As I sit in the lobby of an industrial transport company, I can not help but think, why am I sitting here?
I have a meeting with a contact, who, according to my sales reports, has purchased products in the past. To me, it seemed logical to set an appointment with him and introduce myself. The problem is I had no real agenda.
I was merely asking for someone’s time.
When I went through sales training I was taught you needed five confirmed meetings a day. That should be the goal when you start in your territory.
So, this is exactly what I did. Unfortunately, I did not learn why you set a meeting, how to set a meeting, or why someone would want to meet.
Learning Value From Seneca
I reflected upon this situation as I read the philosophical, Seneca – On The Shortness Of Life. I enjoyed the following quote:
“All those who call you to themselves draw you away from yourself. […] I am always surprised to see some people demanding the time of others and meeting a most obliging response. Both sides have in view the reason for which the time is asked and neither regards the time itself — as if nothing there is being asked for and nothing given. They are trifling with life’s most precious commodity, being deceived because it is an intangible thing, not open to inspection and therefore reckoned very cheap — in fact, almost without any value.” – Seneca
I find this applicable to the life of the Sales Professional. We continually ask prospects for their time.
We claim the hardest part of the sales cycle is the close. In reality, the hardest part is asking for that first meeting.
We are asking for something more valuable than the money it takes to purchase. We asking the prospect to give their time. Possibly for something they know little about. The time we are asking for is their only non-renewable resource. To justify the time we ask for, we need to build a reason.
This is why value is the most important concept in sales.
Value provides you with justification to ask for a meeting. When it comes time to purchase, there should be no doubt in the prospect’s mind.
Value also lets you differentiate from the competition. Sometimes, the features and benefits are not enough to convince a buyer. What you can do for the customer and their business is what drives your value proposition.
So what is value exactly?
Value can be a general concept. It can be as general as whatever aspect of your pitch causes a prospect to buy. Or, as specific as the ROI your product will provide the customer. When I look at value, I believe it is a solution. Value is the customer’s problem you identify and your product can solve. In essence, you make the customer’s life easier.
In looking at the first meeting I scheduled when starting in sales, I had no idea why customers should meet with me. I was lucky the prospect was giving me the time to speak with him. I needed to build my value proposition. This I learned over time.
Seneca On The Shortness Of Life is a great reminder of the value of time. We tend to put more value on our money than time. As Sales Professionals, we need to think of our prospects time. Provide value to justify the time we are asking for in the early stages of the sales cycle.
Good luck and good selling!