SELLING TO THE CUSTOMER’S OUTCOME
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SELLING TO THE CUSTOMER’S OUTCOME

My last blog covered some weighty concepts so over the next few posts I will dive in  more deeply to each element.

As I stated in the original blog,”WHY SELL TO CUSTOMER’S OUTCOME?”, selling is nothing more than creating the potential for value for the customer. Don’t waste their time pushing your products or services. Don’t try to convince them they have a problem they don’t believe they have. Simply seek to understand what the customer is trying to achieve – meaning the outcomes they want to obtain and how they will measure success for those outcomes. How they will measure success is ultimately how they will measure value.  You create value by showing them you are capable and committed to providing more or better or faster or cheaper outcomes than their next best alternative.

 

I received a lot of feedback and questions about how to sell to the outcome and what are the other advantages in doing so. I’ll attempt to summarize the answers in this continuation of the original blog. First let’s discuss how you might approach selling to an outcome. I find it helpful to imagine that your prospect is not simply interested in buying your product or service but also in paying your company to implement those products/services. Furthermore, let’s assume they will not pay you the full amount unless the products/services (and you) perform in a satisfactory manner. This is not so farfetched when you consider that most sales reps want to win, keep and grow an account! The “winning” may be relatively straightforward, but the “keeping” and “growing” become problematic unless the customer is happy with their original purchase.

Faced with this situation, what are some of the critical pieces of information you would want to know before agreeing to this type of business arrangement? Here is a good place to start:

 

  • What are the criteria for satisfactory (outcomes)?
  • What specific metrics will be used to measure each criteria (value)?
  • Who will use or consume the products/services and be the judge of satisfactory (key decision makers)?
  • When do they want to achieve this future happy state and how high a priority is it (qualify)?
  • What other options have they considered and what did they like about those options (alternatives)?
  • What else, specifically, have they been looking for that they have not yet found (potential for more value)?

 

While this list is not exhaustive, and it is not my intent to create another sales process, I think it gets to the heart of the matter. We’ll assume you’ve gotten your foot in the door by piquing the customer’s interest (arguably the first and hardest step in any sale). The best sales reps know that the curiosity they want to create concerns the potential problems or opportunities their company can help the customer address – not their products or services. But this is a topic for another blog on another day.

 

Right now, we’ve gotten our foot in the door and we need some answers quickly.  n a nutshell, we need to know the outcomes the customer wants to achieve (the outcomes are what they are buying); how will they measure success (how they will talk about value); who will measure success (the key people we need to be selling to); how important is it and when do they want to achieve it (begin to qualify this opportunity); and can we beat their other alternatives (fully qualify the opportunity).

 

After all, if we are not talking to the right people, about something important to them, that they want to address in a certain timeframe, and are prepared to commit resources to, then what are we doing? Some may call the other stuff sales, but customers will more likely characterize it as wasting their time.

 

Note I have not mentioned “pain” because that is where the customer is today. They want to talk about a future happy ending versus the pain today. I have also not mentioned “budget”.  If we are selling to the right people and solving significant issues for them in a big way, then budgets can typically be found.

 

What are the advantages of this approach? There are many, but I’ll summarize the most important ones as follows:

 

  • Selling to outcomes will typically get you in front of the key decision makers
  • Positioning how those outcomes will be positively impacted will make it easier for your customer contact to sell higher in their organization if they can’t sign the check
  • Outcomes and success metrics will help you develop a more compelling value proposition (which results in bigger, better and faster deals)
  • Selling to outcomes will help you look different and outflank your competitors who are probably still pitching products and services (which results in better conversion rates meaning more deals)

 

In the next blog in this series, we talk about how selling outcomes helps you negotiate better deals.