Archive for the 'Pricing' Category

Mastering the Complex Sale, Exceptional Selling , The Prime Solution , by Jeff Thull.



Cover of "Mastering the Complex Sale: How...


Mastering the Complex Sale, Exceptional Selling , The Prime Solution , by Jeff Thull.  2010,  2006,  2005.  This set of books which detail the Complex Sale process from the point of view of  delivering value are easily the most completely thought out approach I have read to date on selling value.


Thull starts with a a simple idea, that sellers /solutions need to tie their offer into solving valuable real measurable business problems , from the customers point of view to enable real measurable value outcomes .  Like any simple idea, the details of delivery have far reaching impacts on sellers and customers.  He has many phrases which stick with you,  like always going for the no,  spectacular success comes from unspectacular  preparation,  no problem/pain no sale,  no surprises, the salesperson is like a doctor.


Thulls four separate steps are


  1. Discovery
  2. Diagnosis
  3. Design
  4. Deliver


But the devil is  in the details.   Thull provides the details needed tofill in this framework.   This approach has the potential to set any seller far away from the pack of competitors as well as making  customer relationships very competitor proof.   Of any approach, this one truly recognizes the uniqueness of very customer and how to ensure the customer gets that value as well as recognizes it. This is a  transformative process not only for the customer but the sellers organization as well.   A must have for if you are the complex sales marketplace.


Value as a Service: Embracing the Coming Disruption. Rob Bernshteyn.

English: Fee Glacier (Feegletscher) above Saas...

Value as a Service: Embracing the Coming Disruption. Rob Bernshteyn. 2016. ISBN 9781626343054.  The author proposes that just as SaaS followed and beat  client/server and is now unexceptional , than Value as a Service (VaaS) will come next.  This is where the vendor offers and prices his service based on the value delivered to the client.  This requires a value driven partnership with client and vendor.   Since selling value is the  trend in modern sales, this  author makes  sense.  He admits it is not a rapid transition as many firms are still just working out SaaS, but it is inevitable for successful companies.  You can see this progression in Thull’s, Mastering the Complex Sale for example. Our firm certainly believes in this process as a winner.  A needed book for the successful sales manager and CEO

Finders & Keepers. How the world’s most powerful customer is changing everything. Rob Schlyecher.

Trader Joe's interior in Union Square in New Y...

Finders & Keepers. How the world’s most powerful customer is changing everything. Rob Schlyecher.2015. ISBN 9780994059307. The book is an application of work by Christopher Norton and the authors company Spring Advertising on the market vertical called the New Economic Order, or as the author calls it Finders. Finders are less than half the population, yet control 75% of the discretionary spending.  Keepers (bargain hunters, sit on their wallets and thus have a very small part of the spending).  If your product is too often all about the price ( Cars, real estate, commodities) then you are talking ot the Keepers. In other word, a race to the bottom.  Finders are foodies, love the artisan, look for out of the way shops,  love the authentic experience. Finders will often pay full retail as they respect the product value. Eg Lululemon, Subaru, iPhone, Trader Joe’s, Brew pubs, Vinyl records.  Keepers love WalMart. The premise is very easy to grasp, but the application can be difficult if your company is not Finder friendly or oriented.  Worthwhile book to read, and clearly written ( They must write good copy at Spring) . Every marketer should read this one., if only for the fascinating case studies.

Buying Customers. Bradley J. Sugars

English: Customers buying up tea before the pr...

Buying Customers. Bradley J. Sugars.  2012. ISBN 9780692017210. The author seems a prolific writer in the area of business coaching.  This book is an easy read , yet it contains enough nuggets of real value to make it worth the read.  It is especially useful if you are an accidental marketing or sales person, coming into these disciplines with little formal training.  I found that although it was extremely and immediately valuable in B2C sales,  there is some very good material for B2B. His website is  And he takes his own medicine on his website .

Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success. Connect with customers and get results. Colleen Stanley.

Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success. Connect with customers and get results. Colleen Stanley.2013. ISBN 9780814430293. I admit I am one of those dinosaurs that has been discounting the role of EQ in sales.  Over the past few years I have been asked to review books on EQ and…… I never did it.  (Stupid , stupid,  stupid )  Boy was I wrong and wow is this book ever bang on. If you wanted to describe someone with poor impulse control, that would be me when I first started selling. This just may be the 2013 sales book of the year. Stanley wraps up so much of what we know about selling in today’s market with thoughtful , insightful,  useful and funny strategies and tactics. I expect you will have as much fun as I did reading this book – its not preachy its direct and on the money.  The quotes are worth the price of the book. I defy any sales person or manager with a brain to read this book and not immediately start to sell more for more.  Get it read it , use it and read it again. Pass it along to your team.   If it makes a difference send 1% of your increased bonus to a good charity!

Negotiating with Backbone. Eight Sales Strategies to Defend Your price and Value. Reed K. Holden.

CORAL GABLES, FL - FEBRUARY 10:  Verizon sales...

