Monday, August 17, 2015

The First Law of Business Value Discovery

Twenty-five years ago, a bunch of Sales Engineers sat in a bar (this sounds like a joke..) and came up with a number of rules and principles to guide them through the Business Discovery Process. Over the years I’ve added to and refined that list and it now forms part of our Business Value Discovery (BVD) workshops. Of course – the most important of all these rules is the First Law – and that’s the one I want to take you through.

It’s not anything like “ask open-ended questions” or “challenge the customer” or “link your technology to the business” as they deal with the how of BVD, instead it focuses, just as you should, on the customer outcome, or the what and why. The long version is:
“Every technology purchase is driven by a single business number. Either that number is too small and someone want to make it larger, or it’s too large and someone wants to make it smaller.”

The key to being a world-class Sales Engineer is uncovering

(a)    What is that number?
(b)   Who cares about the number?
(c)    Does it need to be made larger or smaller?
(d)   What’s the economic value to the customer of that change?
(e)   Is it important to change that number NOW?

Think about some of these situations. A number may be too large and needs to be reduced.

1.       Cost Of Goods Sold
2.       Response Time
3.       Online Shopping Cart Abandonment Rate
4.       Backup Time
5.       Personnel
Or a number may be too small and need to be increased.

1.       Market Share
2.       Success Rate
3.       Upsell Ratio
4.       Gross Profit
5.       Employees With A Specific Skill Set
Here’s the call to action. Think about the last dozen sales transactions you have been involved with – either as a sales rep, presales engineer or services person. What was your customer’s number? How early in the sales process did you uncover it? Is there any common theme across your customer base?

Understanding and then satisfying the First Law Of Business Value Discovery allows you to focus on outcomes and results instead of features and functions. First things first!!
(Note to true engineers: Yes - I know I conflated law, rule and principle)