Your Focus

Consultant v sales person

Wednesday, 24 August 2005 ( #224 )
Stuart started his materials handling career with Hoist Liftruck, Mfg and currently works for GNB, an Exide Technologies division. For the last 12 years, he has been focused on working with sales distribution networks to maximise brand awareness and market share. He also produces a monthly column, Lead and Acid, for his customers.
In sales and service organisations worldwide, many claim a key difference between themselves and their competitors is being able to "add value" for their customers. However, value like many other things in life, is in the eye of the beholder. Does one add value by giving away products or services or does a salesperson add value by making customers more profitable? That is the dilemma. Typically, organisations attempt to add value by extending credit terms, reducing prices or providing free minor after-sale services to the customers. Are these incentives really adding value for the customer? Or is your customer receiving an incentive or promotion disguised as value? When you can add value for your customer, you transform the sales process from being a low-price-wins-all quote to a value proposal. All of us know only too well what happens when the customer does not perceive the presence of value. The sales process is quickly diminished to price and the low bidder gains the order. Unfortunately for us, the customer does not see credit term extensions, price reductions or minor after-sale services as additional value. The customer whose key criterion is price, views these incentives as standard concessions and part of the low-price-wins-all process. If you are asking - "How do I add value for my customer if my customer does not perceive the incentives I have available as true value adders?" - consider this simple rule. Add value before you actually begin quoting your customer for a product or service. One of the most effective methods of adding value is to identify techniques or methods that can add profitability and/or savings to a customer's business. Forklift companies could offer best practices seminars for planned forklift maintenance. Battery companies could offer seminars on new technologies, such as fast charge options. When you provide information to keep your customer's material flowing, you improve your customer's productivity, which increases his profitability. And here is the value of your experience: the customer will possibly move you from his list of "salespersons" to his list of consultant-experts. Salespeople sell a commodity but consultant-experts provide a valued service for which customers will gladly pay. Many will even pay a premium once value has been established.