“People don’t buy products. They buy progress.” — Clayton Christensen
Business owners want their organizations to succeed on many levels. This includes, but is certainly not exclusive to, products. Additionally, significant shifts in consumer priorities are forcing owners to re-design many of their strategies. The growing interest among consumers in new brands, private labels, as well as a new definition of “value” are obvious examples. Undoubtedly these changes create challenging times for B2B salespeople who have traditionally anchored their value on the 3 P’s (products, programs, price). Attempting to preserve a product-based sales model until the tumult is finished, however, may prove to be an overly optimistic plan. Instead, sales professionals should shift their emphasis toward the progress their clients want to make in order to create broader value and new selling opportunities.
Contractors who intend to survive the crisis will need to push their businesses in new directions, hoping to progress safely and profitably. This is an opportunity for B2B sales professionals with the acumen and awareness to help make these course corrections. Contractors will gladly pull these resources and solutions in to their business in order to accomplish their goals. Sales reps who understand and empathize with their clients’ need for progress can leverage their organizational resources accordingly. This new approach will result in mass customization rather than one-size-fits-all selling. Shifting the emphasis from products to progress may also expose opportunities to sell new or niche products that help themselves and their clients make money.
Learning as much as possible about a clients’ definition of progress begins with an interview:
*What type of progress would a client like to make? How do they intend to measure their results? What are their key objectives and results? What market pressures or competitive moves would they like to respond to? What are their blindspots? Which new or niche markets can they move in to or create? How are they distinguishing themselves in their market? What specific “moves” have they made to appeal to new consumer needs?
Sales reps who allow anxiety and habit to interfere with progress (their. own or their clients’) will have a difficult time accomplishing their goals. The 3 P’s were effective when an expertise gap– between rep and client, client and customer–imbued them with authority while protecting them from radical change. The gap is nearly gone and the market controls the sales cycle. Instead of resisting this reality, sales reps who help help their clients’ business succeed on many levels create new selling opportunities and resilient value. Progress is the. new product.