How often do we find ourselves either pressured during a sales cycle with a prospect to deepen discounts as a vein attempt to capture business? Have you heard a client say, “We would have signed if the price was lower” or worse yet, one of our own sales colleagues suggesting a proactive discount or rebate for fear of losing the order?
In my experience customer price objections are really only smoke screens for another, deeper and more endemic problem surrounding their perception of value. In order words, if customers were overwhelmed with perceived value in our services and products offered, demands for discounts would never arise and indeed there’s be a willingness to even pay premium prices for the privilege of doing business with us.
Accepting this point, even just for a moment as fact, let’s dig a little deeper and raise a question. How do we as sellers understand what our prospects and customers find most valuable, in order to either maximize or reinforce these aspects of the customer relationship? It would truly a crime to assume we know what’s most important based on anything other than taking the time to understand the customer’s journey with us in terms of each and every interaction touch point, and in doing so, measure each from crucial perspectives importance and satisfaction, understanding that crucial “moments of truth” gaps will emerge.
Compounding our understanding of the customer journey and moments of truth by recognizing which touch points need to be merely functional and deliver sufficient experiences without dissatisfiers and which need to truly delight, we are able to prioritize the elements of the customer’s full lifecycle and prioritize transformational efforts based upon clear measurements and qualitative investigation.
How about when erosive discounts come from our own teammates? Pricing levers are often the easiest for a naive salesperson to pull when grasping for a sale in the often misguided belief that by price cutting he’ll close the deal when in fact all he maybe doing is engaging a customer who is not only already set for a dissatisfying journey by addressing the price lever as opposed to the more proper value ones, he has voluntarily engaged the customer unprofitably and at significant risk.
Experience has shown that when employees are truly empowered to contribute to, and be empowered by a company’s brand promise and true customer centricity, he has many levers to consider beyond egregious price and profit erosion. To this point employers must be willing to empower and trust employees to deliver a superior customer experience and with appropriate authority to decide how to please as appropriate and without embarrassment. Conversely, when employees are either not empowered or given sufficient authority and knowledge to think with customer focus, our viewpoint and focus look only inward and in self protective manners, making poor judgements or worse, failing our customers in our engagement with them.
So, what’s our most important takeaways? Empowering employees to create customer centered delight with key knowledge and process will give each of us new levers to bring into our customer engagements in doing so, create employee emotional brand connection. Coupling strong pride in our brand promise with clarity about which facets of our customer journey are most probable to enhance the perception of value, especially in delivering a wow! experience at specific touch points will give us necessary understanding and empowerment to delight and capture lifetime customers at far higher profit margin and price points.