Applying R-Value-PIE to your Sales Approach
I recently wrote about Selling in a Crisis and recommended a framework I call R–Value–PIE (“our value pie”). If you haven’t seen that post, feel free to check it out for the additional details, but here is a summary of the framework.
Act in ways that foster trust and demonstrate an “other-centered” mindset and approach.
Uncover what your buyer values and work to deliver value from their perspective.
Don’t product-pitch or pounce on your buyer at the first sign of a need. Slow down. Ask questions. Gather more facts. Connect dots.
Communicate your intentions clearly and often to help your buyers know that you have their best interest at heart.
Consider your buyer’s feelings, thoughts, and perspectives, and let them know you acknowledge and understand them.
In this post, I’ll share how to apply the R-Value-PIE principles when you’re selling.
- If you can conduct pre-call research to determine the company’s situation or response to their current state, whatever it may be, it will help you personalize your approach and reduce your risk of seeming tone-deaf.
- Be patient. Be kind. Go slowly. Follow your prospect’s lead.
- Incorporate excellent communication skills throughout your approach, to make the interaction conversational. Have a dialogue.
- State your helpful intentions clearly.
- As possible, assess the emotional state of the person. Expect some tension and be sensitive to the fact that not everyone will want to share.
- Acknowledge the person with empathy. Use “You statements” versus “I statements.”
- Share the value you typically deliver and ask permission to explore if you can help.
- Assess the current state of the company:
- Probe for problems you can solve.
- Peel the onion for clarification and see if you can help.
- Adapt and respond accordingly:
- If you can help, help! In times like these, it’s negligent not to try to help any way you can.
- If you can’t help, can you provide support somehow or refer them to someone who can?
- If neither, move on, kindly. Find someone with problems you can solve.
Below is one of many possible examples.
Example – Applying R-Value-PIE
Hi [Name], this is Mike from SPARXiQ. Thanks for taking my call.
As I talk with other [role] like you, I’m seeing companies fall somewhere along a sliding scale, relative to the impact from the pandemic lockdown.
Where does your company fall on that spectrum, [Name]?
[Listen | Acknowledge | Clarify | Summarize | Confirm]
And how are you faring and coping with all of this, [Name]?
Listen | Acknowledge | Clarify | Summarize | Confirm]
Value Story / Permission to Explore
[If it makes sense to continue…]
Thank you for sharing that, [Name].
Problems: Improving the health of a business is not easy work, especially in challenging times like these, but the concepts are simple and straightforward: Improve lagging revenue, increase shrinking profit margins, decrease mounting costs, and reduce business risk.
Outcomes: We work on both sides of that revenue/cost equation. Operations leaders turn to us to help them add an extra 100-400 basis points quickly to their bottom line. Sales leaders work with us to improve sales effectiveness and increase top-line revenue, profitably.
Solutions: Given what you’ve shared, I’d guess that a focus on cost control and risk reduction will be most helpful in the short-term, then shifting to sales effectiveness to prepare for the most significant lift possible, as we move into an economic recovery phase.
Explore: Am I right in that, [Name], and does it make sense to explore that further?
As mentioned, this is just one possible approach. There are others, and no approach will work with everyone. Test, adapt, and adjust as needed.
To continue, you would now either segue into Discovery to further assess their situation or schedule a better time to do it.
In this case, we applied R-Value-PIE principles and loosely used our POSE (Problem, Outcome, Solution, Explore) model for prospecting – although not in its typical fashion with real pre-pandemic numbers. We would, of course, have that information (and any relevant case studies) ready, if the prospect wanted more information about how we’ve helped similar companies in the past.
Throughout your approach, your prospects are likely to express a variety of concerns, especially under the current stressful circumstances. Not only will you want to anticipate and prepare for that wisely, but you’ll also want to approach resolving their concerns with the same “other-centered,” caring methods as you have with your R-Value-PIE prospecting.
Disinterest is our term for indifference or “I’m not interested.” (Somehow, we’ve categorized all customer concerns into words that begin with D.)
In our current crisis, disinterest may be valid or at least very difficult to resolve. Below is the model we typically recommend. Use your best judgment for when to apply it, and when to respectfully step back to nurture the prospect or contact another decision maker at the account (based on your perception of the validity of the disinterest and their current business circumstances).
