I’ve got a good friend who is an executive in the office supplies business. His division sells to national accounts and he was telling me about a new client he had and a business review he was about to conduct. I (sarcastically) replied, “Wow! How much review do you need for paper clips.”
His reply was one that every salesperson and every business executive should know. He told me that when your selling the volume, his division does to large accounts, office supplies has nothing to do with it.
He talked about the technology that ensures people buy within their policy. He talked about logistics management, integration and other highly complex – value creating activities. He talked about complex pricing strategies to ensure that a) his company was price competitive and could win the business, and b) that the margins would still be sufficient to be profitable.
He told me that in the entire sales process for a $12 million dollar account the topic of office “products” never comes up.
I have another client who is about to land their single largest piece of business ever. We worked closely with them in designing their sales strategy for this opportunity and after the client asked to “skip the letter of intent stage, let’s just go to contract,” their CEO commented to me that they never even looked at the product that was being offered. I replied, “That’s because the product isn’t really important.”
Remember it’s the results that are important. So:
- Stop talking about the product, and
- Start focusing on the process you have to support the results you promise