The Value Gap: SiriusDecisions Summit Reveals Top Sales Challenge for 2014

If you were able to attend SiriusDecisions’ Summit, the Woodstock for marketing and sales enablement held this year in our hometown of Orlando, you were treated to significant research results as to the biggest challenges Sales faces over the next year.

The top challenges were not what most expected: Not the need for more leads, the ability for sales to find more content, new social selling skills, or more sales training.

Instead, the study results revealed that the Value Gap is by far the top challenge, indicated by a whopping 71% of execs as their top issue for 2014.

In the research, SiriusDecisions indicates a clear inability for Sales Reps to effectively articulate the value of their solutions.

Unfortunately, sales reps are not transitioning quickly enough from pitching products, to selling value - how recommended solutions solve top business challenges. The majority are struggling to connect their offerings to client business issues and quantifiable benefits. Clearly something needs to change, as the research reveals a clear Value Gap, between: 
  • A new breed of buyer, ever more empowered, skeptical and frugal, demanding a clear understanding of the business value a solution will bring before making a purchase, 
  • The majority sales approach that remains “in-to-out” focused on pitching products, features and price versus “out-to-in” focused on buyer challenges and the benefits / ROI of proposed solutions.  
Frugalnomics is still in effect, and this requires a new investment focus and approach from sales executives, sales enablement and marketing  to "mind the Value Gap" and improve sales effectiveness.

The Sirius recommendation: B2B solution providers need to invest in the right value messaging, sales tools, training and coaching / leadership to evolve from pitching products to a value-focused sales approach:
  1. Assessing and diagnosing business issues
  2. Quantifying the "cost of do nothing"
  3. Recommending and aligning solutions with business issues
  4. Proving the tangible value the solutions can deliver
  5. Measuring and assuring realized benefits post sale.
This is the FOURTH year in a row that the Value Gap issue remains the top challenge, as the focus and investments remain insufficient to evolve sales reps to meet buyer expectations for a value-focused approach.

According to Jim Ninivaggi, Sales Enablement Practice Director for SiriusDecisions, “Simply put -- if you want to grow revenue, your sale reps have to evolve from pitching products to clearly articulating and quantifying the value your solutions deliver.”

Are you focusing your attention and investments enough on this critical issue, or will it be a top challenge for you in 2015 and beyond?

Access the On Demand live interview with Edge Coble, Research Analyst for SiriusDecisions, to discuss this new research:






Comments

MrB said…
Tom, this chimes with what we are seeing in UK. However, this makes it feel like it is all the reps fault. While there are may salespeople who will struggle to make the transition, the sorry excuses for value propositions we keep seeing doesn't exactly arm the sale rep with compelling stories. To my mind we need to shine a torch into the forgotten and broken area of program and proposition development to help out the sales reps.
MrB said…
Tom, this chimes with what we are seeing in UK. However, this makes it feel like it is all the reps fault. While there are may salespeople who will struggle to make the transition, the sorry excuses for value propositions we keep seeing doesn't exactly arm the sale rep with compelling stories. To my mind we need to shine a torch into the forgotten and broken area of program and proposition development to help out the sales reps.
Rick Ash said…
There are top notch, global systems integrators that educate their salesforce on value add selling. It doesn't happen through osmosis, but a similar process creates progress in leaps and bounds. Call it "buddy selling", 4-legged Sales Calls, whatever. Send your lowest performance rep on a few calls with your best performer. They will see note-taking, intent listening and good follow up, open ended questions. A great salesperson is like a miner, mining for information that the CxO or IT "influencer" might not realize is relevant. Go further, meet with the Directors/Executives of the business units, they will be anxious to give "their" input.
Try and develop a coach in the account, someone with decision making authority and understands their business model. Early on, commit to developing a "relationship", not just another in a long line of vendors. Be there 2,3 times a week as you lay the groundwork. Don't be surprised if within a year or two you get your own cubicle of an office. Sign NDA's, ask to be allowed into different internal business meetings. You don't have to sell something every day, I have seen large projects in Enterprise Accounts take 6 months to complete discovery, articulate a proposal, then deliver a Bill of Materials and Statement of Work.
IF you are selling on price alone I will beat you, and I will have quoted a higher price. By being there, expressing an interest in understanding their business you can justify am incrementally higher price. YOU have made an investment in them. Two last things. 1. If you sell on price, you will lose on price. 2. If a buyer shows you a competitors pricing you have learned a lot. If they do it FOR you, they will do it TO you. I have accounts where I leave part numbers off of product quotes and include only the product description.
These are just a couple of things I have learned in 42 years of IT Sales. Good Luck!
Rick Ash
Andrew Titus said…
While you say companies need to progress/educate reps to address your 5 points, companies are not hiring people who truly understand business and how they really work. Only a very well rounded business education allows reps to detect and relate how value is created to all the decision influences in solution selling. Messaging memorization and presentation skills alone don't connect the dots for detecting and revealing unrecognized value and benefits that build the trust needed to enable selling to the portion of the brain that makes real decisions.
Andrew Titus said…
While you say companies need to progress/educate reps to address your 5 points, companies are not hiring people who truly understand business and how they really work. Only a very well rounded business education allows reps to detect and relate how value is created to all the decision influences in solution selling. Messaging memorization and presentation skills alone don't connect the dots for detecting and revealing unrecognized value and benefits that build the trust needed to enable selling to the portion of the brain that makes real decisions.

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