DecisionLink at the Pre-Sales Value Engineering/Pre-Sales Leadership Collective Fall Workshop: Customer Value Management for Pre-Sales Leaders

John Porter and Kristina Cutter of DecisionLink recently led thought leadership discussions surrounding Customer Value Management and value selling for pre-sales leaders at the Pre-Sales Value Engineering/Pre-Sales Leadership Collective Fall Workshop on October 14, 2019.

John Porter is the CTO and Co-Founder of DecisionLink. He is the visionary and pioneering technical expert creator of DecisionLink’s ValueCloud ®. John is a pre-sales thought leader who also leads the Customer Value Management group on LinkedIn.

John has split his career almost 50/50 between pre-sales/pre-sales management and value engineering for small and large technology companies like edocs, Siebel Systems, Oracle and SAP. John and his team have built the DecisionLink ValueCloud® to help customer facing resources (pre-sales, sales, customer success and product marketing) to easily quantify, articulate, defend and ultimately measure customer value throughout the entire customer journey.

Kristina Cutter is the Senior Director of Customer Enablement for DecisionLink. She is former Director of Sales Operations and Enablement at Amadeus Hospitality. While there, she successfully launched and led a value selling program for over 70 field reps internationally. She is now a part of the DecisionLink team working with customers from Pre-Sales through Implementation and Enablement.

Together John and Kristina led a presentation at the Pre-Sales Value Engineering event at the Seattle Pre-Sales Leadership Collective that was held at the Smartsheet offices in Bellevue, WA on October 14, 2019.

The Seattle Pre-Sales Leadership Collective is an exclusive community of the best pre-sales leaders at growth companies that work together to network, share experiences, and learn from one another. Our membership consists of leadership from companies such as DocuSign, SAP, Concur, Tableau, Smartsheet and many more. They host Seattle-based workshops specifically for pre-sales (sales/solution engineering/consulting) leaders for networking and group discussions. The workshop topics revolve around leading a pre-sales function within a growing sales organization.

This was a full day event that was focused on why it is crucial to include a business case with every opportunity and how Pre-Sales can help as the “tip of the spear” with speaking to value EARLY in the sales process. The first half of the day was spent on what we are seeing in the marketplace, followed by a panel made up of folks who implemented “value practices” at their organization. The second half was more tactical and focused on how to create value statements and benefits in an easy to understand/scalable way.

There were 20 pre-sales leaders in attendance, and they were all really engaged and interested in learning more about insights into trends in the evolving Customer Value Management market. The presenters explained how pre-sales can facilitate value selling conversations, lead value programs, and elevate the acumen within customer facing personnel across the board. During the session, John and Kristina also conducted a workshop that taught participants how and where to build their first value model and apply it to a customer scenario.

In addition, Kristina Cutter participated in a panel discussion on the topic of Customer Value Management with the following participants:

Trent Isaacs
Trent serves as Regional Vice President, Solutions Consulting and Value Selling at Verint systems.  In this role, he leads teams of presales Solutions Consultants in supporting enterprise software sales in the Americas.  He has successfully launched a value-selling program in the region used for over 100 field staff. Prior to his 13 years with Verint, he held senior leadership positions responsible for the management of contact center operations in the BPO space for 10+ years.

 Taylor Boldt
Former retail strategy consultant at Merkle Loyalty Solutions. While there Taylor worked with companies like L’Oreal, Sony and Michael Kors to maximize customer spend and retention. Taylor is now a member of Value Engineering team at DocuSign where he is responsible for all things DecisionLink. The tool has been rolled out to over 500 users across North America.

 Josh Lankford
Josh is a former Sr. Value Engineer within JDA’s Global Value Engineering team, where he specialized in understanding client needs and mapping them to JDA solutions in order to drive value attainment.  Josh has over 20 years of experience across Manufacturing and Retail organizations, and has held various roles across operations, IT, consulting, and software sales. Josh’s strengths include both a depth as well as breadth of knowledge across Retail, Merchandising and Supply Chain operations gained as a practitioner as well as a consultant / vendor.  Josh’s passion lies in helping others define the strategic initiatives and roadmaps needed to unleash the value within their organization and his diverse background enables him to successfully lead cross functional and cross-cultural teams in achieving their objectives.

Would you like to schedule a free DecisionLink ValueCloud® customer value assessment for your company? Please click here to schedule.

Handling Objections to Starting a Customer Value Management Program

A Customer Value Management (CVM) program uses metrics to ensure high levels of value are delivered to every customer based on their needs throughout the life of the relationship. Managing customer value as a practice and with an enabling application allows enterprises to treat customer value as a strategic asset and win business and retain customers more often; decrease discounting, accelerate deal cycles, market and showcase value, price more effectively and reduce churn.

One of the biggest challenges, especially at organizations that are just dipping their toe into formal customer value selling, is push back on “why do we need this?” and “can this wait?” This flies directly in the face of almost every sales methodology which says aligning your solution and value to customer initiatives is imperative in:

  1. Reducing loss to no decision
  2. Minimizing deal erosion, via discounting, at the negotiating table
  3. Speeding up the sales cycle

Why all the push back? And what do we typically hear:

  1. My sales people are not ready to have these conversations
  2. Our customers are not asking for this
  3. We are in the middle of rolling out a formal sales methodology

Let’s take each one of these in context…

My sales people are not ready to have these conversations

It is true that today, in many cases, only the top 20% of sellers are ready, willing and able to have these conversations confidently. Coincidentally, they are almost always your top performers. If you can, through a Customer Value Management Program, bottle the DNA of these top performers and make it available to others, you could double or even triple the number of top performers in your organization. What would that mean for sales leaderships and your company’s success? To that end, the right time is yesterday not tomorrow.

Our customers are not asking for this

Your prospects/customers may not be directly asking for a business value assessment or business case, but they are going to be lucky if they get funding approval from the company for this quarter without one. In reality, most of your “buyers” have not bought your type of solution before, they are not experts in the value it brings and what differentiates it from, not only competition, but also “do nothing”. By leaving this in their hands you have effectively removed any control you have over the sales / buying cycle. Additionally, there is no better way, within the buyer, to figure out who has to get involved and what steps are needed to sign than to start socializing a business case for changing the status quo.

We are in the middle of rolling out a formal sales methodology

Let’s face it, the #1 reason sales training and methodology implementations fail is because two days after the training everyone forgets what they have learned and ultimately reverts to the prior habits. A Customer Value Management Program, at its essence, is a way to reinforce most of these sales methodology and training investments through tooling and support. Now the investment in making your people successful can be reinforced in their daily deal engagement.

When it comes down to it, selling value offers many benefits and delivers results that improve sales performance across the board. There are always excuses to put things off, but the faster the process begins, the sooner the benefits are enjoyed.

Would you like to schedule a free customer value assessment for your company?  If so, please click here now!