StrategyDriven Professional Development Best Practice

Professional Development Best Practice 4 – Avoid Commoditization

StrategyDriven Professionals are exceptional assets to any organization. These individuals are highly motivated and dedicated to achieving their goals. As such, they pursue a path of continuous growth and improvement; obtaining experiences, knowledge, and skills that, while others may have, few will possess in equal abundance or combination. Thus, these professionals are also commodities.


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Jeffrey Gitomer

Value is the King of Sales, and the Queen of Service.

Value is perhaps the most illusive word in sales.

Everyone will tell you how important it is, very few can tell you what it is. I’ve already gone on ad nauseam about my distaste for the words ‘added value.’

I recommend you leave them out of your sales lexicon forever.  ‘Added value’ has an evil twin:  ‘value add.’ Neither of which can be defined in terms of what the customer actually benefits or profits from.

Added value is usually some minor service or hard-to-define extra that the customer already expects, or takes for granted anyway. Things like: same-day shipping, or online ordering, or parts in stock, 24-hour service – those are not VALUE – those are A GIVEN. Those elements are expected. They are NOT incentive to buy – rather they’re just part of your business offering.

In order for you to understand the word ‘value’ as it relates to your ability to making a sale, put the word “perceived” in front of it.  If you think it’s valuable, and your customer doesn’t perceive it to be valuable, it ain’t value.

Your customer is looking to increase THEIR sales, THEIR customer loyalty, THEIR employee loyalty, THEIR productivity, THEIR morale, THEIR profit, and to have no problems.

Are those the values you bring to the table? No? Why not? Those are the value elements that any customer would consider worthy of the word. Your little add-on services are more of a bonus than a value.

And don’t just bring them one time – consistency is the key. My secret for delivering weekly value to my customers is this column. And throw in my weekly ezine, Sales Caffeine on top of that. Two weekly value messages. Throw in four tweets a day, that’s 22 value messages a week. Add LinkedIn, blog, Facebook, and a YouTube video, and it’s a value firestorm.

The value is missing from the MISSION. Most companies have a meaningless mission statement that was created by a marketing department. It’s all about being number one, exceeding customer expectations, and building shareholder value. Barf.

What’s your real mission? Is it different from your mission statement?

Where’s the value to the customer? Isn’t that the real mission?

What you need is a value proposition and a value statement that explains fully how you help others, how they win, how you serve in terms of the customer, and how that leads to loyal customers and referrals. And a mission statement that matches it.

A value proposition states what you do in terms of how a customer benefits. For example: You might say, ‘we provide 4-hour service response.’ A ‘value proposition’ way of stating the same thing is, ‘when equipment is broken or needs repair, production stops. That’s why we instituted 4-hour or less service response. That way there is minimal loss of productivity and job profitability.’

Same words, stated in terms of how the customer wins.

Value is important to a prospective customer for three reasons:

  1. It differentiates you from the competition.
  2. It gives the customer understandable reasons to purchase.
  3. It gives the customer the peace of mind they need to move forward. To buy.

Value is important to an existing customer for three reasons:

  1. It builds real relationship. One based on value.
  2. It makes reorders more automatic and less bid driven.
  3. It eliminates competition. Most competitors thrive on “saving a customer money.” NOTE: Customers don’t want to save money as much as they want to produce more and make more profit.

At the end of any sales transaction, or when an existing customer has a need, that’s when ‘perception of value’ plays its heaviest role. If the customer perceives a difference in you, and perceives a reassuring value in terms of how he wins, the sale is yours. If not, the sale goes to the person with the lowest price.

Lowest price always means lowest profit.

The more you become proficient at stating value in terms of the customer, the more it will be perceived as value by the customer.  The more you put value in terms of how they win, how they profit, and how they produce, the more it will be perceived as true value, or real value.  And in the end, the value that you receive back will be the order.  That’s value.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

Sharon Drew Morgen

Change management and sales: influencing the buying decision path

Buyers want to solve a problem in a way that causes the least disruption, and the last thing they want to do is bring something new into their environment. But until the stakeholders (decision makers, influencers, appropriate managers) agree that making a purchase is the only way to get where they want to end up, and all of the people that will touch the new solution buy-in to altering the status quo (their policies, relationships, rules, past decisions, job descriptions, etc), they will not make a purchase or a change: they will continue the dysfunctional behavior even when an ideal solution is right in front of them.