The Model for Addressing Disinterest
- Acknowledge the buyer’s response with empathy
- Clarify to uncover whether their disinterest is authentic or a defensive smokescreen
- Explore whether there’s a path forward:
– Conduct a targeted, mini discovery to explore their situation for dissatisfactions or problems you can solve
– Use POSE (or a different POSE, if your first model didn’t create interest) and reassess interest
- Recommend a path forward
– Explore further by setting an appointment (E from POSE)
- Confirm the buyer agrees and proceed accordingly
While Disinterest occurs very frequently during prospecting, buyers may raise other concerns at any stage of the buying/sales process. We believe Disinterest requires special handling, as shown above, but here is how we categorize the other concerns and suggest resolving them:
Definitions (The D Words)
- It’s a Disbelief concern when a customer doubts you, distrusts the information you’ve provided, or otherwise expresses skepticism.
- It’s a Distortion concern when, for whatever reason, the prospect has incorrect or incomplete information, or is making an inaccurate assumption, which is creating a false worry. Distortion is a misunderstanding.
- It’s a Disadvantage concern when the customer has a valid issue (at least from their perspective), due to the presence of something they dislike or the absence of something they want. It’s only a Disadvantage when it’s real and can’t be changed.
- It’s a Disqualifier concern when you have overestimated NASA (Need and Solution Alignment) or got the qualifying FACTs wrong (Funding, Alternatives, Committee, and Timing).
And, here is our model for resolving these remaining concerns.
The Model for Resolving Concerns
Acknowledge the concern by using empathy
- Acknowledge, here, means to recognize their concern and demonstrate that they’ve been heard. Acknowledging their concerns doesn’t mean you agree with them.
- Empathy: It’s about them, not you. Avoid “I” statements (such as “I understand”) and use “You” statements instead.
Clarify to fully understand the concern
- Understand: Question to understand (make no assumptions).
- Weigh: Try to assess how big of a concern it is.
- Explore: Use this as an opportunity to uncover other concerns.
- See the definitions above for “D” words, when categorizing the concerns of buyers.
Respond (possibly in 2 parts)
- If needed, step back and request time to do the necessary research and fact-gathering, allowing you to develop the best response based on the category and reply appropriately
- If you have the information and expertise needed, simply deliver the most appropriate response in-the-moment (Important note: by following the process, not by just firing off a response)
Develop the best response based on the category
Use your best judgment and experience to respond based on your deep understanding of the concern and the topic.
Responses for Each Category
- Disbelief: Offer relevant proof
- Distortion: State their need and share the real facts (don’t just correct them)
- Disadvantage: Weigh their concern against other requirements or possible outcomes. Is it a complete deal-breaker or can they move forward?
- Disqualifier: Gain agreement to re-explore. Ask questions to validate NASA & FACT. Confirm if there is a path forward or not
I have the same thought here as I mentioned under “General Advice.” I know it’s written/presented this way (with the vertical line separator) for a reason, but it doesn’t translate the way it’s intended when reading. Maybe we can play for visually formatting this info another way when it’s added on the website?
Confirm whether your response resolved the concern
Summarize and ask if you’ve resolved their concern.
- Disbelief/Distortion: Is the information you provided sufficient?
- Disadvantage: When weighing the disadvantage versus all the positive outcomes, is it enough to derail a purchase decision?
- Disqualifier: Is your buyer willing to step back (re)explore with you?
– Change budget expectations
– Involve the right decision makers
– Adjust timing expectations
– Other creative options?
For more background on R-Value-PIE, here is the previous post: Selling in a Crisis
For more on resolving concerns, you can view a complimentary, one-hour webinar on the model at SMM Connect, here. You need to complete a one-time, free registration to SMM Connect to view the webinar, but you will then also be able to download the slides (and register to watch other live and recorded sales webinars).
Once you register for SMM Connect, you will also see a webinar, titled, The Renewed Importance of Relationships in the Age of High-Tech. This is on our Sales Enablement Straight Talk™ webinar channel. The concepts discussed in this session by my colleague Doug Wyatt, sales author Anita Nielsen, and I, also apply to B2B selling in our current situation.
Go Forth & Sell with a Slice of R-Value-PIE!
I can’t remember a more challenging time for our profession, our industry, our companies, our country, or our world. Times like these force us to rethink our approach to selling and business in general.
In many ways, minus any references to the pandemic or lockdown, I believe that this is how we should be selling anyway to modern buyers. It’s time that we evolve entirely to use a buyer-centric, value-focused, outcome-oriented sales methodology – one that both maximizes our “human differentiators” and elevates our sales profession.
I wish you the greatest success in experimenting with R-Value-PIE, POSE, and our buyer-centric models for addressing disinterest and resolving concerns. If you need more help, you know where to find me. Be safe and stay healthy!