Quenching Your Customer’s Thirst for Value
(January 6, 2019)
Sweat poured down his back. He wiped his brow with the back of his hand. Miserable, Joe stopped walking and sat down in the hot sand. He couldn’t even remember how he got here. And he wasn’t sure what to do next. But he needed to do something. He licked his lips. “I’m thirsty,” Joe murmured. “So thirsty.”
“Thirsty, you say?” An older man, his skin tanned from the sun, walked toward Joe. “I’ve got just the thing for you.” He held out a small bottle of water.
“Twenty dollars, please,” the man said.
Joe shook his head. That’s steep for such a small bottle, he thought, but reached into his pocket for $20 anyway. “Wait,” said a young girl with a ponytail. “I’ve got a bigger bottle for eighteen dollars.”
Seemed like a better deal.
As Joe rose, a man in tattered sandals darted in between. “No, no,” he said. “My water is better. It’s from a nearby spring.”
“Don’t fall for that,” a bright voice shouted across the sand. “His spring water is the same as the rest of theirs. And her water,” she said, pointing at the young girl, “is still way overpriced.”
Joe turned to the bright voice. “You sell water too? I’m dying of thirst.”
“I do, but I‘m thinking water is the least of your problems,” she said. “What are you doing out here anyway?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m honestly not sure,” he stammered.
“Well,” she continued, “is this where you want to be?”
“No,” he said. He knew that much. He definitely didn’t want to be here.
“Well, then let’s go,” she said. “You’ll be less thirsty if we get out of the desert. I’ll get some water while we talk about where you want to go. I’m Brooke, by the way.” She stuck out her hand.
Joe shook her hand vigorously with what little energy he had left. He knew this was the best idea he’d heard yet. “I can’t thank you enough,” he said, as he pulled out his wallet.
Selling water to someone who is thirsty is simple, right? Not necessarily. In this case, Joe was thirsty, but that was only part of the issue. Had the first three people he encountered taken the time to help Joe analyze his situation, they would have discovered that Joe not only needed water but, more importantly, needed help figuring out why he was there and where to go.
Salespeople often miss the big opportunity because they fail to expand the conversation beyond making the simple sale. They miss additional opportunities to provide strategic value to their customers, helping them determine why they are there and where they need to go.
Many times customers need more than a simple answer to an immediate problem—they need a way out of the desert. They need your full expertise, working together with them to identify and solve problems. They need a collaborative partner to help explore new paths.
Brooke differentiated herself by taking a Selling to Value (S2V) approach. She dug deeper and engaged Joe in a discovery process to uncover what was behind the need for water. This opened up opportunities to truly understand Joe’s unstated needs so she could bring real value to him. As a result, she was able to not only sell the water to quench his thirst but also to continue the dialogue of his underlying goals, offering a solution that created greater value for him, and bigger sales for her.
S2V is about advancing your customer’s business. What if we invested more of our energy in understanding the root of our customers’ problems, the challenges they are facing, where they want to go, the impact they want to make, and the value they are truly seeking?
What is your customer thirsty for right now? Water? Or a way out of the desert?