While you might see your solution as offering a better alternative to what they are doing now, buyers have systemic issues to handle when they bring in something new. Making a purchase, or doing something different, means

  • some sort of change management to ensure that the new and the old work together
  • helping folks who touch the current practices be willing and able to change.
  • understanding and diminishing any fallout that will ensue.

Bringing in something new into an existent system – whether it’s a purchase or an implementation – is a change management problem.

A Buying Decision Is A Change Management Problem

Sales, marketing automation, and the new telemarketing field, ignore the change management aspect of what buyers must accomplish and instead focus on figuring out how and what and to whom to pitch their solution. Let me back track a bit. Givens:

  1. sales manages the needs assessment and solution placement portion of the buyer’s decision.
  2. neither sales nor marketing go behind-the-scenes, into the environment/culture in which the buyer lives, to help facilitate the non-solution-focused internal political or relational issues buyers must address to get the necessary buy-in and make the necessary adjustments to their culture that change demands.
  3. buyers don’t know their route through change when they begin to think about resolving a problem.
  4. the time it takes buyers to get the appropriate buy-in from all who will touch the solution is the length of the sales/change cycle. Until they figure this entire process out, they cannot buy. This is considered the pre-sales process.

These are the issues we come smack up against as sales folks: we try to push a solution into a group that haven’t progressed through their entire change management path and get objections and time delays as buyers figure it out. And we are so dedicated to finding ways to present our solution that we are blind to the buyers needs to manage change. I often ask my own clients where their prospects are in their change path at the point and initially they want to pitch and they have no idea.

A Solution Can’t Compromise The Status Quo

Buyers have 13 steps they must take from first idea to making a purchase. Sales enters and manages steps 10-13. Steps 1-9 are the pre-sales process that focuses on change and determining if a purchses is necessary: assembling the right people, understanding the effects that solving a problem will produce, getting buy-in for a course of action – and then, determining if/what/why they want to buy. Unfortunately, as outsiders we can never understand what’s going on – nor do we need to. We just need to help them do it themselves. When we enter too early for them, we potentially speak to the wrong person/people, at the wrong time – and then we sit and wait while they figure it out. We are holding a hammer, waiting for the time when they are ready with a nail. But this is a much more efficient way to do this.

I actually developed a pre-sales model that facilitates a buyer’s change management process call Buying Facilitation®. Although not a sales model, it works with sales but employs a wholly different skill set that actually shows buyers how to manage the systemic change they will face when purchasing a solution or bringing something new in to their status quo. It not only teaches buyers how to get the requisite buy-in so their daily functioning won’t be compromised – managing the people, policies, technology, and old vendor, etc. issues – but shows them how to pro-actively manage the change that will happen once the new solution is on board. After using Buying Facilitaiton® then it’s time to use the sales behaviors you’ve grown accustomed to. I’m not taking away sales; I’m just employing it at the right time.

If the tech guy doesn’t want to outsource work; if the sales and marketing folks are not talking to each other; if the “C” level person has a favored vendor from 3 years ago; if there is already something in place that cost a bundle and the buyer merely wants to tack on yet another fix – if anything political or relational is going on internally that would compromise the system, the buyer will not buy: they will not buy if the system itself would be at risk.

Let’s teach buyers first how to buy – how to manage their change so they are ready for you to sell and place your solution.


