Value Selling Success Stories


In a recent blog post, I talked about Selling Value to Existing Customers.

Selling to existing customers is fundamental to our businesses. Yet we often have pressure on those renewals either by a lack of understood value, budgetary pressures, or replacement efforts by competitors. Sometimes it’s one of the oldest plays in the sourcing/procurement book, to bait our competitors with the opportunity to “replace our incumbent if you get aggressive and really sharpen your pencil, etc., etc.” Or some combination of the above.

Sellers end up with customer churn, unnecessary
discounts and more.

But, if you communicate the “Value Realized” by customers, you have a fighting chance.

The Story

A DecisionLink customer had just such a situation with an existing client. It wasn’t just any client, it was a blue-chip company headquartered in the same city. Whether a ploy or not, the Champion at the client told them, “We’ve got significant budget pressure and one of your competitors has offered to replace you with a 50% price reduction”. Please help me!!!

Other than the Champion asking for help, that’s certainly not what any of us want to hear.

 Focus on Value Realization

This threat was significant, a competitive loss in their hometown would be a disaster. The “upside” at this point was to meet or get close to the competitive price, knocking a 250K renewal down to 125K or so. Not good!

Our customer offered a “value assessment” which was quickly agreed. In the assessment, we determined the following (with agreement by the Champion):

  • The client achieved over $1.25M in cost savings in the prior 12 months.
  • Of that amount, almost $375K was competitively differentiated, that is, the $125K saved in subscription would equal $250K lost after netting out.
  • They identified additional areas of value their client had not yet achieved, and put a plan in place to realize that value.
  • They identified over $500K in additional value their client could achieve by upgrading to their premium offering (additional $155K subscription).

Reactions from the Prospect & The End Game

The champion was relieved, but also was able to make his case within the client organization which resulted in organizational esteem. Our customer gained valuable competitive insights they previously didn’t have. Best of all, our customer renewed the client at $405K (a 60% uplift over the projected renewal), established a framework of value with their client and sent the competitor packing.

One More Take-Away

Our customers like us, after all, they chose to do business with us. But how often does a seller treat a customer this way, helping them quantify, articulate and defend the choices and investments they made? Not often. Imagine the reference calls praising service and value after the sale, and the Net-Promoter scores that go along with that.

BTW, once again, these principles are not that different for selling a new prospect. That is what BUYERS want, and what CUSTOMERS also want. What is the value to ME?

Stay tuned for a blog about multiple customer/prospect personas. When we use the same conversation for Execs, LOB managers and evaluators, why are we surprised with some (or all) of them don’t connect so well!



The Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Selling Value to Existing Customers

Nxt Generation ROIThe Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Selling Value to Existing Customers

Last post we discussed the 3 ways new opportunities get started:

1. Seller helps prospect identify need
2. Prospect identifies need on their own
3. Competition helps prospect identify need and how a Nxt-Gen ROI
system impacted all 3 in a material way.

Today the conversation is about your existing customers, specifically, keeping your customers, protecting margins, fending off competition and promoting cross-sell/up-sell.

Achieving those is the penultimate achievement of CUSTOMER CARE.

Imagine for your existing customers a scenario like this…6 months prior to a renewal, your company offers a complementary “health check-up” service. It’s short and sweet, you interview the customer staff and:

  • Identify (and measure) areas of success,
  • Identify areas that need improvement,
  • Identify potential competitive threats, and
  • Identify areas of new opportunity.

Several months before your renewal, you’ve done all of the above and provide the customer an assessment a few weeks later that lays the groundwork for your renewal.

What customer doesn’t want this kind of service from their vendors? Yet it is rarely provided. Simply put, your NxtGen-ROI system MUST facilitate this capability for your organization so that is standard practice, a part of your customer engagement DNA.

Outcomes? Lower churn rates, improved margins, and up-sell/cross-sell for more revenue.

It’s not theoretical, check out this week’s Value Selling Success Story for a prime example.

Ensuring your organization has a Nxt-Gen ROI capability unlocks the potential for all 4 ways that sales opportunities get started.





Value Selling Success Stories


In a recent blog post, I talked about the 3 ways we get into new opportunities.

Nobody wants to be CANNON FODDER, you know, brought in late to round out the short-list, get a check in the box for looking at alternatives, etc., etc.

Conventional wisdom sometimes is to not even respond to unsolicited RFP’s and the like. But if you can change the conversation, you can win the deal.

The Story

We were invited to present to a new prospect for an opportunity that would be mid-to-high 6 figures in value. We had never called on them before and the CIO told me “you have 2 hours, we’re making a decision in 30 days”. Red flags went off all over the place as these decisions were usually made in 9-12 months. I was a new manager and had a pretty good rep on the account, but there wouldn’t be any relationship building or such, we had to do something radical and disruptive. It’s a fundamental selling move, one that saves a lot of time that would otherwise be wasted, and wins deals.

