The Value Digest – April 30th

At DecisionLink we’re all about value. When we’re not building enterprise-class software solutions for Customer Value Management (CVM) like ValueCloud®, we’re busy exploring what’s going on in the world of value and sales leadership. In ‘The Value Chronicles’, published every second week, we’ll be sharing some of the news and editorial that has caught our eye.

Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 continues to challenge the whole world, but one common thread is digital transformation and its acceleration now and into the future. This is something close to our heart at DecisionLink, as we see it being key to agility and resilience as well as fundamental to success in an increasingly competitive world.

Here’s a few things we’ve seen as well as our own news and upcoming initiatives:

In our own news:

For more regular updates follow us on: linkedin.com/company/decisionlink, www.twitter.com/decisionlink or Facebook.com/Decisionlink

Value: The Thread that Connects Buyers & Sellers to Transcend Social Distancing

As the whole world is turned upside down by the Coronavirus (Covid-19), and people’s lives, careers and businesses are being profoundly affected, we find ourselves re-engineering and re-thinking social norms, behaviors, tools and information, in terms of how we live and work, and especially how we work together, i.e. collaborate. “Together” is a key part of combatting this crisis, and united, albeit physically apart, is the way we will defeat the global pandemic. Whether it’s working together to protect lives or to protect our livelihood, we seem to be embracing the “new normal” of living and working and adjusting accordingly.

We believe DecisionLink’s role in this New Normal, is to help in that social adjustment, and specifically to enable sellers and buyers to have productive conversations, no matter how flakey their Wi-Fi system is, or how slow the internet is responding, or how many times you get kicked off your video conferencing system. And we firmly believe the magical thread or link that will forge trust and strong working relationships, no matter the distance, is value. Specifically, the ability for sellers to crystalize their value in the exact terms the buyers can comprehend and appreciate. Frankly, anything short of a value-based conversation, in this world of lock-down, is really not a good use of time.

For instance, if you’re a sales professional, you are probably working from home and you’ve lost face-to-face access to your customers and prospects. If you’re in marketing you’ve lost some key channels to market like trade shows, conferences, sales events and user group meetings. With this ‘new normal’ setting in, what can sales and marketing teams do to keep the wheels turning?

And frankly 92% of buyers, according to Miller Heiman/CSO Insights, wanted to see your value proposition early when we were living in the ‘old normal’. Compare that to now, when they’ve been on a million Zoom calls and haven’t had time for a bio break, imagine their desire to hear what sellers have to say, crisply and concisely. Doing it over a pizza and beer, just isn’t going to happen, nor is the “bonding time” that creates. So, it’s really up to the seller’s ability to tell a qualitative and quantitative story quickly and ensure its compelling in order to get to the next step. Marketers are in a similar situation. Attentions spans drop daily; email campaigns better get to the point quickly or you will get thrown into the trash folder, before you can say ‘digital marketing.’

It’s likely that sales quotas aren’t dropping and the pressure is on to deliver results. So, what can you bring to the table, when you can’t come to the table?

Bring Me Value

Whatever question I am asked these days, I always seem to answer with one word, Value. Regardless of the selling motion or methodology, the most important thing to sell, and indeed to deliver, is value. Without it, we’re down in the weeds of function and features, and often on a slippery slope to discounts. Everything must have value to your customers, otherwise, why should they buy from you, or anyone else for that matter? And remember, you’re not only competing with an alternative provider. Now, more than ever, you’re competing with doing nothing or doing something completely different.

But how do you show a customer “value” when we’re working in the virtual world? And how do we scale and automate Value Management quickly?

DecisionLink been leading the Value Management crusade for several years now. For that time, our focus has been on developing enterprise-class solutions that facilitate the scaling and automation of Value Management, while evangelizing the importance of value throughout the entire customer lifecycle. We’ve not been a lone voice in the wilderness. Sales leaders now firmly believe in value selling and our stellar customer list is testament to that fact.

Without knowing what was coming, we’ve been building a solution that works as well remotely as it does in person. We’ve also created a route to automation that can be deployed and scaled remotely and quickly.

The DecisionLink Guarantee

To help alleviate the pressure that companies are facing, DecisionLink is proud to launch The DecisionLink Guarantee. The DecisionLink Guarantee pledges a complete reimbursement of the first year’s subscription fees for new subscribers to ValueCloud®, the company’s proven enterprise-grade Value Management platform, if they do not achieve objective goals. As part of this pledge, the company is also deferring 50% of the initial order payment for 120-days to help companies impacted by COVID-19.

In order to facilitate a successful implementation and onboarding, DecisionLink is further crediting 35% of the first-year subscription fees to the company’s proven Customer Onboarding Program, which delivers results in 30-days and Value Management excellence in 90-days.

Finally, DecisionLink also announced that it will commit 2.5% of its next 120-day revenue to Atlanta-based nonprofits, including Good Samaritan Health Center and Desire Street Ministries to support their work serving the city’s poor and homeless affected by COVID-19. The company’s founders, management, employees, directors, and shareholders have pledged to augment this donation by doubling the company’s total contribution amount.

When it all gets back to normal, don’t expect “normal” to be the same.

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing the world and once we’re past it, things won’t necessarily go back to the way they were. There’s the economic impact; when money is tight, discretionary spend goes down, which means if you’re not delivering value, you’re probably not delivering. We also shouldn’t expect business travel and events to restart as if nothing happened. Organizations need to plan for selling motions that are less around the table and more around a device for the foreseeable future. Lastly, all our habits have had to adapt, and some new habits will be formed and who knows… maybe they’re good habits.

Everything is very different right now, it’ll be different for a while, and in the end, when this is all over, it’ll still be a little different. But one thing we can say through these changing times is that value is key now, value will be key tomorrow and throughout this crisis, and value will remain the key to sales and business success in the future.

