It’s Not the Price; It’s the Leadership Mix

Published on April 1, 2009

Win with your unique mix of services and features

‘Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way’ – Excerpt #4  Why Wouldn’t You Sell This Way? 

For the past 20 years, I have been speaking to, advising, and coaching sales organizations of all sizes all around the world. Our clients have added at least half a billion dollars in incremental revenues by implementing this concept of leading with the outcome. In all of these situations, we never once changed the features of a company’s product or service. We only changed the outcome. You work for a company that already has a respectable product or service. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t be working there; the company would be out of business. The question, then, is a simple one: How do you communicate your value and differentiate yourself from the competition? The answer is just as simple: by selling like a leader does, by leading with the outcome. 

Top-producing sales reps know that there is little competitive differentiation to be found in one’s feature set. Those words may make marketing managers and technical departments cringe, but they nevertheless reflect the realities of the current market. Given today’s astonishingly efficient information technology, the truth is that once you present a new feature, it will only take a short amount of time for the competition to find out what you’re offering, reverse-engineer a competing offering, and start marketing their own version. How do you win that game? The Leadership MixTrue differentiation from your competition comes by providing what I call the leadership mix. This is the unique mix of your features, services, quality, delivery, and leadership. 

== The leadership mix is what wins the game. You need a different mix for each customer and each prospect. That means that no two sales you close as a leader are going to be alike, or even similar.  

People buy for different reasons because they’re seeking different outcomes. Our customers are looking to buy something that will support the unique outcomes that they are after.  Leaders focus on the outcomes, and then they concentrate on the unique combination of features, services, quality, delivery, and coalition-building skills — the leadership mix — that will deliver the greatest value in achieving those outcomes.  And that’s not all! Leaders get people to experience those outcomes ahead of time, internally, before they actually occur. They use the leadership mix that they bring to any given situation as a tool — not simply for creating a single deal, but for establishing something much more important: a shared vision of the future. == “The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible. For the fainthearted, it is unknown. For the thoughtful and valiant, it is the ideal.” — Victor Hugo 

The mix you offer must become an offering in itself. Your sale can no longer revolve purely around features that people believe they can get elsewhere, or pricing that they believe they can beat by a tenth of a cent by shopping your bid around. The magic is in the mix! Once you can do a better job of identifying a customer’s desired outcomes, you can do a better job of creating the mix that will be perceived as most valuable in creating those outcomes — regardless of the dollar price that is connected to your offer. You can do a better job of persuading decision makers that even though they can get similar features from other sources, there is no other source that provides the same mix — the same comprehensive, multi-faceted plan for the future — that you do. 

To create this kind of plan, you have to engage your prospects or customers in conversations about what is or could be possible — even when there is no short-term need for what you are selling. That’s actually the best possible time to start making the sale! You’ll discover why later on. . . . Your job is to align your purpose (outcomes) with the vision (outcomes) of the customer. Outcomes revolve around needs, fears, concerns, and desires. So that’s what leaders talk about — not price or features! 

Order Your Copy at a Great Discount Now  Don’t Waste Time! Most salespeople usually don’t sell from a position of leadership, and, as a result, end up wasting not only the customer’s time, but their own precious time as well. 

For instance, asking people what product or service they’re using in a way that does not connect to any possible customer benefit is a waste of everyone’s time. So is calling a potential customer and telling him that you will save him 10 percent, without even bothering to take the few minutes necessary to find out what’s important to him. Reciting a particular product’s list of features that your company drilled into you during product training — without having found any common ground with the prospect or customer — is a waste of everyone’s time. You can’t expect to lead with any of these strategies because they don’t connect to anything that’s important in the customer’s or prospect’s world. 

Leaders Don’t Get Sidetracked by PricePeople often don’t buy the cheapest service or product available. Have you always purchased the cheapest alternative? No! You know you paid more for some items, based on certain issues and benefits that were more important to you — for whatever reason than finding the item with the lowest price. When traveling by plane, some people pay extra for the benefits of first class; others don’t. While some frequent flyers know they will have a good shot at upgrading to first class on a lower-fare ticket just before the scheduled flight time, others may pay the significantly higher fare simply to guarantee the first-class seat. It’s that important to them. If you stop and think about it, you’ll realize that there are lots of things in your own life that are far more important to you than getting the lowest possible price. For instance, buying name-brand products instead of generic brands, renting a high-priced apartment so you can have just the right view from your living room window, or buying expensive, front-row tickets to an NBA game. 

——  Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ( from Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way: The 7 Traits of Great Sellers by Ron Karr.  Copyright © 2009 by Ron Karr.   To order the book on line at one of your favorite retailers, go to

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