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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Creativity in Sales Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on June 25, 2021. It featured Sales Value Expert Shawn Casemore.]
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SHAWN’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “When you think about value, think about it in the form of a pyramid. There’s five different levels of value that we can share with any buyer. Information value simplifies the research, value that helps them determine what they need to determine. Fundamental value is really value itself that ultimately satisfies the basic expectations that the buyers have. There’s unique value, that’s value that sets you apart from the competition. There’s individual value which is the value that satisfies the individual that you’re dealing with so you have to pose some questions and be able to understand what they value in order to respond to that and offer that kind of value. Then there’s monetary value which is about the return on investment.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: It’s the Creativity in Sales webinar, we’ve got a great show today. We’ve got Shawn Casemore, the topic, four ways to add value to your buyer when you can’t see them in person. Shawn, obviously that’s a problem because a lot of people are still not able to see their customer.
Shawn, it’s great to see you here. This is an important topic. We’re doing today’s show at the end of June, we’ve been in this lockdown-ish more for 16 months now. We’re not in lockdown anymore although, actually, where you are up in Canada, I had a conversation last week with a VP of sales who’s in Winnipeg and she said that they are in lockdown for the most part.
We base our show out of Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC and a lot of people have been vaccinated, it doesn’t look like anything’s even going on here. But still, in places like Europe and of course, Asia, even Canada and the United States, you’re not seeing your customers yet. You need to figure out ways to show them value when you can’t see them.
It’s great to see how, how are you doing?
Shawn Casemore: Good, good. I appreciate being here today.
Fred Diamond: All right, let’s get to it. Value. Our frequent listeners know that since we’ve been doing this since March of 2020, a lot of common words keep coming up. Value is one, we’ve been saying for a long time ‘extreme value’ because if you’re not demonstrating value, the customer doesn’t need you. Let’s see what you’ve got to tell us.
Shawn Casemore: To get started, I want to welcome everybody here today and we will talk about that word, value, in a second. But I wanted to start with this because I think it’s a great example of value and it just happened last weekend. My wife and I, we do a little bit of camping. We actually decided we’re going to upgrade our trailer, the one we have has tent ends which makes it very cold in the cooler months and hot in the summer months.
We decided to research, look around, ended up getting a referral from somebody to an organization. Long story short, we ended up finding online – as most do, we’ll talk about this in a second – the trailer that we thought we liked. There were a couple options and a little bit of a price difference.
Reached out to somebody there, never met them, never even saw them, never even saw the trailer. Started to dialogue and the guy’s name was Josh. Immediately, he’s like, “How would you prefer to communicate? Text, email, call, what’s your preference?” I said, “Well, my preference is email for now.”
We ended up going there and we are actually emerging out of lockdown. We’re able to go drive there but you can’t see anybody, you can just see the trailers themselves, you can’t really go in them, it’s a little bit restricted. But throughout the interactions with Josh, never got to meet him, but he kept adding value right from the very beginning.
What was that value? As you suggested, Fred, value in the simplest forms is in the eye of the beholder. Every customer’s different, every customer’s unique. What does that mean? What they value, there’s often some common areas of value and we’ll talk about that, but there’s also some uniqueness to each individual that they value.
I was on LinkedIn this morning and I wrote about the questions that you should be asking your current customers all the time. What do they value? What do they enjoy about working with you, your company, your products, your service? Because the answers to those questions often will inform the type of value that you want to provide future customers, future buyers.
I wanted to start here with a simple definition of value. Value is the regard that something is held to deserve the importance, worth or usefulness of something. Here’s my advice, you’re going to hear people with all sorts of definitions of value and it is really in the eye of the person that you’re trying to serve. But I think this is the key word, usefulness.
Here’s what I mean by that. I know a lot of folks that send brochures, send pamphlets, send links to their website to prospective customers or to existing customers to nurture that relationship. If they never get read, if they never get opened, if they never get clicked, is that really of value? Is it useful? The question that really underlies value is you always have to be asking yourself, is what I’m going to offer here useful to the individual on the other end?
