Many marketing organizations play a role in pricing and enabling sales teams to effect value selling strategies with business customers and clients. How active and effective they are varies enormously from organization to organization. In industries where sales teams have increasing challenges in attaining and maintaining appropriate pricing, it is critical that they be enabled by their marketing support unit focusing on value pricing.
To maximize its ability to support the sales process, marketing must look at price/fee negotiations itself as a process, not a transactional activity. A marketing organization with a “one and done” approach to launching value pricing will likely fail to deliver the value it should to the sales force. It is much more effective to view value pricing as part of a lifecycle looking something like Figure 1.
Throughout the pricing life-cycle the marketing team has a critical role to play. And, all too often, they let the sales teams down by not playing that role as well as they should. High performing marketing organizations effectively supporting value-selling have five tasks they must accomplish in order to maximize their enablement of their sales teams in the field:
Capture a robust assessment of customer/client interest sets by targeted sub-populations: The key driver of value-based sales comes down to interests at the end of the day. Marketing and sales teams have to work collaboratively to segment the customer/client base and to understand the key interests of each segment and sub-segment. The value proposition for your services or products must be well-aligned with the interests different types of potential buyers have.
Design a clear, well-articulated value proposition for sales teams to use that ties into accurate assessment of client value perceptions: Marketing teams must target the value proposition, and provide supporting sales collateral, in a way that aligns with customer/client perceptions of the value to be delivered from your goods or services. In selling, the value you think they should see is not really relevant…it is the value they actually discern that is critical to effective value selling.
Ensure that sales teams understand pricing structure and underlying logic: All too often sales teams have trouble articulating the legitimacy behind their pricing structure. Explanations like “That’s what the price sheet says” or “The Pricing Team told me that was the best we could do” are somewhere between ineffective and ludicrous in the context of value selling. By definition, value pricing is based on customer/client perceptions of value. Sales enablement requires that marketing work with sales, on an ongoing and regular basis, to continuously improve sales’ ability to articulate the value proposition and explain the pricing structure and its underlying logic.
Create a feedback loop from sales to marketing to continuously refine and refresh the value proposition: Keeping the feedback loop open, and keeping the value proposition fresh in light of new learnings from the marketplace, is critical. No matter how good the marketing team is, and no matter how hard they think about value propositions in advance, there will inevitably be critical discoveries by sales teams out in the field that need to be injected back into the marketing team for them to success-fully refine and hone the value proposition, pricing structure, and supporting collateral.
Establish rigorous metrics and evaluation mechanisms, and automation of customized collateral: To maximize marketing’s impact on value selling, and to ensure a higher ROI on marketing investment, it is critical that a company actually measure utilization of marketing collateral and sales support tools and analyze pipeline and closing data for tips on how to improve sales enablement. Moreover, in the value selling arena, customization of any collateral to create materials that speak directly to individual customer interests and apply directly to different stages in the sale process is critical. Marketing has to enable sales people to easily customize materials to meet their exact needs in personalized, persuasive customer conversations.
There certainly are other important tasks that a marketing organization must accomplish to support value selling and enable their sales teams. However, missing the mark on any of the above will impede marketing’s ability to maximize its impact on value-selling effectiveness in their company.