How are you enabling your teams to lead confidently with value in today’s “new normal”?

The Value Digest – April 7th

At DecisionLink we’re all about value. When we’re not building enterprise-class software solutions for Customer Value Management (CVM) like ValueCloud®, we’re busy exploring what’s going on in the world of value and sales leadership. In ‘The Value Chronicles’, published every second week, we’ll be sharing some of the news and editorial that has caught our eye.

Of course, recent news has been dominated by the tragic spread of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 and many are working hard (at home) to create their own ‘new normal’. For those in sales, this is particularly challenging, and we have been working on material and advice to support customer facing teams in a time when face-to-face time with customers is limited.

Here are a few things we’ve seen, along with a few of our own initiatives:

In our own news:

  • Having launched our latest white paper “Customer Value Management: Why Excel Can’t Cope,” we spoke with Trent Isaacs, RVP, Solutions Consulting and Value Engineering at Verint. Trent shared some of his own experiences with spreadsheets in a blog tilted, “Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Spreadsheets for Value Selling.
  • We’re also excited to be hosting our Power Seller’s Webinar Series this week (April 10th). This week’s lunch and learn topic is Selling Value & Building Trust in the “New Normal”. Building trust is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Face to face meetings have always been the preferred manner to connect, relate and build trust. There’s just something about that personal human connection that helps build relationships. This is becoming increasingly difficult as we adjust to our “new normal” in a world of digital selling. With travel slowing down, our ability to meet face to face with customers and prospects is no longer an easy option. From a selling perspective, how do we overcome this added obstacle to building trust and selling value? Sign up and join us.
  • And if you want to find out “What Exceptional Sales Playbooks Look Like (And How You Can Build Them Too)”. You can register for this Vendor Neutral webinar on April 28th, where our CEO, Jim Berryhill will be sharing his vision along with Surf & Sales’ Scott Leese, Membrain’s George Brontén and Catalyst Sales’ Mike Simmons.

For more regular updates follow us on linkedin.com/company/decisionlinkwww.twitter.com/decisionlink or Facebook.com/Decisionlink

Guest Blog with Verint: Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Rely on Spreadsheets for Value Selling

With the launch of our latest whitepaper “Customer Value Management: Why Excel Can’t Cope,” DecisionLink spoke with some customers, prospects and advisors to capture their experience and opinion of using spreadsheets and homegrown solutions to manage their value-based selling and customer value management efforts.

We spoke with Trent Isaacs, RVP, Solutions Consulting and Value Engineering at Verint. In his role, Trent oversees the value selling program and a team of presales consultants. With nearly 30 years of experience managing and contributing to corporate value selling programs, Trent shares the 4 key issues that he’s uncovered as shortcomings to managing a value management practice with Excel and custom-built spreadsheets.

Reason #1 – Spreadsheets usually only shows one expression of value and do that poorly.

In our years of using Excel to put together any level of business case, what we found was that the authors really only ever presented time-to-payback models and called them “ROI” models.  Very rarely did we ever express value in terms of NPV (Net Present Value), TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) or even proper ROI (Return on Investment).  That lack of flexibility in expressing the numbers usually meant that the only person who consumed those numbers on the customer side was our sponsor. When it came time for them to make a decision, they would almost always have to go through the effort of creating their own models and trying to translate our data into them. I always suspected that bias would enter the equation and we would completely lose control of the work at that point.

That lack of flexibility in creation in Excel, coupled with all the issues that have been called out in the “CVM: Why Excel Can’t Cope”, around mathematical errors, variability in user skill, and the lack of easily created customer facing outputs robs you of critical credibility to the customer regarding your acumen in value selling.

Reason #2 – No visibility to what has been created means auditing the work is a nightmare.

It is worth calling out that in an environment where each seller is using their own Excel tools, you have no practical way to audit what has been done either by volume of work or, even worse, the details of what has been created.

It’s a pretty awful feeling when you are in final preparation for a presentation, or even in the presentation itself, and you are faced with an overly complex Excel table that has been stuck in a slide to try to express value and try to make sense of. In the end, the final products delivered were riddled with logical holes, weak expressions of value or outright math errors that were hard to correct or defend.  That is way too much variability in deliverable quality to accept and expect to be successful.

Reason #3 – It is a vortex of time and effort

One of the biggest issues I had in our Excel days was simply trying to fit in the time and effort to build an Excel-based business case around all the other tasks associated with selling. Depending on complexity, it could take weeks of effort to pull a business case together.  This slowed our momentum and felt like a chore from the customer perspective. The cultural impact of that was that sellers actively tried to avoid doing business cases! That left them in mire of selling on feature/functionality and price instead of value and outcomes, which we all know is not where we want to be.

Reason #4 – It made us dumber about value

If the only definition of value selling is “did we do an ROI model in Excel?”, then you are lost and might not even know it. Excel became a crutch for us to use when we wanted to SAY that we had focused on business value when all we had really done was model potential benefits.  Excel-based models are a task, not a method. After years of working in that way, I believe it took us backwards in our understanding of how to talk about value from the very first steps with a prospect. The best way I can say it is that the way we used Excel models was designed to facilitate our selling process when what we were looking for was a way to facilitate the customers’ buying process.  They weren’t looking for clever math in a static spreadsheet, what they needed from us was a clearer message of how buying from us would bring value to them personally and to their organization broadly. That’s a very different way of selling.

Selling customer value is not only important, it’s essential! If you can’t show how you can deliver value better than your competition can, you’ll find yourself in a price and feature battle and in defense-mode trying to justify your price. Download our whitepaper to see why it’s time to use a cloud-based, enterprise-class solution instead of spreadsheets, and let us know if we can help you to explore ways to help your organization manage, automate and scale customer value management.