My side hurt. Bad. I was doubled over in pain, waiting in the emergency room. After a brief exam and some X-rays, the diagnosis was in. My appendix was coming out. I was scheduled for emergency appendectomy surgery right away.
I hit the pause button.
I was certain I could save 20% by moving to another hospital. Fairview Southdale has a great reputation but they aren’t the lowest-cost provider of medical services in the marketplace. Not even close. Besides, this wasn’t super complex. We aren’t talking triple bypass surgery. It was a routine appendectomy. Any half-decent provider should be able to knock that out flawlessly. I also had questions about the after care. Once I consented, was I guaranteed world-class service and after care support? How was that defined? Did they draft a service level agreement with milestones?
I pushed back on my medical team. I asked to speak to administration. After all, this was my second procedure at Southdale in 6 months and I expected they would move the quote south by 20%. I was repeat business. So I asked. I wanted to move forward with the procedure at Fairview Southdale for 20% below the standard appendectomy rate. What’s up, Doc? Do we have a deal?
Does my approach seem reasonable?
Of course not. Sorry to disappoint, but the story is fiction. It never happened. Because I am not insane. However, that same insanity plays out in B2B and B2C sales conversations every single day. I hear about it every single week. I’ll set the record straight.
Customers do not buy on price.
I know it’s tough. We’re working in a marketplace that’s more transparent than ever before. Customers have unprecedented access to information on margin and price. I can also appreciate that your product, solution or service offers no compelling differentiation whatsoever. We are living in the era of product and service commoditization. However, there is one key difference maker that can protect your margins and drive demand. The difference maker?
In the era of the customer, what the customer is buying is access to you. You are the company! What can you do to differentiate and win? Here are a few specific thoughts:
A Forrester study predicts that of the 4.5 million B2B sales jobs in existence today, “one million jobs will be net displaced by 2020.”
The first 500,000 out the door will be the salespeople who cannot differentiate themselves as a critical part of the value proposition. On the other hand, the massive shift in customer expectations around the buying decision is providing unprecedented opportunity for world-class producers to win big.
Great salespeople are actually more relevant and valuable than ever before. Consultative salespeople are finding ways to provide new information, offer additional value and help customers think differently about the future. They’re experts about their products, competition, customers, category and are well-positioned to thrive into the future. They win on value and refuse to compete on price.
For the record, I did get the appendectomy at Fairview Southdale. I have no idea how much it cost.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.