To coincide with The Sales Conference, Mercuri International’s annual event that brings together global sales leaders, Mercuri Research conducted an in-depth survey of over 1,000 sales executives from around the world. Based on this survey, a report was created, ‘The Future State of Sales’, which identified and explored the top 10 trends preoccupying the minds of sales leaders towards the end of 2021.
Mercuri Research’s top 3 trends in sales:
- Customer Value Orientation
- Innovation Acceleration
- Remote Selling
At the top of the list, however, came ‘Customer Value Orientation’ – the idea that companies need to pivot from a product centric approach to one that emphasised providing ‘value’ to the customer. 85% of sales executives identified this as the most significant trend – critical to their strategic thinking over the next few years. But what exactly do we mean by ‘Customer Value Orientation’?
The move from product expert to customer expert
Traditionally, sales representatives have been product experts – they’ve had a granular knowledge of their own product or service and, to a lesser extent, how they sit in the broader market and stack up against the competition. But with changes in the buying culture (the majority of the decision making process is made prior to a buyer even contacting a vendor) it’s no longer enough to know your own product and simply hope that it aligns with the customer’s needs. To stay competitive you need to think ‘back to front’ – working out exactly what the customer needs and then tailoring your offer to those specific requirements.
This is where Value Based Selling (or VBS) comes in.
Why VBS matters more than ever
VBS is fundamental to this move towards a customer-centric sales model. It moves the needle away from product features and price as the primary points for discussion and negotiation, instead focusing on the value that a given product or service provides to the customer. The shift from product-centricity was already an existing trend – the move to become customer-centric is nothing new – but what is new is the sense of urgency.
Today’s sales landscape has become hyper-competitive, particularly in terms of sensitivity to cost. With inflation at an historic high in many parts of the world and supply chain issues disrupting sales models, many businesses are feeling the pressure. Where VBS shines is in the way it enables sales representatives to show the ultimate value of their offering – and when you can show that your product is beneficial to the customer in terms of its total business benefit, the conversation becomes less about price, more about outcomes.
Is business ready for change?
So, businesses can benefit hugely from a rethink of their approach, incorporating value based selling at a systemic level into their corporate culture. Worryingly, however, 38% of sales executives expressed the opinion that their sales organisation simply didn’t possess the skills required to operate in this new arena. What this means to HR is clear – retraining and upskilling is critical to staying ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive industry landscape.
Value Based Selling isn’t ‘just another’ sales technique or acronym – it’s the basis for rethinking corporate culture and changing perspective.
It’s about seeing the world from the customer’s point of view and creating a value proposition that makes it that much easier to close the deal. Deep dive