It’s no secret that supply chain and delivery challenges, rising inflation, and overall market volatility are driving conversations around fee and price increases. This conversation is impacting everything from current client agreements with long-standing relationships to prospecting opportunities with new relationships.
Because this is a trend that arose quickly, most sales training programs aren’t equipped to handle sales skill development on this topic in a timely manner. This trend is also shining a light on strategic aspects of sales training programs (like selling on value and consultative selling) that are lacking and would benefit from a refreshed approach.
This article provides sales training price conversations strategies for sales training leaders, sales leaders, and CEOs to help you successfully navigate fee and price conversations in the near-term and long-term. If you’re an individual sales professional, keep reading on because there are valuable ideas in here to apply to your sales mindset and sales activities.
Some Uncomfortable Truths Impacting Your Sales Training Programs
There are some uncomfortable truths impacting your sales training programs. Some are related to the current inflationary and supply chain challenges, and several are more strategic. Consider those that are impacting your organization and to what degree. These are sales skills that can be taught and reinforced in your sales training programs, so that you can solve for today’s challenges and be prepared for future sales challenges.
- If your organization is living on price increases alone right now and not meaningful growth, you are losing ground both financially and in your client relationships.
- Elite organizations are focused on smart growth. While they may adjust expectations and timelines, they remain visible in the market and continue. to invest in their strategic priorities. (Listen to my recent podcast on Decision Vision.)
- Most sales professionals overestimate their ability to sell value. It’s unintended, but they’re often relying on price to drive conversations. This presents an even greater challenge during times of disruption.
- Most sales professionals aren’t as consultative as they believe. When pressed they shy away from respectfully digging in with consultative questions and find their comfort level in pricing-related conversations.
- How your sellers buy is often how they sell. In my partnership with Objective Management Group, I offer my clients a scientifically validated assessment that is 92% accurate in 21 sales competencies. How your sales professionals buy high-value products and services in their personal decision making has significant impact on how they sell high-value items with your clients and customers.
How Can Sales Training Help Sales Teams Avoid Price / Fee Traps?
Sales training programs can be an integral part of the solution from several perspectives:
- Helping sales teams to become more consultative. This includes helping sales professionals to be able to stay in the moment with their prospects, asking thought provoking questions, and respectfully challenging a client’s thought processes. This also includes the ability to use advisory intelligence, which is a continual process of understanding the client’s industry, challenges, and opportunities, and then offering unique insights for them to consider. (Check out my eBook on Sales Methodology for more on this.)
- Positioning value first and then pricing commensurate with that value. It’s knowing a table stake that makes a sales professional seem like everyone else, versus a true differentiator and creating a category of one. This includes understanding the client’s motivations to move forward with a decision to change, and how they will realize both organizational value and personal value from the decision. I call this “the ambassador factor.”
- Negotiating win-win-win. In every sales situation, there should be three winners – the client organization, the seller’s organization, and the seller. Getting to this combination of winning takes the ability to find common ground, to negotiate the terms of an agreement versus simply lowering fees upon request, and the willingness to find suitable alternatives.
- Helping teams build the skill of qualifying opportunities. A well-qualified opportunity and client is one that will have lower odds for issues related to pricing. This skill ties to the others in the section because when a seller is more consultative, focused on value, and willing to look at multiple angles, that seller will be more skilled at spotting an at-risk opportunity and not pursuing it.
How Can Sales Training Help Sales Professionals Have Successful Conversations Related to Price Increases?
It’s inevitable that at some point there will a conversation around fee increases, whether it’s due to a triggering event like supply chain or inflationary issues, or your firm is making strategic increases across the board. Below are some questions that sales training and sales enablement teams can incorporate into their skill development programs. With sales professionals taking the time to consider their scenarios, they can develop better conversations.
- Is this a temporary increase, or something long-term or even permanent?
- What is the additional value they will receive with a price increase?
- Are you having regular conversations with your clients, so that a discussion around fees isn’t the only topic of conversation over the past several quarters?
- Can you confidently demonstrate your understanding of their outcomes, how they measure success, and what overall value they are looking to create?
- In a fee increase discussion, what would be a win-win-win? What other alternatives might we need to consider?
Your Sales Training Solutions Need to Include Consultative Selling and Confidence in Negotiation
To significantly improve the outcomes of sales training or other elements of your sales strategy, let’s schedule a conversation. Don’t let your competition get an advantage. Contact us to schedule a conversation with Amy.