It doesn’t matter whether you can see them or not. What’s changed during our current state and what’s happened in the last 16 months is really how our buyers perceive value, because what they needed 16 months ago might be very different than what they needed in the meantime. Because they couldn’t see us, they couldn’t touch and see our product, they couldn’t visit us, they couldn’t go see a demonstration, it’s very different. What they needed is different, therefore, what we provide in terms of value has to change but it still has to be useful.
A couple key points there and I’ll just pause for a second here. I’m just curious. When we’re talking about value, what’s your perspective on that, Fred?
Fred Diamond: The reality is we always have to show value in sales. We like to reference that the great Neil Rackham who wrote SPIN Selling said that sales is all about value creation. But what’s happened since the pandemic kicked in, and more and more even prior to the pandemic, customers can get access to information through the internet, through social networks, through their own organizations. They don’t really need salespeople who aren’t providing something that’s going to help them achieve their goal.
What happened with the pandemic is two things. One is people are focused internally. Every Wednesday, we do a Sales Game Changers Live where I bring on a sales VP and I say, what’s your priority? They say, making sure our people are taken care of. Of course, they always want to focus on customers but it’s always making sure people are taken care of.
The second thing is how are you helping your customer’s customers? If you’re not going to come to me with a solution on how you’re helping my customer’s customer, then there’s really no reason for me to talk. I don’t even need to hear how you’re doing, you don’t even have to say, “How are you?” if there’s really no value for us to engage in a conversation.
One thing we’ve seen is that for sales professionals to take their game to the next level, they really need to start two places down the path. Not just what is the customer trying to achieve, but what are they trying to achieve with their customer and their customer’s customer?
Shawn Casemore: Absolutely. I think you raised a point I want to jump on here. When you think about value then, and you’re thinking about exactly what you said, Fred. Value really must be omnipresent, what I mean by that is it’s got to be everywhere your buyers are and your name has to be all over it.
Here’s why, there was a study done last year by Gartner. They’re studying sales all the time, sales trends, they’re talking to CEOs, executives, buyers of all sorts. Here’s what they found and it’s probably of no surprise if you’re in sales. Buyers today tend to spend about 50% of their time researching, and that was split into online and offline, about 30% online and about 20% offline, give or take. But at the end of the day, they only have about 17% left to spend with any salespeople at all in this buying cycle.
If you narrow that down to the average number of sellers that they see, each salesperson gets about 6% of their buyer’s time. If we’re not focusing on adding value, we’ve got very little chance to do much in the 6% of the time. Because they spend all the time researching, which means they know what’s in the market, they know the competition, they probably know the price range, they’re set in their mind as to what this is.
In that 6% of the time that we have, we’d better have added value before, during and after and I’ll talk about how to do that. The one thing I’ll ad here as well is that a lot of folks say to me, Shawn, when you talk about buyers that are researching, that’s marketing’s job. Marketing’s job is to put out information and inform people and bring leads in.
To some extent, that’s true and of course, it’s different in every organization, every company has their own approach. But as buyers, we can’t let that get in the way. If we don’t have the ability to change up information or value that’s being added on a website, we have to find our own ways to do that.
Again, I’ll go back to my friend Josh. I asked him this, he told me the story. He went onto the company, created a little YouTube page for the company. He’s one of many salespeople, it’s not just him. He created a bunch of videos demonstrating these different trailers and then he sends those videos out to customers, walkthroughs, he’s got a little bit of personality to him which makes him stand out, dresses very well, all these little things.
But it added value because unlike other salespeople, I contacted somebody else about a trailer, they sent an email two days later, I asked a question, never heard back. Josh was sending me videos, asking me how I wanted to communicate, totally different experience. This is where, again, value is in the eye of the customer.
In this case, I told him upfront. He asked me what was important to me and I told him, we’re looking to trade, we want this feature, etc., and he walked me through. It was a constant focus of value for him and he knows that he’s got very little time to really convince the customer to buy, because he’s done so much work outside of this.
Before I jump back to you, Fred, I want to get into the meat and potatoes because we’re part way through the conversation here. I want to make sure folks walk away with exactly what we talked about which is how can I provide value when I can’t see my buyer, when I can’t meet with my buyer?
