Sales forecasting is hard, because it’s predicting what will happen in a customer’s mind. What makes forecasting easier for a value-focused sales professional is the same thing. When your sales process is centers on how each customer values your offer, you set up shop inside their decision process.
A Primer: Seller Focused, Buyer-Focused, & Value-Focused Selling
Great selling organizations have migrated from seller-centric processes to buyer-focused methodologies. If you’ve made that move, great! Now, I challenge you to peel the customer onion back another few layers. Beneath the surface of customer-centricity, what your company really wants to accomplish is building customer-perceived value. All selling methodology “stuff” is context for – and surrounds– building value. Value focus concentrates on the decision-making at the core of “customer focus”.
Customer focus yields the right “who”. Methodology focuses on how.
Value focus lives in the why.
Value only exists in the customer’s mind. Elite salespeople are masters at the kind of conversations that build value between the customer’s ears. They use interactive dialogue, so the seller knows exactly what value – and how much of it – is forming in there. Unidirectional value messaging will never match the power of value dialogue.
Value builds off of differentiation. Elite salespeople build from differentiated offer, to the customer outcome that results, to desirability of that differentiated outcome (the definition of value) to build that value…again, using dialogue to facilitate a customer’s mental process. Another term for this is value co-creation.
Seller Focused, Buyer-Focused, & Value-Focused Forecasting.
OK, now apply the fruits of that value focused sales approach to forecasting. Forecasting predicting a customer’s reaction to our selling efforts.
Seller-focused forecasting uses co-created value as the basis for predicting a customer’s buying decision.
That truth is why buyer-focused selling works so much better. Methodology focuses on moving a buyer along a buying process in alignment with the selling process. Great methodology causes sales people to apply efforts to customers with the best fit/likelihood, so that they can win fast/lose fast. This improves forecast quality: methodology confirms that a buying process is occurring with the right prospects. This basis of forecasting is better than “gut feel”, but not the best available.
The same dialogue that builds value gives the elite seller insight into how the customer is currently comparing alternative choices. Forecasting is informed by “how the customer compares value of their top options”.
Value focused selling doesn’t conflict with methodology, but drives it to a deeper level. Remember, elite sellers build from their differentiation through customer desire for differentiated outcomes. Doesn’t it make sense that forecasts using customer-perceived value insights are better “predictors of a customer’s reaction” than forecasts based on “a customer with a good fit progressing well through a buying process”? Can you see why value should be the ultimate truth you seek within “customer-centric”?
Wait! Don’t Call Now. You Also Earn More Profitable Revenue!!
It’s not today’s topic, but elite, value-focused selling wins a higher percentage of opportunities, at more profitable prices… all with higher customer preference: that’s win-win pricing.
Hmmm. More predictable, more profitable, and well, …more… revenue. All at the same time.
- Sales Professionals: What would that combination of do for you, your coming quarterly business review, and your compensation?
- CSOs & CROs: What would that combination do for you and your career?
- CFOs: What would that combination do for your next investor call?
- COOs & CEOs: What would that combination do for your next board meeting?
Getting to the customer’s why and getting to yours sound like they are pretty well aligned. Feel free to contact me and discuss further.
I hope you found this article valuable enough to like, reshare, comment on…or stir around in your own mind.
To your success!