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Why Discovering Value is THE Foundational Skill for Customer Focus

Since customer focus is really value focus, selling processes and methodologies must make your anyone in a customer-facing role better at discovering value gaps. The reason: customer perceived value is the life-force driving all commerce. It’s the “invisible power” inside of Adam Smith’s unseen hand. A sale only occurs when a customer perceives value in excess of price. Prospects only agree to take meetings that are worth the time. Click-throughs are positive responses to a value proposition. When a leader wants their company to be customer-centric, the kernel inside that drive is to be focused on customer value.

Sales is a process of discovering and leveraging value to influence a decision. Dissatisfaction with status quo, aspirations for a better future state, then connecting value to a proposed change.

First layer: Value Discovery

The foundation of customer value focus is conversation skills among any person touching a customer throughout the arc of the customer journey. The ability to uncover value should be a responsibility at every customer touch-point. This doesn’t have to mean sales training for the people in accounts receivable, but it does mean a purposeful development of certain abilities. For groups who interact regularly and deeply with customers, there are several sales methodologies for helping sellers facilitate needs –satisfaction discussions. I happen to love those of the Miller Heiman Group.

Surprisingly, few methodologies guide customer conversations to the critical point where a customer internalizes and measures value. Establishing a value-discovery methodology to all customer-facing roles is a huge competitive advantage for any company pursuing a customer intimacy value discipline……. A fundamental sales skill is helping a customer build a mental value picture.

Second level: Business Acumen

Understanding the customer’s world empowers us to sell conventional value propositions. Understanding their world exceptionally well allows us to connect our solution into a more detailed, more compelling value picture. For this reason, many sales leaders have realized that building business acumen for sellers and customer –facing roles is a big performance booster. Being a trusted advisor requires that a seller knows their customer’s business well enough to give valued insights…and you can’t know your customer’s business unless you know business.

Business acumen gives us the ability to look at a prospective customer’s business insightfully. Demonstrating a deep understanding of the prospective prospect’s business builds the credibility foundation needed to trust a seller’s perspective. Without that credibility, you risk being just another annoying know-it-all spewing a misdirected “credibility deck” in a prospect’s direction. Value messaging turns into old-fashioned “telling” if the perspective is not anchored in customer insight.

Business acumen is needed to discover value that is hidden to average sellers.  It supports a more detailed “map” of value landing points: personas and roles within the target company where the seller’s differentiation generates value. A tool called “value networks” builds this high-level selling practice into a repeatable system for entire sales teams.

Elite level: Achieving higher Win-Win Prices.

Gaining customer insight allows us to not only build a deeply engaging case for change., but to have the customer engage that perception of value in relation to price.

Using great customer conversation skills and methodologies with customers to define and monetize the value they perceive accomplishes two things:

  1. It solidifies a higher win-win price (either minimized discounting on standard products/services or more productive price-setting on custom ones)
  2. Reinforced perception of value, stronger preference. Customers pay higher prices for value received, but only pay higher prices they can’t justify in the short term. Raising prices isn’t the trick; getting them to internalize the price justification is. Once a customer has built their own value case for your pricing, that case tends to stick. When you do it right, customers build a preference for your product/service into their justification for your price

Putting it together

Building teams of elite sellers is a passion. Building businesses driven by discovering and delivering superior customer value is an even bigger calling. And it all starts with a great conversation; the ability to uncover and build value (because the only kind of value in the world is customer-perceived).

My upcoming book will expand on these subjects. If you don’t want to wait for publication date, feel free to contact me; I’d love to learn how I can provide some value and perspective.

To Your Success!

#customerfocus, #methodology, #MHIGlobal, #MillerHeiman, #MillerHeimanGroup, #Perspectiveselling, #process, #salesmethodology, #salesprocess, #value, #valueculture, #valuepricing, #worldclasssales, #salesperformance

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Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development Technology

Back to Basics

In the spirit of the recent Super Bowl, let me ask you this: Do you think the Patriots or Eagles would have made it it to the big game if coaches Bill Belichick or Doug Pederson didn’t focus on the basics first? How about legendary coach Vince Lombardi who after losing to Philadelphia in the 1961 Championship game (before there was a Super Bowl) started the next season holding up a football and saying “this is a football” then continued to work on the basics of blocking and tackling for the rest of training camp. His team won the Championship title six months later.

Whether you in pro sports or cybersecurity, getting back to basics is essential. However in modern times, organizations seem so focused on new technology or cutting costs and have forgotten about the cybersecurity basics.

When talking about cybersecurity basics we are talking about three things: People, Processes, and Technology.

We start with people because people are your first line of defense against a cybersecurity incident and as security professionals knows they are unfortunately your weakest link. They are your first line of defense because they can see anomalous behavior and activity, and they are your weakest link because they often don’t know what they are looking for.

Ransomware payouts of 5 billion dollar were made in 2017 with predictions for 11.5 billion by 2019. This attack is often successful because an innocent user clicks on the wrong link in an email or visits the wrong website.

This means that getting back to basics with people is all about good, consistent, and frequent security awareness training. Letting your workforce know that they are the front line defense against a cyber attack will peak their interest, they will want to learn more. Reminding them of their role and providing them with the knowledge they need to do something about it is the key in getting back to basics.

Make sure they know what to look for, what to do or not do on their computers, and how to report anything suspicious. Reward them for staying on top of security, give them some skin in the game (no pun intended.)

When you rely on that one annual security awareness computer course each year you are missing out on the basics. Your entire team needs regular training if they are going to be sharp on game day, which is everyday in the defense against the cyber attacker. And don’t forget that your employees who do have a job description that includes security need additional and ongoing training above and beyond what everyone else is getting.

We now move to processes because this is what people do daily for their jobs. It’s the process that gets data from point A to point B and the process can be manual or automated.