Let’s start with this. When you think about value, think about it in the form of a pyramid. There’s five different levels of value that we can share with any buyer. You’ve got the informative value, this is value that simplifies the research, value that helps them determine what they need to determine. Those examples of the videos that I talked about, and I’ll break these down with examples in a second.
There’s fundamental value, the fundamental value is really value itself that ultimately satisfies the basic expectations that the buyers have. There’s unique value, that’s value that sets you apart from the competition. There’s individual value which is the value that satisfies the individual that you’re dealing with so you have to pose some questions and be able to understand what they value in order to respond to that and offer that kind of value.
Then there’s monetary value. I’m going to pause on monetary value because I want to say something here and then I’ll come back to you, Fred, before I jump into some tangible examples of how you can do this. Monetary value, a lot of times in sales we get stuck talking about price, it’s one of the major objections, one of four that we typically run into.
But here’s the thing, most of the folks that are making the investment decision, whether they’re the person you’re dealing with or not, is thinking about the return of that investment. Again, I’ll just stick with the same example here. Josh shared with us there’s three different trailers, here’s the difference in features and benefits to each, here’s a walkthrough of each.
At the end of the day, what really mattered to us meant that we were looking at, well, we’re making a higher investment for this trailer but what’s the return? If it’s a higher investment now, will it retain that value? You have to think in terms of return of investment, not price. If somebody says to you the price is too high, you need to be prepared to respond with something that demonstrates that the investment of your product or service outweighs the competition and provides a stronger return on investment, and then of course, “Here’s why.”
That in and of itself is a level of value because people start to see that there’s monetary value. Before I go into examples, Fred, I’m just curious from your perspective about this pyramid, how have you seen this applied in your experiences? Or to see if there’s any questions from the audience.
Fred Diamond: We have a couple questions here coming in. A question comes in here from Joanne, Joanne is in Atlanta. Joanne says, “Should I be planning a communication of the value per the pyramid?” That’s an interesting question. This comes up a lot, we get a lot of suggestions about preparation. Especially now, we’re talking about this over the last year and a half, Shawn. You can’t just go into the customer and ask random questions, you need to do the homework.
You need to do all the prep work ahead of time so that you’re not wasting their time because people are still stressed. In the United States here it’s coming out, but around the rest of the world it’s still a big thing and people are still trying to figure this out. Where are we going to go forward? There was an article today on the Wall Street Journal that people are quitting, they’re not moving back, they’re just quitting their jobs because they’ve redefined their life.
Talk a little bit about preparation at these five levels and how you think about that.
Shawn Casemore: I’ll keep this fairly simple. Obviously, depending on what you’re selling, company you work for, etc., there can be variables here but essentially, what I tell folks is this. When you look at these different levels of value, then I want you separately to think about your ideal customers. Try and narrow them down to about three different groups and each group might be based on things like geography, title, age, all these factors. When you’re selling, you’re selling to an individual. There may be a group of people you’re dealing with, but there’s one person ultimately who’s going to sign that check.
At the end of the day, you want to narrow down who your ideal customers are that you’re going after and then be able to define what the levels of value are for each of those customers because it may be different. If you’re dealing with a small business as well as some larger companies, how a small business owner would define value would be very different than a large organization.
Meaning that the small business owner, if you look at informative value, they don’t want to spend a lot of time on research. You might be dealing with the owner who’s swamped and busy, so you don’t want to go in there and say, “Here’s my binder of 52 pages, let me walk you through this.” You want to be able to hit it quickly, give them the information in a way that they can consume quickly, that they get it and that they understand.
Whereas in a large organization where there’s going to be committees making decisions, you do want to bring in the binders, you want to offer a virtual presentation to walk through and explain some of this. You want to answer questions, you want to see if you can talk to people offline to answer their own questions. Think about your ideal customers, break them into three segments, no more than three segments. Define them down and then ask yourself, what do they value based on each of these different categories? That ensures you’re always equipped to provide value depending on who you’re speaking to.
