Taking Commodity to Value
By: Dieter Giblin, Security Consultant, Integrated Security Technologies Inc.
In today’s ever challenging world of commoditizing, many sales professionals find it difficult to hold value. Society today is a society of Big Box retailers and Amazon. It is more and more competitive and the competition is not always with Joe’s Alarm Shop down the street, it is with knowledgeable customers.
How do you break your way out of that? It starts with a conversation with your prospect/customer where you ask the thought provoking questions that separates you from not just the internet but from Joe’s Alarm Shop. I like to use an acronym when I discuss this with young sales professionals, asking them, ”are you a JASR or are you a trusted advisor?” JASR means “Just Another Sales Rep”. JASR’s come in and speak to the prospect (ex. “Man I have a solution for you! We will put 5MP cameras here, alarm these doors, and we will give you Fobs to enter… Blah, Blah, Blah…..”). Ask yourself, are you that person? If you are, step back and see how you hold your value to your prospect. It should be an easy conversation with yourself… odds are you are having some difficulty holding value.
You have that one shot to take it from commodity-driven to value-driven and once you get shoved in the commodity box it is next impossible to get out of it.
So let’s go back to how I opened this conversation, it starts in the beginning at the first meeting. You have that one shot to take it from commodity-driven to value-driven and once you get shoved in the commodity box it is next impossible to get out of it. It may sound basic but you would be surprised how many reps continue to make that mistake and then wonder why they have to drop their price and get pigeonholed.
In that first meeting you look to align yourself to your prospect’s needs, understand the implication of what they want to do, and help them understand how it will work. It starts with asking them questions. You look to become a partner or, as I like to say, a trusted advisor. My first manager told me you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Ask questions and listen to what they are saying. Then formulate questions on why that is important to them, ask what they are accomplishing, and if they fail in their goal what are the consequences. Many reps jump in and start talking product before they know the answers to these important questions.
JASR: What is it your looking for?
Prospect: We are looking to watch our parking lot, we have had some break-ins.
JASR: Oh that’s a problem, but we have this great system that operates in low light and has 3MP as well we can set it to auto record on movement… (You get the picture)
That is a recipe to get commoditized.
You need to get in the habit of asking good questions, asking the questions of how their problem effects them, and never never talk product, talk solutions.
So tell me what issues you are experiencing today that brought you to Electronic Security?
I understand you are concerned over break-ins. Can you go into detail on when and where in the parking lot are they are occurring?
How have these break-ins affected your personnel and your company’s productivity?
What other measures have you explored besides cameras to help with this?
What are you trying to accomplish with this camera system? (While this one may sound a bit odd, it allows you to have conversation on prevention of the crime versus forensics).
This is the ground work to becoming a trusted advisor; asking the questions and digging deeper. You can then start to design a solution. It may be more then cameras, it may be a new gate system or better lighting, but you become the advisor. When the customer comes back to you about price, you then can have the discussion. You can point out that they stated their problem, you agreed on a fix and what it would take to repair the problem, and you discussed the implication of not fixing the problem. It is not slinging product, it is finding the best solution for the problem at hand.
This is a very basic principle. When you design the solution and you develop the relationship, you have better insight into the prospect and now you become a trusted advisor, not Just Another Sales Rep.
While I would love to say you will never get placed in the commodity box by following these tips, it will happen at times. Some prospects just think all sales are commodities, but if you learn to partner and have conversations with your prospects then you can take that to the next level. Once trusted, cost becomes an afterthought.
Here are a few books I recommend on this subject: