Value is the killer app in sales. Without it, you are relegated to competing on price. Here’s why your sales force is unprepared to create value and what to do about it.

No Business Acumen: Your sales force doesn’t have the business acumen, the experience, or the situational knowledge. To succeed in sales today you have to be a bigger salesperson. Being a bigger sales person means being a better business person. It means thinking about your client’s problems through the eyes of the business owner. We use words like “trusted advisor” and ”consultative,” but we don’t prepare the salesforce to be those things. If you want real sales enablement, this is where it starts and ends.

No Differentiation: Your sales force can’t present your defining differentiators in a way that creates value in the minds of your clients. Ask a salesperson to differentiate their offering from their competitors in a way that is compelling. Most of them will tell you that they’re not very different from their competitors. They don’t believe that you’re very different from your competitors. Without defining differentiators, those differences that make a difference, it’s very difficult to demonstrate the real value in your value propositions. As a sales leader, you have to sell this differentiation all the time.

Transactional Disease: Your salespeople behave transactionally because that’s what they believe they’re supposed to do. As a leader you have to build and protect a culture. You have to share your worldview and you have to enforce it. The world outside is telling your sales people that they are only going to win on price, that you’re supposed to be Walmart. They’re being led to believe that the only value customers really perceive is lowest price. It doesn’t matter that none of this is true, and it doesn’t matter that the sales people working in your organization don’t understand the ideological inconsistency of believing this while carrying an iPhone and a new MacBook. What matters is you continually reinforce the perception of value and that you enforce the mindset that you will accept nothing less than value creation and reject all transactional beliefs and behaviors.

You Allow Discounting: Leadership and management sometimes doesn’t protect own business model by enforcing the creation of value when winning an opportunity. If you allow discounting in order to win new opportunities then you are contributing to the problem of sales people not being prepared to create value. If you do so for short term revenue at the expense of your business model, you’re breaking the business. You challenge every deal to see what value you are creating that makes you worth paying more to obtain. Or you end up not creating value, and you step onto the slippery slope to a declining profit margins.

Ultimately, the sales leaders is responsible for the results of their team. If your sales team is unprepared to create value, improve their business acumen, their ability to differentiate, enforce a value-creation mindset, and don’t contribute to the problem by discounting.


How do you learn to create more value? What experiences contribute to that outcome?

Can each person on your team easily differentiate your offering from your competitor’s? Is each member of your team part of the differentiation?

How much does the worldview that price is the only real value permeate your team’s mindset?

What do leaders do that contributes to the sales force’s lack of ability to create value for their clients?

Sales 2013
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 29, 2013
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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