Nov 19, 2020 • Podcast

How do I create more value in tough times?

On this episode, Paul lays out three ways you can create more value, even in tough times. 

Show Notes

“Whether it’s good times or whether it’s tough times, your customers always want value.”

Customers crave stability.

“When you are demonstrating stability, you want to show your customer that ….”

“Be flexible. You’ve got to do business the way they want to do business.”

What can you (and your company) do to be more customer focused?

“Look at your customers through a fresh set of eyes.”

Solve the customer’s problems in a creative way.

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Check out this episode!

How do I create more value in tough times?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about creating value for our customers during tough times. This came from a recent webinar. The company that I was working with is experiencing tough times. Their industry is experiencing tough times, and they wanted to know: How do you create more value for your existing customers and your prospects during these tough times? So that’s the question we’re going to answer on today’s show.

Before we do that, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. Andrea has graciously offered to set up a complimentary consultation. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast; if you’re looking to build on a podcast idea that you already have, reach out to her. We’re going to have information on how to connect with Andrea on this episode’s webpage. So, make sure you reach out to her. I know that some of you out there are probably thinking, “Man, I could do a podcast. I wonder what I could talk about,” or “Here’s an idea I have for a podcast.” Hey, reach out to Andrea. She will help you all the way from the idea and helping you develop that idea, all the way through completion: getting it set up, launching it and getting it ready to go. With that being said, she has certainly helped spread the word on this podcast. The podcast is approaching 60 countries. Almost 60 countries have downloaded The Q and A Sales Podcast. And that shows you just how far this can reach. Alright? So, reach out to Andrea.

Also pick up your latest edition of Value-Added Selling. In Value-Added Selling, we talk about creating value and the unique things that you can do. In fact, we have a whole section in the book on what we call defensive selling. Defensive selling is about treating your best customers as if they were your best prospects. And we’ve got to remember that they are, for the competition. So, in order to prevent our customers from leaving, we’ve got to figure out ways to create more value. I’m going to share a couple of tips from that section of the book. So, for more depth, pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. It’s available on Amazon or wherever you get your books.

Let’s get back to that question: How do you create more value for your customers in tough times? Well, let’s first look at a reality. Whether it’s good times or whether it’s tough times, your customers always want value. They’re always going to want that value. And they’re always comparing what they sacrifice to what they gain. And as long as what they gain is greater than what they sacrifice, we call that value. However, customers will define value differently in tough times. There are three things we’re going to talk about today on how you can create more value for your customers in tough times.

The first thing is stability. Customers want stability. Remember that, during tough times, there’s a lot of fear; there’s a lot of uncertainty; there is a lot of doubt in the mind of your buyer. They [don’t] like the status quo. They want things to get back to normal. They want some sort of stability and that’s what you have to offer them. So, a question to think about for you, your company, and also the products and services that you’re selling: How do you demonstrate stability? Do you have data that shows the quality and performance of your products and services? Do you have testing data showing how reliable your solution is? That breeds stability in the mind of the buyer. Also, think about your company’s longevity; their experience.

It was funny. I was working with a group of salespeople—this is right before the pandemic—right before the big pandemic hit and all the uncertainty filled our world. Their company had been around for over 100 years, over a hundred years. And, in our training, one of the salespeople asked, they said, “Paul does that really matter? I mean, does it really matter that we’ve been around for over a hundred years?” I explained to the group, I said, “You know, when it comes to value—first of all, the customer defines it. So if the customer believes it matters, then it definitely matters.” I go, “But let’s look at this from a broader perspective here for a moment. If your company has been around for a hundred years, that tells me that your company is doing something right. Your company has survived the great depression and the great recession and several downturns in between. That shows stability, longevity.”

Shortly hereafter that meeting, the pandemic hit, and I remember reaching out to that group and I said, “Hey, you asked if stability matters. It certainly matters now.” With all the uncertainty, with everything going on, people crave that stability. So be able to demonstrate those qualities in your company.

And then finally, think about you as the salesperson. If you’ve been around for a while; if you’ve got a lot of experience in one industry or one segment of an industry, you need to showcase that for your customers. You need to be able to explain to them just how much experience you have, because [it’s] the experience that builds stability, especially experience with previous downturns.

I remember—this was a couple of years ago when oil and gas started to tank a little bit—I was working with a group and their business was really struggling. And there was one particular salesperson selling in the oil and gas segment of their industry. His business, it was at 30 percent of what it was the year before. Let’s use round numbers. Let’s say this guy was pumping out $10 million a year in revenue. Now he’s pumping out $3 million. And I remember asking him, I said, “How do you handle that sort of decline?” And he looked at me with a calm confidence and he said, “I’ve been through these before. I’ve been through several downturns in our industry. We always bounce back.” And the way he displayed that calm confidence, customers want to feel that during tough times. So, remember that, as a tough timer yourself, that when you are demonstrating stability, you want to show your customer that calm confidence.

