Salespeople, Understand your Value — The Golden Goose Fairy Tale


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Golden Goose Flambé

A Recipe for Roasting the Goose that lays the Golden Eggs

Ok, boys and girls out there in sales land, it’s story time
again. Join me as we skip down the yellow-brick road – the one winding through
the enchanted forests and nursery rhymes everywhere.

Off to your left just over the gingerbread fence you’ll see the
mansion of those Grim Brothers. Down on your right lays the cottage of Mother
Goose. And directly behind the little hill you can almost make out the Giant
Shoe once occupied by the lady with all those kids. It’s a magic moment, but
somehow the story has gone awry.

Let’s cut to the chase. Remember the fabled Goose who laid
the Golden Eggs? Too many India Pale Ales last night? A tough day at the
office? Let me refresh you.

A poor wood-chopper and his family are about to loose the
family house (and this was well before the sub-prime fiasco). When everything
appeared to be gloom and doom, the family pet decides to chip in by laying
24-karot sold gold eggs. And, at something like 20 ounces each, these things
turned out to be the best thing to happen in wood-chopping since Jack found
those magic beans. I mean this goose was cranking out eggs worth 25 grand a

Everything was hunky dory until the woodchopper married a
gal who worked in procurement down at the local castle. She had been trained
to haggle by one of the best consultants in the industry. And, she routinely
applied these principles to her home life. The butcher, the baker and the
candlestick guy all knew that she drove a hard bargain. And now she was
connected with the richest wood-chopper in all Storybook land.

She enjoyed the money and fame those eggs brought – but she
wanted just a bit more. In meeting after meeting with the goose she insisted
on bigger eggs, more eggs and she wanted it all for “chicken feed”. The goose
worked harder and longer but every improvement in eggs was only met with more

After cutting down the daily ration of chicken feed to the
absolute minimum, this procurement-trained lady wanted more.

Now back to our wood-chopping friend. One night as he
journeyed home, he noticed a wonderfully delicious smell lofting through the
air. By the time he made it through the lovely picket gate and up the walk,
his stomach was growling. He greeted his buying-blessed bride with a hardy hug
and a “what’s for dinner?” Sheepishly, she grinned and announced, “Golden
Goose Flambé”.

The moral of the story

Every good story time contains a moral. In this case the
moral of the story is simple. A goose can deliver golden eggs on a regular
basis, but you need to feed and care for the goose along the way. And, a
seemingly fat goose makes for a great meal – once.

For those of us in sales the moral is pretty similar. As
knowledge-based sellers, we can provide value to customers on a regular basis –
forever (almost). But if the customer chooses to eat the golden goose, the
value we provide goes away.

How does this happen? Well generally it’s a slow boil. Here
are some tasty aperitifs to whet your appetite:

You provide the customer’s engineering team with hours of
troubleshooting and expert advice for solving a nasty problem. But later
discover purchasing “accidently” sent the order to a low price competitor
across town.

Purchasing likes you and offers you the great fortune of a second
look. In this scenario, you get to provide world-class service for bozo-class
pricing levels.

The customer buys complex and highly-technical products from you
but purchases the easy ones from a no-service guy with bargain basement prices.

A Recipe for Joining the Un-Cooked

First, raise your right hand and repeat after me; I provide
valuable service to my customers. If you believe this – I mean really, really
believe… then proceed.

Service equates to value. And value has a 5,000 year old
system of measure. It’s called money. You need to understand that what you do
creates a cash flow just like the goose’s golden eggs. And, just like the
magical goose of our story, we sellers need to be fed. Here’s the deal – feed us
more and we provide more value. Feed us less, and the golden goose goes away.

But first, you need to understand. Most of our customer contacts
don’t really understand value. They understand technical things. They
understand logistical things and zillions of other aspects of their business.
But most don’t understand the financial picture of their business.

And you need to understand many purchasing and procurement
types are paid to “chip” you down on price. I know of one company where
purchasing folks receive bonuses based on their ability to drive the unit price
they pay down 7% per year. Off line, a couple of these fine folks (and they
are nice people) told me they knew it costs their company additional money for
maintenance, upkeep and processing – but hey that’s somebody else’s budget.
These purchasing department guys know you’re providing golden eggs daily. But
they assume once they have completed their dining experience with you, they can
just drop by the farm lot and find a chicken, pig or cow that lays golden eggs,

Your value message needs to be measured and logged for
posterity. It needs to be taken to the right people at your customer. It
needs to be shared with future customers. It needs to be broadcast to
prospects. And remember – this message must go to the right person – the one
who understands the financial impact.

Mom’s Apple Pie and the Girl Next Door

I believe it is our duty to promote and protect the value we
provide. A great many of my clients measure their value and find that they
deliver a value much greater than the price of their product.

Here’s a quick example. One automation solution provider
suggested the addition of a color sensor to their customer’s final assembly.
That $240 sensor saved the customer over 40 thousand dollars each year. And
while that payback was large and immediate, it’s not all that uncommon for
knowledge-based organizations to regularly provide value greater than the value
of the products they sell.

It becomes our responsibility to help our customers harness
this value. And, returning back to the Golden Goose story, we need to run like
heck when we see the wood-choppers wife carrying the recipe for Roast Goose.


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