Enterprise, Sales and marketing, Sales and marketing

Focus on the Customer, Not the Cost!

Author: David Brock, president, Partners in Excellence
Author: David Brock, president, Partners in Excellence

We set ourselves up for failure, and we set our customers up for failure when we focus on the price–even the costs of our products and services.

Sadly, most selling, and much buying, focuses on the wrong thing, “What’s the price?” We train our customers to focus on price by the way we sell. Early in their buying process, we bring up our price, “We are cheaper than the competition.” “We are willing to discount…” “If you buy by the end of the quarter…”

As a result of the way we sell, we’ve changed the way customer buy. We’ve shifted their focus from business outcomes, to the cheapest price.

We lose, our customers lose!

Focus on Cost is a Lose-Lose

Our customers shouldn’t be buying on price, but we keep driving the conversation, often from the very first encounter, to focus on price.

Sometimes, we compete on TCO–Total Cost Of Ownership. We recognize, that it’s not just what it costs to buy the product, but also the costs to operate the product.

For example, our product may be more expensive, based on the price, but we might make the argument, that over the life cycle of the customer using the product the total spending is less than with all the alternatives.

We look at the cost of the product, training, support, maintenance, upgrades. The customer may have to buy other things to support their usage of a product. For example, software (cloud or otherwise) isn’t very useful without a device.

We get the customer to look at total cost of ownership (TCO). We get the customer to look at the overall TCO, not just the price of the product.

For those whose price is higher than the alternatives, TCO is a technique we use to justify our higher price. “Yes, our price is higher, but over the life cycle of your use of our product, you will spend much less than what you will spend with the competition!”

Too often, sales people don’t look at TCO. Usually, it’s only when they know their price is more than competition, so they try to reframe it looking over the lifecycle.

It is an important consideration, it is helpful for the customer to understand this, but it’s still wrong for the customer.

Selling on price or TCO keeps the focus on us, our product, and the competition. Yet we create the greatest value by focusing on the customer!

Focus on Customers' Outcomes

The customer is not–or should not be buying–because of our price! They should not be buying because of our TCO! Customers buy because of the outcomes we enable them to achieve.

I’ll repeat that. Customers don’t buy—and we shouldn’t let them buy—because of the cost! They should buy because of the outcomes our solutions create.

It’s our job to help the customer understand this. We create the greatest value with our customers by helping them focus on the business outcomes and how to achieve them.

We need to help the customer understand the total business case, the change/risk management issues critical to achieving the outcomes. We must help the customer develop and execute a plan to achieve their business goals.

The magic of this is that it moves the focus from us, to the customer and their success—which is all they care about. And in doing this, we demonstrate how they achieve that success through us.

Don’t let your customers buy on price!

Don’t let your customer buy on TCO!

Focus on the total business results, the business outcomes we create with our customers.

Focus on the customer success!

David Brock is president, Partners in Excellence. Read more from David Brock here.