The only other thing I’d mention here because I find this happens a lot, when you talk about doing the work, doing the research before you connect with a buyer, that’s absolutely correct. But there shouldn’t be much you can’t do in about 20 minutes. I used to do a lot of pre-COVID, a lot of coaching on the ground driving around with people and just walking into potential customers and meeting them.
What I found is people will get so nervous, they’ll get bogged down in research, spend literally hours if not at least an hour preparing for this and then they go in and none of this is applicable anyways. You really have to be in the moment. That’s why if you do some upfront work about categorizing your ideal customers, your ideal clients, understand what value each wants, although you do a little bit of research ahead of time, you’re equipped to offer value because you’re know what each of those segments would prefer.
If you’re not sure where to get that, go to your existing customers, pick out the ideal ones in each category and ask them some questions. What do you value about working with us? What kind of information would support you if you were to go back and make this decision again? They’ll provide that insight for you.
Fred Diamond: Before you move on, the example you used about the trailer guy, I’m always amazed about this. You would think at this point in history that every sales professional who has an opportunity to speak in front of a customer will have prepared, will know what the customer’s going to be needing. One thing I would say one step further from you, I would say not just about your existing customer and your ideal customer but the company specifically. What exactly is this particular company challenged with?
One of the great things about now is that there’s so much information about their industry and regulations and things that are challenging them. We talk a lot about even getting a couple steps further into the specifics and it’s not the guy’s a hunter, I’m going to talk to you about elk season or something. It’s about the company, they’re all challenged right now with how do we get our companies on board? It’s going to be another 18 months of challenge, even though a lot of things are coming back, especially as we’re in this space.
I want to go back to one thing about that the guy you bought the trailer from. I’m still amazed when we hear from sales leaders who say that some of their people just aren’t doing the work. They’re just showing up still, even at great companies. You got to put in the work a little bit, just a little bit. Look what Josh did, he followed up and three of the other guys you called didn’t follow up. Follow up, man, just that is crazy.
Shawn Casemore: I would go a little bit deeper than that as far as doing the work. I’d say take the role seriously. If you really want to be a sales professional, you take the role seriously. That sets up the things that you need to do and you need to practice no different than an engineer. I’m not an engineer with a degree in engineering and I just, “Oh, whatever happens, happens. I’ll design this on a napkin, let’s see if it works.” That’s now how it happens.
In sales, it’s very much a people business. You have to understand people, know people. Read some psychology books. All these different things show that you take your role seriously and they’ll help you be more effective. It may not seem like it initially, it may not come quickly but it will help you be more effective. I spent years doing assessments of all kinds and now what it does when I meet somebody, I’m immediately trying to figure out their persona because then I can shift my position to try and work with that person.
Fred Diamond: We’ve been doing these webinars and converting them to Sales Game Changers podcasts. Shawn, one of the things that we learned was especially in the beginning when business totally flipped and people didn’t know what was going on. If you’re a professional, what does a professional do?
Do you learn about your customer, do you learn about the industry? Do you learn about being a better presenter? What are things that you should be doing to truly be a sales professional? I would say that is probably one of the key lessons that we’ve learned through the fact that we’re doing the webinars every single day, is what does it mean to be a professional? I agree with you, I loved the way you just said that. Sales professional, what does a professional do?
Shawn Casemore: I know people are thinking, “Okay…” but hopefully they’re thinking, “Okay, I get it, give me some examples.” I’m not going to spend a ton of time here, but I’ve included examples. Informative value, that could be customer testimonials, it could be reports, explainer videos, anything the customer would see is valuable from an information and a research standpoint.
An example I’d share with you is Costco. When you go into Costco, they give out samples and then the person giving out the sample explains to you that product, how do you like it? Here’s something unique about it. That’s informing your decision to maybe buy that product.
The next level is fundamental value. Price value, social value, high quality, longevity, stability, all these are fundamental things. Again, they can shift depending on the company and the individual you’re dealing with, but generally you can consider them fundamental.
Apple is a great example to me. I’ve been using Apple forever and if I was to switch my phone and lose the ability to air drop, it wouldn’t make any sense, there’s no value there. So Apple, for me as an Apple user, provides me value because it helps me be more productive in what I’m doing every day.
