Distribution Sales: Do You Personally Bring Any Value?

Why should a customer buy from you instead of a competing salesperson? At Reilly Sales Training, our Best Sales Practice research shows that the salesperson represents 25 percent of the total value of a solution. In other words, 25 percent of the reason a customer buys is because of the salesperson.

How much value do you personally create for your customers?

This is a gut-check question. It should cause salespeople to think. Too often, salespeople forget how much value they personally create. If salespeople forget, customers won’t remember either. In the absence of personal value, customers assume all salespeople are the same. Couple this with a commodity product and the customer will focus on price as the deciding factor.  

Some salespeople are concerned about the “Amazon-ization” of their business. Salespeople are concerned that online ordering and automated purchasing will replace them. Salespeople should harness their concern and shift that energy to value creation. A salesperson’s value has to be more compelling than one-click ordering.

A recent conversation with a sales leader demonstrates how important the salesperson’s value is to the customer. Mike is a VP of a large wholesale distributor. Mike was visiting customers with one of his salespeople. One of these customers had previously requested a 5 percent discount. This discount request was prompted by a competitor that offered a cheaper price. Here is how Mike handled the situation.

To the customer’s surprise, Mike began the meeting by saying, “We’d be happy to give you the 5 percent discount. We will adjust your pricing template as soon as we get back to the office. We will send you a follow-up confirmation to assure you the new pricing structure is implemented.” As you could imagine, the customer was very pleased.

The meeting continued and they addressed a few more topics. Mike summarized the key points of the meeting and before leaving said, “Thank you for your time. Oh, by the way…Since we are cutting our price, we’re also cutting the personal value that Scott provides you. The competitor you mentioned doesn’t offer local support. So, if you would like us to match their price, we’re also going to match their value.” He explained to the customer, “With a 5 percent discount we can longer afford to have Scott provide you with the personal value-added extras like twice-a-week visits, order facilitation, training, and warranty claims.”

Before Mike could finish his sentence, the buyer interrupted him, “You’ve made your point. Scott brings a lot of value and the last thing we would want is to lose that value. We’ll continue buying at our previous price.”

A value-added sale is equitable for both the customer and you. Just because you put the customer first doesn’t mean you put yourself last. Remind the customer of the personal value you bring. Never discount your personal value.


Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training, a St. Louis-based, privately owned company that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers, and service professionals. Call Paul at 636-778-0175 or email Paul@ReillySalesTraining.com.

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