The notion of “don’t try to sell the drill, sell the holes,” has been around for as long as I can remember. We’ve all heard it. We all “get” it. It’s the essence of selling value instead of selling price. In the heat of battle though, we often forget.
The lesson hit home again for me last week – twice. Once by a living, breathing example of company hell bent on selling “holes.” And again when I stumbled into a reference to “Service Dominant Logic” then read more about it in this article.
First the living example; the parade of interviews my partner and I did for a client who manufactures sewage treatment equipment. Fifteen different people. From the guy in the warehouse who picks and ships replacement parts to the CEO, the message was consistent. The words were all different, but every one of them stressed the importance of their own, personal role in making sure the customers’ machines kept running all day, every day for at least 20 years.
The products themselves got mentioned in passing. Helping the customer reach customer goals by doing whatever it takes was far and away their main focus.
The article, while a bit academic, provides excellent context for the notion of “Serve the customer first, well and always.” A few of its (slightly paraphrased) “foundational premises” make the point.
#1 – Service is the fundamental basis of exchange.
#3 – Products are merely a distribution mechanism for services.
#6 – The customer is always a co-creator of value.
#7 – The supplier cannot deliver value, but only the potential to create value. (That is, a supplier can provide resources, but value is created only when the supplier and customer collaboratively apply them.)
#10 – Value is always uniquely determined by the customer.
Re-read and think about that #7. Then you’ll be thinking like the sewage guys. Then you’ll be thinking like a sales professional.