Unique value, how do we stand out with value that’s unique from the competition? This could be bonuses, rapid delivery surprise features. Casper Mattress back in the day in 2012 when they started, they did a few things right out of the gate because they’re selling mattresses. Not to offend anybody here but I don’t think there’s much else that’s that riveting, selling mattresses. So what did they do?
They offered a 90-day money back guarantee so you could sleep on the mattress for 90 days and return it. They started shipping door-to-door back before it was really popular. They created online this Insomnobot 3000, so if you’re a customer and you can’t sleep even though you have their mattress, you can go on and this Insomnobot will interact with you. Again, they’ve realized their customers find some of these things valuable and that’s how they sell into the market.
Individual value is thinking about the person or the people that you’re dealing with in the sale. You want to personalize things. When I do my forensic sales audit, it’s not necessarily to help people understand the gaps in their sales process. A lot of times it helps the people I’m dealing with sleep at night because they’re not sure what best practices are, they don’t know what the gaps are. It’s providing individual unique value.
Then there’s monetary value, of course, so it’s value for the investment. We talk a lot about return on investment and when we built a house years ago, we built two. My wife and I, we’ve been together just over 15 years now. We built two houses, the first house, the gentleman gave us a price and we were constantly surprised at all the additional features we were receiving like fancy trim, stuff that we weren’t being charged for, it was all in the price. We built the second house and although it was just as good a house, everything was an upcharge. There was more value in that first interaction.
Lastly, unexpected value. Any type of bonus, even thank-you cards. Can you imagine in sales if you send everybody a personalized thank-you video on BombBomb or through email or you sent them a handwritten card? That’s surprise value. When I bought a Volkswagen years ago, in the car was a container with a shammy, and it said, “If you like your car as much as we do, we think you’ll want to take care of it. I’ve had a lot of cars, I’ve never seen that anywhere else.
If you then think about, okay, in the day-to-day interactions you’re having with people. We’ve talked about the different levels of value you need to create, we’ve given examples of what that value might look like. And we’ve talked about, if I can’t meet the person, how can I provide this? You’ll see in the last slide, this can all be provided without you ever seeing anybody.
But here’s a way to think about the value. I use what I call the Rush Value Formula. There’s required value right out of the gate when somebody, before they even talk to me, there should be value there. That could be information I’ve provided them or sent them, it could be when they reach out to the website, I’m the one that’s on the chat.
There should be unexpected value when they engage. It’s unexpected to me that if I was to contact somebody, I’d hear back from them within the hour. In many cases, that’s unexpected today, at least the people I’m talking to. Everybody’s so busy and backlog. There should be surprise value so when they decide to go ahead, what are you going to surprise them with that makes them think, “This is a fantastic experience”?
There should be high value as an ongoing customer. If I continue to purchase, a lot of times I find sales go one of two directions. They’re either beating the bushes for new opportunities constantly, which means they tend to forget about their existing customers, or they become an account manager which means they hold onto current customers which is both good and bad. Because when the customer’s not happy, they’re dealing with sales even though sales might not have anything to do with it.
You want to think as a salesperson, how can I keep my existing customers happy regardless of what position I’m in? Because they’re the fastest way to new sales and the fastest way to referrals.
Fred Diamond: We have a couple questions coming in here. Clarisse says, “How is the best way to communicate when all of my communication is over Zoom?” That comes up obviously a lot and we’re going to have the great Julie Hansen on the show in a couple of weeks talking about speaking to the dot and how to communicate.
Let’s talk about that, talk about the physicalness of communicating this value right now because we’re not in a room anymore with them, we’re not going to take them out to lunch and engage in conversations. We have 40 minutes, usually the first 8 minutes are, “Are you muted, Bill? Bill, turn off the mute” and that whole thing. Give us some of your insights into physically communicating the value right now.
