Why Industrial Salespeople
Struggle To Sell Value
By Paul Reilly
In a recent study, Reilly Sales Training discovered the three greatest hurdles industrial salespeople face when attempting to sell value. The survey revealed that
salespeople are not:
• Meeting with the right decision makers
• Differentiating their solution
• Creating enough value for customers
Here is how salespeople can combat these three
Getting In Front Of The Ultimate
The number one challenge industrial salespeople face
is meeting with the ultimate decision maker. Industrial
salespeople spend 34 percent of their face-to-face selling
time with procurement departments. They are attempting
to sell value to the most price-sensitive decision maker.
When pursuing a new opportunity, start with high-level
decision makers (HLDMs). HLDMs are upper management.
They include business owners, executives and directors.
Industrial salespeople spend less than 7 percent of their
selling time in front of these decision makers.
These decision makers think differently and buy
differently. HLDMs have five areas of concern:
profitability, cash flow, competitive posture, deployment
of resources and customer satisfaction. Demonstrate how
a partnership with your company will help them improve
in these key areas.
Getting an initial meeting with an HLDM is challenging.
HLDMs are busy, but they will make time for people that
can help them achieve their business objectives. Here are
some tips when pursuing HLDMs:
• The most effective way to initiate contact with
an HLDM is to get a referral from someone. A
referral gives you instant credibility and they are
more effective than a simple cold call. In fact, the
Journal of Marketing Research claims that one
referral can be as effective as twelve cold calls.
•;Create value in your communication. Tell the
HLDM something they don’t already know.
Provide them with a new idea or insight. Be
persistent in your communication and use
multiple sources: phone, e-mails, letters, etc.
•;Arrange a meeting between your high-level
managers and your prospect’s HLDM. This is
called a high-level schmooze. This shows the
prospect that you will support their business at
the highest levels within your organization.
Differentiating Your Solution
What makes you different than your competition?
This is one of the most difficult questions for industrial
salespeople to answer. To answer this question, consider
your total solution. Ask yourself three fundamental sales
• Why should the customer buy our products?
• Why should they buy from our company?
• Why should they buy from me, their salesperson?
Most salespeople answer the first question with
product, features and benefits (PFBs). A generic PFB
presentation blends in with the competition, especially if
you are selling the same products. Rather than focusing
on features and benefits, consider how you service the
products you sell. Do you package it differently? Do you
offer extended service? Do you offer better delivery?
Customers want to buy from companies that are easy
to do business with. Be able to explain or demonstrate
the value your company adds to the overall solution. This
includes number of locations, inventory levels, reputation,
post-sale support, etc.
According to our internal research, the salesperson
represents 25 percent of the total value of the solution.
Demonstrate the personal value you bring. Your personal
value includes integrity, follow-up, personal service
and ability to solve problems. You represent a unique
dimension of value. There is only one you.
However, when you are presenting your personal value,
it’s not enough to claim you have integrity or problem-
solving skills. You have to prove it. When presenting your
personal value, share a story or a specific example. Better