We are getting increasingly academic about the words we use to describe persuading a customer to choose us for reasons larger than price alone. Putting together a plan to establish real value that extends beyond pricing might start with a reality check. Recently 114 dealer sales professionals and 202 customers of imaging dealers were surveyed to reveal some interesting information:

Reasons Dealers Say Customers Choose Them Reasons Customers Say They Choose Dealers
Relationship Pricing
Service Experience Brand
Service/Technology Capabilities Service Experience
Brand Service/Technology Capabilities
Pricing Relationship

The reasons customers chose a dealer and the reasons dealers thought they chose them were almost EXACTLY the opposite. Why? One reason is confirmation bias – the idea that dealer sales teams pay attention only to data that supports what they already believe.

Despite our commitment to the consultative sales process, pricing is still too often the runaway winner in the hierarchy of customer decision making. Does that mean the consultative selling that’s so integral to value creation doesn’t work?

In study after study of B2B buying behavior, there is a direct correlation between customers who evaluate first on pricing and an industry that leads with pricing in the sales process. Customers behave this way because the industry has taught them to behave this way. And despite your best efforts to elevate the sales process and the power of your solutions, in the trenches a transactional mindset rules too much of the day.

Avoiding the price decision and using consultative selling is about more than great sales management and training. It is about culture. People certainly don’t buy Apple phones because they are the cheapest. Or even because they have the best technology. People buy Apple phones because they feel like they are part of something bigger. An experience. A cultural coolness. A movement. Consumers see real value in having the brand in their pockets and in their lives. And how are Apple’s profits these days? Apple didn’t achieve this only because of great sales technique or technological innovation. They also built a culture that people want a piece of.

That’s the kind of culture office products businesses should aim for, the kind that makes customers feel they are part of something they need to be a part of. But too many dealers are selling devices, not solving problems.

The solution starts with a clear definition of who you want to be. Dealers who want the culture that delivers maximum value should spend time thinking about how to get that real expertise to market.

We find that the smartest dealers still talk about pricing instead of insights about how to lower costs and operate more efficiently. Remember, customers do what you train them to do. When marketing is based on transactional thinking, the first thing even the most brilliant, value-driven consultants have to do is change the customer’s mindset about the company. Dealers in this situation should consider company direction, messaging, and marketing and then take a look at the sales team. The key here is to build a process – an experience – the sales team can bring clients through all the way to service delivery.

There is no easy way to change the price-first mindset of customers. But it’s critical for creating a value-focused culture that helps to drive continued enterprise growth. At LEAF, we help dealers think bigger about their sales process and look for unique ways to create value. From custom invoicing to flexible finance structures, we leverage our decades in the business to create better customer experiences that are built for the long run.