Your Sales Process is a preview of what it is going to be like working with you. If you demonstrate your values you will not only make the Sales Process a true reflection of what the customer can expect, but you can use the values to differentiate yourself from the competition.
Let me give you an example. I’ve been working with a supplier to the Mining Industry recently and Mining is an industry where safety is front of mind for everyone. When my clients’ Operations teams work on site they start every working day with a Safety Share, so the Sales Team does the same. When they visit a prospect they look for safety issues on site and share them in a tactful way with the prospect before any sort of selling conversation starts. I even joined in when I ran a workshop with them. I told them about the perils of driving an unfamiliar vehicle in a foreign country and they gave me some excellent advice.
For my client, this is a way of demonstrating one of their company values in the way they sell. Showing the prospect how they work is so much better than just having a bullet point on a company slide.
From values to behaviours
Most of your company values will apply to the way solutions are delivered to customers and will be experienced by customers in the implementation stage. So it is particularly important that the Sales Team makes themselves familiar with the company values and builds them into the way they work. The aim is to move from presenting your values to consciously thinking about your values and turning them into behaviours that become the way you sell.
For instance, the US online shoe sales giant Zappos has a huge commitment to customer service. The first of their core values is ‘Deliver WOW through service’. The next is ‘Embrace and Drive Change and the third is ‘Create Fun and A Little Weirdness’. Almost all their contact with customers is through phone and email and stories of exceptional customer service are easy to find. For instance, when a woman called Zappos to return a pair of boots for her husband because he died in a car accident. The next day, she received a flower delivery, which the call centre rep had billed to the company without checking with her supervisor.
Once your values are established as behaviours you can start to make them part of your selection criteria when interviewing new Sales Team members. Of course you can mould new hires to some extent, but it is far easier if people are already aligned with some or all of your values.
The same applies to sub contractors. It’s no good setting high expectations in the Sales Process only to be let down by sub-contracted individuals or companies who fail to deliver against your values. We work with one of the world’s largest chemical companies, who use large numbers of sub contractors, but they are all very aware of the parent company values and their relationship with the chemical giant depends on them delivering against those values.
Values – Behaviours – Sales
I understand you may not want to start your meetings by warning prospects about safety issues on their premises or strive to deliver ‘a little weirdness’ but there will be aspects of your organisation and your values that are unique. It is well worthwhile identifying them and building them into behaviours that will make you stand out. And in any sales situation, you should be looking to act in ways that reflect your values.
Your competitors will be able copy product innovations and match prices relatively easily but it is much harder to match values that are built into the way you sell.
- Does your organisation have clearly defined values?
- Are those values reflected in the way you sell?
- Do you ensure those values are held by new hires and sub contractors?