Values - the key to discovering what really motivates your champion
If you look at the difference between top sales performers and average performers, you will find that average salespeople tend to pitch the benefits of their solution without taking the time to ask their client what is most important to them. Top sales performers are different. They ask questions first, then present their solution as a match for what their potential champion really wants or values.
Research carried out by the world’s leading behavioural scientists – such as Bertrand Russell in the last century or Robert Dilts in this century – has shown that values motivate us to take action.
‘Values’ means the importance we place on something or some action. If we consider something important, or of value, then we tend to do it. If we don’t consider it important, then we tend not to do it. For example, you may have a beautiful car that has a traditional combustion engine, but if you decide that you now value the environment more than the type of car you drive, then you are very unlikely to use it anymore; you will probably buy an electric one.
Knowing your client’s values is therefore vital if you want to develop them as a champion. Their values help them to decide which solution to select and which people to work with.
So, how can we discover our clients’ values? Fortunately, eliciting someone’s values is very easy. You just need to ask the simple but incredibly powerful question, ‘What’s important to you about X?’ ‘X’ can be anything relevant to the deal. This includes what’s important to your client about the solution, but you must also find out what’s important to them about the people side. This means asking what’s important to them about the vendor that will supply the product or solution. What do they value in a business relationship? What’s important to them about the culture of the companies they deal with? What’s important to them about how the project will be run?
Finding out your client’s values – those that are relevant to the solution you are providing – is the key to building them as a champion. Once you have a list of their values, you should filter the list down to find their most important values. The key word here is ‘most’. What’s most important to them about the product – and what’s most important to them about the people or company who will be supplying it? When you know their most important values, you are in a great place to position your solution as the best match for them.
But there is one other thing to find out before you can make the match, and that is why these are their most important values. If you know why a particular value is important to them, you discover the emotion behind their values, and emotions are crucial to being selected: people tend to buy on emotion and justify their decision using logic. For example, a few years ago I was selling a system to one of the largest food retailers in the USA. Our system helped to optimise scheduling in their stores. When I asked Albi, the champion I was nurturing, what was most important to him about the project, he told me that it had to be live and ready before their peak season, which was nine months away.
I then asked him the ‘why’ question. ‘Albi,’ I said, ‘I’m curious. Why is getting it delivered before peak so important? I mean, I understand peak trading, but in theory you could wait until after peak to ensure you get it right. Is there a reason why this is so important to you?’
He came back to me straight away. ‘Yes, because I don’t want to get fired.’
‘Now we’re talking,’ I thought. This was Albi’s emotional motivation. He didn’t want to get fired. Maybe he had promised his boss he would have the system up and running by peak; maybe he had other issues that our solution could help with. It was clear from his words and his body language that he was determined to get the new system in by the peak season. Going forward, I made sure that while I always pointed out how wonderful our product was, and how suitable it was for Albi’s company, he knew that choosing us would be the best choice to save his career. A few months later, his company did sign with us – and I’m pleased to say that the project was launched on time. Soon afterwards, Albi was promoted to a senior role at the company’s HQ.
In the MEDDIC world, a client’s selection criteria are their needs or logical reasons for buying a solution, but their final decision is often based on emotion. Asking your champion what is most important to them about the overall solution, as opposed to what they need, will uncover this emotion and give you a crucial edge over your competitors.
So, remember to always ask the golden question, ‘What’s most important to you?’, and you will find out your champion’s values. Then find out why those values are important to them, and you will know what really motivates them.