The next thing we’ll talk about is flexibility. Other ways you can create value for the customer is you’ve got to be flexible. You’ve got to do business the way they want to do business. I’m shocked and amazed at how often I work with a company and the company says, “Hey, we are customer focused. We are all about taking care of the customer.” And then, I look at some of their policies, and procedures. We take a look at how they can improve. We get feedback from their salespeople, and we’re able to come up with a list of policies and procedures that were created to serve the company rather than serve the customer.

When we think about this, this is one thing that customers will not tolerate in tough times. They don’t want you to be rigid on the policy, they want you to be flexible. They want you to work with them to help them, sometimes prevail, but survive even in these tough times. So that’s what we need to do.

Some ways that we can do this— First of all, look at your terms and conditions. Are there things you can do to better support your customer during tough times? Whether it’s being a little more lenient on your terms, offering them more favorable terms, think about what it could be. And that’s, of course, if it’s a good customer. If it’s a customer that you don’t mind if they go to the competition then, hey, stick with your policies and procedures.

Next thing, look at things like order quantities. I know that there’s a lot of min/max type orders or size orders that really are going to determine how flexible you’re willing to be. But, think about how you can switch that up, or even how you can offer your customer a la carte type of options, where you can split up your packages to give them just what they need versus everything that you have to offer. Remember that, in tough times, customers are going to streamline their purchasing so that they focus purely on needs. And they’re not as concerned about all those extras, niceties, and things like that. So, be flexible in how you design your packages.

Finally, just ask your customer, “Hey, what can we do to be more flexible with you during these tough times?” You might be surprised at what they say. Flexibility is going to be key. Ask yourself, ‘Does this policy/procedure, does it add any value to our customer, or is it just for us?” If the answer is it’s just for us, I would consider just getting rid of that policy or procedure. So, remain flexible.

Third thing, you’ve got to solve their problems. One thing we know about tough times, tough times will reveal weaknesses. Tough times really take the mask off of our business and we see what is really there. And oftentimes, when we remove that mask—the mask that was created from good times—we find that we have some problems; problems that we didn’t know before. And so, during these tough times, remember that customers are going to experience more problems. As the salesperson, you have to be more aware of that. You have to look at your customers through a fresh set of eyes. You have to identify new ways that you can create value, and that often happens by finding additional problems to solve.

When you’re out there meeting with your customers, interacting with them, talk to more people. Ask them questions. Get to know other departments, and become curious as you meet with them. Ask them about their business, what they’re doing, what challenges they’re facing. And every time you’re meeting with your best customers, ask them, “What other problems are you experiencing that I can help out with?” The more you ask that question, the more opportunities are going to be revealed. Not only that, but you’re going to continue to brand yourself as a problem solver. So when the customer does have a problem, you’re the first one that they’re going to reach out to.

So, those three things: If you really want to create more value for your customers, you’ve got to be stable. You’ve got to show and demonstrate your stability. You also have to demonstrate your flexibility. And then, finally, you’ve got to look for ways to solve more problems.

As we close out today’s session, I’m going to share one more instance of how a salesperson was able to creatively solve problems. This was just a few years ago, so everything was going well. It wasn’t that any one industry was facing tough times, however, one customer of his fell on some tough times. This customer lost a couple of projects. They were a large construction company. This company had a bunch of extra equipment laying around and they needed to raise some capital. And so, this salesperson had a great relationship with the owner of this company, with some of the other higher ups, and they jokingly mentioned, “Yeah. You know, we don’t have many projects going on these days. We’re looking to unload some of this equipment. Let us know if you know anyone that’s interested in buying some equipment.”

So, that salesperson ended up reaching out to a couple other of his customers, talked to some of their owners, and was able to broker a couple of deals where that customer could unload some of their equipment to raise some cash for them. Now, you think about this for a moment. This salesperson was able to solve two problems. They were able to help out the customer who was struggling by helping them liquidate their equipment. The salesperson was also able to solve a problem for some of his other customers. His other customers needed equipment, but maybe they didn’t want to buy new equipment. So, he was able to help broker a deal to get them equipment that they normally would have to pay full price for brand new, whatever it might be. This is a salesperson who was able to solve some problems in a creative way.

Again, make sure that you’re demonstrating stability, demonstrating flexibility, and finding problems to solve.

Make it a big day.

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