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a visionary, original thinker, and thought leader in change management and decision facilitation. She works as a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant, and has authored 9 books including the NYTimes Business BestsellerSelling with Integrity. Morgen developed the Buying Facilitation® method (www.sharondrewmorgen.com) in 1985 to facilitate change decisions, notably to help buyers buy and help leaders and coaches affect permanent change. Her newest book What? www.didihearyou.com explains how to close the gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She can be reached at [email protected]

StrategyDriven Professional Development Best Practice

Professional Development Best Practice 3 – Acquiring Experience Beyond that of Your Position

The StrategyDriven Professional recognizes that a critical combination of knowledge, skill, and experience is needed to ascend into positions of increasing authority and responsibility. Acquiring the prerequisite experiences, however, can be extremely difficult. While many organizations’ succession plan deliberately guides candidates to positions providing the needed experiences sought, these programs are often limited to senior executives and managers. Consequently, individuals with high potential residing lower within the organization or those not having been favored by inclusion within the program may find themselves lacking the immediately apparent means of acquiring the experiences needed to achieve their career goals. Thus, it is important for these individuals to find alternative ways of gaining the critical experiences necessary to achieve their goals.


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Jeffrey Gitomer

It’s been a long time coming – A new way to change change!

Change is coming.

Got fear or joy? Got worry or positive anticipation?

Putting your head in the sand, or headed to the beach to relax and plan?

When you feel or fear that some form of change is coming, you have to define it in your mind as opportunity. Clear your head for “what will be” tomorrow, and not worry about “what is” today.

The way this is done is through a combination of faith and belief. These are very similar emotional attributes. And many of you reading this, have already misinterpreted them. I’m not talking about praying, I’m talking about planning.

Faith and belief in yourself.

Belief that you have the capability to withstand any circumstance and emerge both better and victorious.  And faith that whatever happens or is happening, happens for some reason and that reason is to benefit you, not harm you.

The prime questions to face are:

Do you believe in yourself?
Do you have faith in yourself?
Do you believe that you can create ideas that will make you better based on present circumstance?

One key action that will help you more than any other is to collaborate rather than commiserate.  Commiseration takes you backwards.  You may have heard it defined as a pity party. I define it as group whining that usually results in group blaming.

  • Collaboration is about tomorrow, and what can be done, and what needs to be done in order to create an amazing new outcome.
  • Collaboration requires a gathering of smart people with positive attitudes and positive outlooks.

Here’s what to do:

  • Make a list of your ten best attributes
  • Make a list of your ten best assets.
  • See how many of the same assets and attributes are on that list.
  • Make a list of your ten most positive connections, acquaintances, or friends.
  • Make a list of your ten most intelligent connections, acquaintances, or friends.
  • See how many of the same people are on that list.

Assemble a small group of people in a very short space of time and create an agenda for discussion that you pre-send so that people have some time to think about it. It can be both about you and about it (whatever the changing circumstance is).

Have the meeting in a positive place, and have all kinds of food on the table when people get there so that the atmosphere is both bright and festive.

Have a recording device and a flip chart in the meeting so that all thoughts and ideas are captured. Before everyone leaves, list the top ten action items or ideas to be implemented, and who owns them. And then thank everyone by giving them a book on creativity (see my recommended books here), a firm handshake, a smile, a hug, and a genuine, heartfelt thank you.

The results of this meeting will not only move you forward (see my article on change forward), but will also create a mindset that will move you away from the fear, doubt, worry, and uncertainty that pending change often creates.

REALITY: There are millions of words written on change. Very few of them only look for the positive. Very few of them mention the word “opportunity,” much less “positive collaboration.”

REALITY: When a significant event is about to occur that can alter both career path and income, the more time you spend moving forward by creating ideas and taking action, the less time you will have to dwell on the circumstance and fall into the pit of self-pity.

REALITY: Rather than go to the bookstore and buy a three hundred page book on change, take these seven hundred and fifty words, put them into action, change your outlook, keep your attitude positive, create ideas, take new actions, and generate results for yourself based on future.

NOTE WELL: This is a time to inspire yourself on a daily, even hourly basis. This might include a visit to an art museum, re-reading positive passages from books in your attitude library, listening to messages that inspire your thinking and give you new resolve and even new purpose, and surrounding yourself with the love of family and the love of friends that will encourage you to move on and move up.

THE SECRET: The secret key is to take responsibility to make this happen for yourself. You cannot dwell on ‘why.’ You are responsible for yourself FIRST.

You must focus on ‘now’ and ‘next.’
You cannot dwell on ‘woe.’
You must focus on ‘win.’

Change that.

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.


About the Author

Jeffrey GitomerJeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].