The Prospect

The Clerk of the Circuit Court contains the administrative/operational organization for Hillsborough County (Tampa), Florida. They were making a massive decision for their IT applications and data infrastructure. Years earlier, the 13 Judicial Court (also in Tampa) selected and implemented our primary competitor and the two organizations had been collaborating for over a year. They couldn’t get a sole-source exemption, thus cannon fodder was invited.

Changing the Conversation

90% of the time these are technology feature-fests that we were sure to lose. In the words of Snuffy Smith, we had not time to waste on that.

We did our research (not that hard) and found out that a critical application had to be delivered in a couple of years…a set of political promises. We also knew that we had a distinct advantage in “time to delivery” over our competitor, and could demonstrate that advantage.

To change the conversation, we used our 2-hour slot to do the following:

  • 15 minute overview on our solution, highlighting distinguishing capabilities
  • 20 minutes on their application project and a pro forma project plan to deliver ahead of schedule
  • 10 minutes on the ROI (as we understood it) to the county for the application, the value of on-time, ahead of schedule and being late (there were consequences)
  • 30 minutes on our implementation plan (ensuring their project plan)
  • 45 minutes for Q&A

 We prepped well, but had a 50:50 expectation to end-up where we began, as cannon fodder.

 Reactions from the Prospect

Two hours turned into three, other people were brought into the meeting, the rep and I got invited to have lunch with the county chief operating officer. (In a previous post I stated “you get to talk to those you sound like”. We sounded like what the COO cared about.)

 The End Game

We won the recommendation. We also got requirements added that blocked our competitor’s effort to protest the award. This ultimately became a competitive “go to” customer and our gateway to several other county orgs in the state. We got a more than fair price also as our competitor set premium $$$ expectations thinking they had no competition.


Changing the Conversation is not always easy, but it’s not that hard either, and it always works. Sometimes you get the prospect’s attention and have a fair competitive landscape, or one that’s tilted in your favor. Sometimes you don’t, but you get the heck out early and fast and spend your valuable time and resources on winnable opportunities. Sales experts like Dave Brock call this “relentless disqualification”.

In any event, from a selling perspective you get to the best possible position.

BTW, these principles are not that different for “Compete for a Deal” and “Start a Deal”. Make the conversation about the customer and what they need to achieve, distinguish yourself from the competition, quantify the economic impact and show them how you’ll get them to the objective.


That is what BUYERS want. Stay tuned for blog about multiple customer/prospect personas. When we use the same conversation for Execs, LOB managers and evaluators, why are we surprised with some (or all) of them don’t connect so well!

Getting And Keeping Executive Access

Value Added MethodologiesGetting And Keeping Executive Access

No matter your sales methodology (whether one of the well known ones or one you built yourselves, or if you have one at all), getting and keeping the interest of the (pick your naming nomenclature) Executive Decision Maker and/or Economic Buyer is a key expectation.

To do so WHO – WHAT – WHEN – WHERE – WHY – HOW are essential:

Who they are?
What they care about?
When and Where they are involved?
Why and How they are involved?

The following chart is excepted from “Selling to the C-Suite”, one of the best reads available on the subject of executive selling*:

In a nutshell,

  • Sales Cycle A is where the prospect identifies the need
  • Sales Cycle B is where the competition helps the prospect identify the need
  • Sales Cycle C is where I, the seller help the prospect identify the need

See Three Ways an Opportunity Starts for more information.

If we, as sellers, play by the normal rules, don’t change this dynamic, we will rarely get to the key part of the
executive selling dynamic.  But it can be changed, no matter whether Sales Cycle A, B or C, and when we do,
we get an extra point of connection with the Economic Buyer.

So the starting point is to know and understand WHEN the Economic Buyer/Executive is involved, next we’ll talk about WHAT they care about, along with WHY and HOW.

And HOW for us as sellers to do something about it. Finally, a really good watch word to think about:

“Sellers get to talk to who they sound like.”

WHAT, WHY AND HOW depend on this, and none of this matters without getting this right.

My opinion on this book being one of the best, and here’s why.
“Selling to the C-Suite” is based on research with several hundred
C-level executives. Why they want to talk to the right sales reps,
what they care about and want in those conversations.


The Heart of a Nxt-Gen ROI System – Outside-In Analysis

Nxt Generation ROIThe Heart of a NXT-GEN™ ROI System – Outside-In Analysis
Supporting all Three Ways You Get Into a New Opportunity

How do our sales opportunities get started? Fundamentally there are four ways:

1.  Seller helps prospect identify need
2.  Prospect identifies need on their own
3.  Competition helps prospect identify need
4.  Existing customer is buying more

SAP is one of the best in the world at this (and with 500 specialists in their value organization, they should be). Supporting the beginning of a sales engagement is a staple for them, as it is for every sales methodology. Whether calling it outside-in analysis, Door Opener, hypothesis, Challenger, provocative, etc., it’s critical to be personalized and specific to the prospect, and differentiated with respect to competition.

