In previous blogs, we have examined Holden’s Four Stages of Sales Proficiency, Holden’s Model Intent, Holden’s Model Focus and Holden’s Model Relationship. The fourth dimension within Holden’s Four Stages of Sales Proficiency is Holden’s Model Value.
The fourth behaviour centres on value. Customers see Stage I Emerging Sellers as individuals who provide product options and information. As discussed earlier, this has largely been replaced by the Internet research that customers do before contacting a seller. Stage II Solution Sellers, on the other hand, have adopted a solutions approach to selling that centres on the operational aspects of what the customer is trying to accomplish while also focusing on the business value that it represents.
Stage III Compete Sellers understand that business value is clearly important. However, they also know that they will likely not drive repeat business if they do not clearly express what political contribution they’re making as well. A contribution like this occurs when Compete Sellers professionally and ethically participate in the healthy and natural Power Struggles for resources, as an example, or work to advance the aspirations of powerful people within an organization. All these actions are completed in an attempt to maximize what is in the best interest of the customer organization in order to drive long-term business.
An example of this occurs when a salesperson is competing for a repeat order to service the need for more customer capacity at the same time that a key decision maker has just been replaced by a new individual. The Compete Seller knows that this could be a problem. If the new guy has a bias for a competitor whose equipment is compatible with the existing systems, a switch could be made. Quickly spending time with the new player allows the Compete Seller to understand whether recognition and vertical mobility are important to him. As a result, the Compete Seller may alter her proposal to provide additional value beyond just meeting the capacity requirement. Although it’s not a lot, it could be sufficient for the new decision maker to put his stamp on the approach. After all, politically speaking, there is no recognition in going with a “me too” solution.
Stage IV Customer Advisors aspire to provide value at all levels. They provide a continuum of value that ranges from a specific solution to the political advancement of key customer individuals to operating in a manner that complies with and possibly strengthens the customer’s culture—all with the purpose of contributing to their strategic direction. It is this type of selling that allows suppliers to price assertively and have access to long-range customer business information, which in turn impacts forecast quality and builds competitive immunity within accounts. You can see an example of this when a Customer Advisor is able to personify a company’s work ethic. He or she places more of an emphasis on understanding the values that the customer considers to be a vital part of how his or her company does business, rather than merely focusing on formulating a good solution. The Customer Advisor then actively incorporates those values into the implementation of the solution.
Let’s say that the customer highly values the concept of collaboration. The supplier could have installed a given solution on a turnkey basis without customer involvement but instead forms a working team of both supplier and customer individuals that will, at the end of the day, help the customer better utilize and maintain the equipment. This increases perceptible value because it reflects what is important to the customer.
Regarding value, look at Holden’s Model Value figure above. At which stage would you objectively place yourself? Where would you place your sales organization?
Source: The New Power Base Selling: Master The Politics, Create Unexpected Value and Higher Margins, and Outsmart the Competition by Ryan Kubacki, Jim Holden