So what do processes have to do with cybersecurity? Processes are typically created by users who are trying to make their jobs easier (that’s fair) and have not given thought to security, which makes sense since it’s not what they are trained to do. However in creating those processes they don’t realize that they are creating security risks.

The solution is providing the business user with the knowledge that while they own their process they also have a responsibility for ensuring the processes is secure. That means providing a way for them determine easily if their new idea needs to be run by a security expert before implementing. Basically the players here (your users) need a coach (security expert) to run the play by before they run it on the field during the big game.

Last, but not least is technology and while many people think that technology should come first in protecting data it actually comes last. More on that in Security is Not an IT Problem.

This is about to get more technical and if you are a non-technical executive I implore you to read it and then talk with your technical advisors to determine how your team is doing on the technology basics.

From a technology perspective getting back to basics means ignoring all the new flashy technology on the market today. IT decision makers are inundated with fancy names, and terminology like cloud, artificial intelligence, threat modeling, next generation, ransomware, zero day, phishing, data loss prevention, and much more. This can divert their attention towards the new technology and away from the basics.

Patching is as basic as it comes for technology and something that has been around as long as there have been computers. However it is still not applied consistently within organizations and has been pointed to as the cause (there is never just one cause) for the Equifax breach. Only two months behind in applying the patch doesn’t seem like a big deal until it becomes one of the key reasons you lose 143 million customer records.

Back the football analogy when you know there is a patch available and you don’t apply it is like the coach and players knowing there is a hole in their defense, they know the quarterback can run right through it for the touchdown and yet they don’t make any change to fix the play.

There are many other basics when it comes to technology like password controls, user access controls, encryption, firewalls, and anti-malware software to name a few. None of these are new, they all have had technology to support them for a very long time and yet many organizations are not focusing on these basics. They allow users to have the same password for years, they don’t control the access levels that users have and often allow administrative access to non-administrative users, they don’t encrypt sensitive day, they have wide open firewalls, and they don’t install anti-malware consistently.

I warned you, that last section might have been Greek to you and that’s OK because you don’t have to know what it means, all you have to do is have someone in your organization or a trusted advisor you can consult with to ensure the basics are covered before you start purchasing all the new wizbang technology.

Start with the basics; people, processes, and technology, and build from there because you can have all the fancy technology in the world, but if you are not covering the basics you are still wide open to the offensive team making play after play. In other words you are allowing the hackers to come in and take whatever they want.

If you have questions about the basics email sharon@c-suiteresults.com. If you don’t have a security team and want more information on how Virtual CISO services work, which are designed to help small and medium size organizations maintain their security and compliance posture reach out so we can talk in more detail.

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Entrepreneurship Health and Wellness Women In Business

Olympic Performance, Business Performance: One in the Same

I love the Olympics! From the pomp and circumstance of the Opening Ceremonies, to the stories of the individual athletes to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Given that I’m a “people person,” I’m always wondering about the “back story” of Olympians and their performance.

What’s going on in the mind of the athlete? I’d like to interview each one of them and ask, “What did you do to train your mind? How are you thinking – or are you thinking – during the heat of the competition? How do you talk to yourself when you lose – when the dream passes you by?”

These athletes are people, just like you and me. Let’s look at what sets them apart and see how can you achieve that level of greatness in your life and your work. Perhaps you are at the pinnacle of your career and have mastered a great many of the mental skills that are necessary to be calm in the heat of moment. Or possibly, you are in an enviable professional position, but the stress is taking its toll.

Or you may be on your way towards higher goals, but don’t know how to harness your energy in the manner of a true Olympian. Many highly competitive people like athletes, business leaders and entrepreneurs think that success is about working harder. While you cannot achieve lofty goals without hard work, it’s the mental training that makes the difference.

Here are 3 skills that you can begin to cultivate. Many of them you have heard about before. I frequently say that this information is “common knowledge, but not common
practice.” If you want to upgrade your level of performance under pressure, you will need to take it on with the same level of commitment as with any other skill you want to master.

1. Meditation

Meditation is simply “focused concentration,” Pick a sound, a word, an image, your breath, a candle…anything that you can bring your attention back to every time it wanders. One of the hallmarks of great athletes and great leaders is their ability to assess a situation in a split second. They don’t get flustered under intense pressure; they see possibilities where others don’t.

Meditation works on both the mind and the body in profound ways. When we quiet down the nervous system, we also quiet down the part of the brain that is always chattering. At the same time, we are strengthening the pre-frontal cortex, which is the executive part of the brain that we want onboard in pressured situations. I frequently hear people say, “I can’t meditate. I can’t quiet my mind.” Just remember, that the “monkey mind” is our natural state when the mind is untrained. Meditation is one of the keys to changing that situation.

2. Change Your Thoughts to “Productive Thinking.”

Again, I’m sure you’ve heard that you need to speak to yourself in a positive way, yet the mind is prone to offering us “worst case scenarios.” Just telling yourself to stop thinking in a certain way is easier said than done. Rather than glibly telling myself to think positively (because I don’t always believe it), I ask myself, “Do my thoughts produce something useful for me?” For example, If I’ve inadvertently missed an important appointment, rather than beating myself up, I ask myself in a non-judgmental way, “How did this happen and what can I learn from it?”

3. Commit

Every great achievement starts with a commitment to the self. We can’t know how things will turn out, because in taking big risks, we are subject to many variables that are out of our control. But we can control our thoughts and our actions and make that life-changing decision that we’ll do “whatever it takes” to reach our dreams.

While you’re watching the Olympics and marveling at the thrilling performances of the athletes, just know that you, too, have the potential for greatness. Learn how to harness your mind through peak performance training.

If you’d like to see where you are on the level of peak performance skills, I invite you to take my quiz here.

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