Traditional ROI approaches yield little capability for initial engagement, or don’t support it at all. A NxtGen ROI™ needs to support all 4. In today’s post, I’m going to deal with new sales, numbers 1, 2 and 3. Next post, I’ll address number 4.

Whichever of the three, the “initial point of sales engagement” is critical to establishing a competitively powerful position in the prospect account. See chart below:

The old adage “you only get one chance to make a first impression” couldn’t be truer or more DecisionLink.comapplicable than in our world of selling. A NxtGen ROI™ will ensure your best chance to make a great first impression…every time.

No Better Way To Impact Financial Performance…Sales Effectiveness + Value Selling

No Better Way To Impact Financial Performance…Sales Effectiveness + Value Selling

CSO Insights published a Sales Effectiveness eBook identifying some 30 technologies to consider for companies that want to impact Sales Effectiveness in a meaningful way. They categorized the technologies in four logical groups:

1 –  Find More
2 –  Win More
3 –  Keep and Grow More
4 –  Manage More
Most are well-known and easily recognized disciplines summarized in the following chart:

                                             VALUE SELLING: IMPACT ON SALES EFFECTIVENESS

This is super-relevant for the Executive Suite and 
Board of Directors because there is no more significant way to impact an organization’s financial performance than by improving Sales Effectiveness. And there is no more significant way to impact Sales Effectiveness than by “Value Selling”.  

While this list represents the 30 or so areas of Sales Effectiveness opportunity, the items with a check mark are directly impacted by the ability to consistently Sell Value. More specifically, the ability to Quantify, Articulate, Competitively Differentiate and Defend the value of the seller’s products, solutions and services.

DecisionLink.comIf that is true, then clearly it is an imperative to Sell Value all the time.

One company put it this way, “We invested in the best of the best to enable our sales organization. Salesforce for CRM, Corporate Visions for messaging, Challenger for sales methodology and much more. But it was when we got value selling right that the efforts at sales effectiveness started really bearing fruit. Value Selling is the glue that pulled it all together and made our sales effectiveness efforts really work.”

Over the next several weeks, we will examine many of these technologies and discuss the ramifications and implications of Selling Value on each.


Have Our “Value” Sales Cake, And Eat It Too.

Value Selling Success StoriesNormally when we think of business cases, customer value, ROI/TCO and the like, we think of the biggest deals, seasoned sales reps, availability of expert Business Value Consultant resources, lots of time spent in deep financial weeds, etc.

We don’t often think of small to medium-sized deals, less experienced sales reps, times when expert BVC resources are not available (most of the time), early stage conversations and business level simplicity that most of us understand…the kind buyers want.

In a perfect world, we would be able to have it both ways. Have our value cake, and eat it too. There’s no reason not to, and everybody wins when we do. That’s what this story is about.


The Story

So this story is about my personal journey, what got me started. While I ultimately built sales organizations of several hundred reps and 100’s of millions in revenue, I was a greenhorn rep in the hills of NE Tennessee when I experienced what is now called Challenger Selling, Command of the Message, Hypothesis Selling, Crossing the Chasm or whatever flavor you like.

The Prospect

ITT North TSD in Gray, Tennessee was getting ready to make a multi-million dollar, unbudgeted purchase of a new IBM mainframe computer. It was 18 months ahead of their lease expiration, so they were going to pay dearly in a new capital expense as well as writing off a previous generation computer. The tech dudes were all excited about the new, shiny computer, as was the IBM regional team.

Turns out, company management wasn’t so thrilled.

Turning to ADR

I happened to have a solution in my bag that would extend the life of the existing computer system and eliminate the negative financial impact on the business unit and corporate division.

As green as I was, I executed a play (that SAP today calls a ‘Door Opener’), and got their attention about my company and solutions.

Reactions from the Prospect

“You get to talk to those who you sound like.” Frankly, it wasn’t that hard. I validated my hypothesis, crafted a Door Opener message, practiced delivering it 100 times, and wedged into a conversation. After we executed a successful “Proof of Value*”, I was talking to the plant General Manager and his SVP instead of the techies we were usually shuttled to.

The End Game

When our ASP was about $30K, I closed a deal over 10x the ASP, about 50% of my annual quota. The guy who bought into the Door Opener got promoted. I was a trusted resource to the executives. The IBM’ers were…unhappy. I was a green kid, but it began business alignment, quantification of the economic impact and simple communication with those impacted.

Fast Forward

DecisionLink.comWith a Nxt-Gen ROI system, sales reps are enabled with powerful Door Openers for every sales engagement, and ultimately deliver professional Business Value Assessments to support every deal. Great initial conversations turn into bona-fide opportunities and winnable deals.

To read the full story, including tributes to Marty Goetz (the true founder of the software industry) and Joe Allegra (Edison Ventures General Partner and the product manager for the solution that made this deal a reality), check out

*  Notice I said Proof of Value, not Proof of Concept. The difference is enormous, and is subject for another day.