solution selling discovery process.” Giving me just enough rope to hang myself, our VP prospect answered the first question.  But as soon as I began presenting my follow-up question, he looked over at our IT advocate and roared, “I thought you said these guys had something important to share with us.  So far all I’ve heard are a bunch of open-ended sales questions.  What is the purpose of this meeting?”  How do you recover from that?

There are all kinds of tricks and strategies for getting that meeting at the top. However, in my experience, this is not the real challenge.  The real challenge, which is not adequately addressed in most sales books, is that of building peer level relationships at the executive level.  We have all gotten the “Big” meeting at some point in our lives, but how many are consistently staying at this level after the first meeting?

© 2011, David Stelzl

Today we completed another strategy workshop specifically on building the managed services offering.  Few comments should be noted for those of you still working on making this a success:

1. The value you bring to the client has less to do with the technology used in the back end, and more to do with understanding your clients’ core needs – needs that can be met through some type of managed programs.  Start by identifying core needs and then figure our how to package aspects of your service to address them.  Then put together the right technology.  This should all hing on consultative and project oriented services you already provide.  The plan must proceed the technology choice.

2. Price it right the first time.  You’ll be sorry if you sell this to everyone only to discover it isn’t profitable.

3. It’s tempting to build it, then figure out how to sell it.  Selling it may be the hardest part – figure some percentage of your client base will buy it.  Then what?  Client acquisition is critical to the success of this offering.

4. Finally – managed services is a commodity.  Your success in selling this will depend on your ability to attach it to higher value activities that precede the sale of manged services.

P.S. I’m writing this while riding from Boston Logan to my hotel – isn’t technology great!

© 2010 David Stelzl

  • Proposals don’t sell solutions – they state what’s already been agreed to. Don’t use your proposal to state your value proposition.
  • When you change your selling process based on a company’s protocol for bidding, you turn your value proposition into a commodity. It was your proclaimed ability to create differentiation that got you in your current job position; don’t agree to sell on a “so-called” level playing field.
  • The RFP process was created by government to prevent corruption – of course it’s been a failure. Instead, it has taken every provider’s differentiation out of the decision making process. In fact, the decision is most often made before the RFP is written.
  • When gatekeepers claim that decision makers don’t have time to see you, you should be asking if these same people have time to live with their current condition vs. the few minutes you’re asking for.
  • Before you can propose, you have to come to an agreement on value. Without such an agreement, there can’t be a fair evaluation of price.

I just received a creative postcard in the mail – I thought I’d share it with those of you who are out selling.  Bill Whitley, a good friend and colleague sends me a card picturing an Eskimo with the frequently seen red circle and slash – NO ICE FOR ESKIMOS…it’s part of his campaign to steer sales people away from selling clients things they don’t need.  He says in his note, “I would much rather do the best possible discovery, understand my customer’s needs, and create a solution that they want to buy and will benefit from for years to come (and will thank me for).  Well said Bill.  You can reach Bill for more sales insights at