Shawn Casemore: It’s really about being different, as you suggested. How can I build this value in when I can’t go see somebody? One of the tools I mentioned earlier, when I think of communicating with somebody through email which is where everybody’s going, but once I’ve got a rapport with them, I’ve talked to them, usually they’ll look for my emails. In that case, I’m using BombBomb to send video messages to them.
If they use WhatsApp, I can get on WhatsApp and it’s a fantastic tool for using audio, video, pictures, you name it. If they want a screenshot of something, I can use Loom, another great tool through email. What I found when the whole pandemic began, a lot of folks were saying, “I’m trying to prospect, I’m trying to find new customers here. I can’t go see them, what do I do?” It was these three components that I had all my clients focus on and they had huge success.
Again, depends on what you’re selling, the kind of companies you’re selling to, but number one is direct mail. Anything you can send in mail, how much mail do we get anymore? Not a lot. If you were to send some information – and don’t send a pamphlet, it’s got to be personalized, there’s got to be value in it. Send a handwritten note to say, “We’re working with company XYZ, I thought they were very similar to yourself. We’ve been able to achieve these successes with them, I wanted to send you this information and I’ll give you a call Tuesday at 9:00 to follow up to see if you have any questions.”
Send that through mail, that gets their attention so that they might actually answer the phone or watch for your email. Social media, social selling is a buzz word right now and a little bit of a caveat because most people aren’t actually selling on social, they’re using social to get the relationship started and then converting elsewhere. But social media, LinkedIn is a huge platform. How many business leaders, executives of all levels are there?
First thing I do with anybody is if I meet them, I then connect on LinkedIn because I find people will actually engage more on messages on LinkedIn than they will through email and answering their phone. Don’t be scared to connect with somebody, get an InMail out to them, send them a message and try and connect that way. Again, add value. Can you send them something of interest? Because you can also send videos through LinkedIn.
Lastly, the telephone. I know a lot of folks today don’t like the telephone, and it’s not about cold calling but here’s my approach with clients and it’s worked very well. If you are reverting to sending email, the way to get them to read, open and look for your email is to call. Chances are 90% chance you’re leaving a voicemail, but the message, just something simple, “Hey, it’s Shawn calling, I wanted to reach out for XYZ reasons. I was going to send you an email but I wanted to make sure you knew there was a real person behind this.”
Then in the email you just reference that message and you tell them a follow-up date and you go from there. It gets them to look for the email. If you want to break through these barriers when you can’t see them in order to deliver value, these are the three areas that my clients have found huge success in during the last 16 months. As you suggested, times aren’t really changing much. A lot of companies are going to keep these policies in place where you can’t have strangers walking in the building, which is going to make it a challenge for all of us.
Fred Diamond: Shawn, you’ve given us so many great ideas. We brought up some words that we talk about a lot, preparation, value comes up all the time. I very rarely get pitched, but every once in a while, someone wants to pitch me on their CRM or whatever it might be. I took a call last week and I said, “Sure, I’d be happy to watch.”
The guy created a Zoom and he sent me this thing and he talked for 45 minutes, didn’t ask me one question. I like to hear salespeople pitch, but I even got up from my seat at one point just to go to the kitchen or something and he kept talking, just went straight through. Then he asked me at the end, “Do you have any questions?”
The point is if you haven’t stepped up your game, ladies and gentlemen, in the last 15 months, you still have time. One of the critical things is that there’s still time for you to change your game because some people are leaving the workforce. We talked about that before, there’s an opportunity for the elite sales professionals to take their game to the next level.
Shawn, you were recommended to us by a couple of our members so it was great to have you on today’s Sales Game Changers podcast and the webcast. You’ve impacted tens of thousands of sales professionals in your career so I just want to acknowledge you for helping the profession get to the next level. That’s something that you’ve been very committed to. As we end every Sales Game Changers podcast, we ask you for your action item. You’ve given us 30 great ideas, give us one specific action step our listeners should implement today to take their sales career to the next level.
Shawn Casemore: Define what it would mean to be a professional in sales and take the next step to up your game.
Fred Diamond: Shawn Casemore, thank you so much for the great content. Everybody else, have a great day and a great weekend.
Shawn Casemore: Thanks, everybody.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo