In previous blogs, we have examined Holden’s Four Stages of Sales Proficiency and the Holden’s Model Intent. The second dimension within Holden’s Four Stages of Sales Proficiency is Holden’s Model – Focus.
It’s a given that all sellers address product issues. However, Stage I Emerging Sellers center most of their time and effort on the product. They have been trained on product strengths and weaknesses and tend to view the world in this context.
Stage II Solution Sellers have learned that effective selling also requires them to look at the product through the customer’s eyes, which is their primary focus. They’re aware that they must recognize and address customer needs with empathy, compassion, and commitment. To their credit, these Solution Sellers focus on the customer with an eye toward coming up with solutions in order to get closer to the real needs driving the sales situation.
Stage III Compete Sellers certainly do not lose sight of the product and customer; however, they concentrate primarily on the competition and determining what it will take to win. The competition is at the top of their list, earning them the title of Compete Sellers. Whereas other sellers tend to avoid the opposition, this group actively seeks competitive intelligence in an attempt to figure out what they can expect from the competitor. They then formulate a strategy to win the business that takes this competitive information into account.
At the same time, any competitive activity could suggest that the competitor might attempt to change the buying criteria in the 11th hour of the sales situation, just as it is peaking. Not knowing how this might happen—but being aware that it has occurred in the past—the Stage III Compete Seller works to collapse the time frame by providing an incentive to place the order sooner. This enables him or her to pre-empt the competition and win the business.
Stage IV Customer Advisors go even further. They look beyond the product, customer, and competition to centre in on the customer’s customer and their competition. They determine how their company will contribute to the customer’s business success over time by providing significant Unexpected Value. As such, solutions are tied to customer-critical business issues that move them up the Sales Value Chain. Here there is strong Competitive Differentiation—where elasticity of demand will support higher pricing that corresponds with the increased value. These sellers work to conceptually draw a line from their solutions to increases or decreases in the customer’s market share.
Source: The New Power Base Selling: Master The Politics, Create Unexpected Value and Higher Margins, and Outsmart the Competition by Ryan Kubacki, Jim Holden