Negotiating with Backbone. Eight Sales Strategies to Defend Your price and Value. Reed K. Holden. 2012. ISBN 9780133064766. The author is an experienced salesperson who is also a serious academic researcher on pricing. His premise for this clearly written book is that procurement departments are becoming increasingly important and skilled in getting as much value for as little as possible from suppliers.  This book is is attempt to level the field.  He does the sales profession two great services.   First he identifies the types of buyers  ( Price, Relationship, Value and Poker Players)  and gives you a how-to guide to negotiate with each of them.  Second he stresses where you have strengths ( Advantages Player – you bring value) or not (The Rabbit – pricing roadkill), which gives a good salesperson the knowledge of when to walk away from the deal.  He closes by noting that the situation will just become more aggressive and sales teams need to become better skilled in this.  We agree and are finding that scenario based selling tools ( using Holden with Docters Contextual Pricing ideas)  are helping our clients quickly regain stronger margins and better sales.   This book is a must buy and read for sales managers and top performing sales people.

The Challenger Sale. Taking control of the customer conversation. Matthew Dickson & Brent Adamson.


The Challenger Sale. Taking control of the customer conversation. Matthew Dickson & Brent Adamson.   2011. ISBN 9781591844358.  Neil Rackham (SPIN Selling) called this the most important advance in selling for many years. The result of serious research into what is working in sales ( even in a down market) , they authors found that Challengers (Who bring  insight and value to clients) vastly outperform Relationship Sellers.  You will recognize  their other categories (Lone Wolf – we know this one well, The Reactive Problem Solver   and The Hard Worker,  This tells us that much of the sales training used today will not cut it going forward.   On top of this they found that for sales managers, focused coaching and innovation in selling (unsticking the deals ) are the two top manager attributes for building high performing teams ( way way above “managing”)

This is a must buy book for the top and mid producers in your organization and all Sales Leaders.   So far it is my sales book of the year.   There are no fluff chapters or wasted lines.  Read and reread it.   Another blow for value selling and effective sales.

Contextual Pricing. The death of list price and the new market reality. Rob Docters, John G. Hansen, Cecilia Nguyen & Michael Barzelay.


Contextual Pricing. The death of list price and the new market reality. Rob Docters, John G. Hansen, Cecilia Nguyen & Michael Barzelay. 2012. ISBN 9780071772464.  New, exciting , easy to read and useful. This is a resource for anyone working with pricing in any industry.  I have been working with value pricing for a year now and was wondering about a hybrid response to pricing.  This book has given me a big chunk of the answer.  If you are finding that  cost based or competition based pricing does not give you the tools to get out from under discounting, than value pricing  is  one step.  Now coupled with contextual pricing you can take some great big steps.  Value pricing shows your sales guys how to explain to customers how all your products values/attributes/benefits add up to more than the price asked. Contextual pricing helps you gain understanding of buyer context.  This  allows marketing/sales to develop pricing scenarios for common market situations (rush, size, market power, geography, competition, trade show). These become part of a salesperson’s toolkit, reducing complexity while speeding responsiveness. And I love it , increasing prices while increasing speed, shortening cycles, reducing sales costs!  A must buy for sales and marketing leaders. You will thank me ( the case studies are worth the book) – but it will take some work to get this going.

Pricing Strategies.A marketing approach. Robert M. Schindler.

The Ecole Supérieure de Commerce of Paris (now...

Pricing Strategies.A marketing approach. Robert M. Schindler. 2012. ISBN 9781412964746.  Written as a business school textbook, this is a very useful reference book for all. The dive is deep but the author takes good care of you as he guides you through quite a comprehensive look at all aspects of pricing. I was taken with his simple description that in a negotiated price situation, value is determined by how well your product satisfies all your customers needs.  A salesman is best situated to assess, extract  and match those needs to the product offering such that the overall value provided exceeds the price asked.  You will appreciate Schindler’ s framework for differentiation of customer needs. They range from objective ,aesthetic/hedonic, social, reliability, and product convenience needs.  The book makes good use of current case studies where he names names and describes the results

Value-Added Distribution Services That Strengthen Customer Relations. Guest Post by Derek Singleton

Freight Wing-Interstate Distributor Co.6
Image by TruckPR via Flickr

Value-Added Distribution Services That Strengthen Customer Relations

Guest Post by Derek Singleton

Derek approached me after I reposted some of his very good content on adding value. After reading this, head over to his website and see his other good advice.  Reg

Distributors always have a host of pressures to contend with. For instance, the industry is constantly grappling with fierce competition and rising fuel prices. Under these conditions, it’s becoming more important than ever to maintain customer relationships. Like other industries, one of the ways that distributors can strengthen their customer relationships is by offering value-added services.

But what services should distributors offer? Customers have a whole laundry list of services they’d like to see added. These services range from providing consultations to managing customer inventory. Of course, distributors can’t provide all of these services. They have to pick and choose which they’ll provide. I’d like to highlight three value-added services the industry should consider providing their customers.

1. Vendor Managed Inventory

Vendor managed inventory (VMI) is a concept first popularized by Walmart. Under a VMI system, the distributor assumes responsibility for keeping their customer’s inventory levels stocked at optimal levels. While this is a complex undertaking, advancements in web-based software and mobile capabilities are making it easier to manage inventory on a customer’s behalf. As an example, a distributor at their customer’s location can access their their software with their smart phone and initiate a new purchase order to restock inventory levels.

2. Delayed Product Assembly

Distributors that work with manufacturers have an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction by delaying product assembly. Distributors get great discounts by purchasing component parts in bulk and assembling the product as orders come in. However,  managing product assembly can be tricky. To effectively manage delayed assembly, distributors should rely on the bill of materials (BOM) functionality in their wholesale distribution software. A bill of materials allows distributors to track the components parts, item numbers and proper packaging specification to ensure that final assembly is done correctly.

3. Improve e-Commerce Support

In the digital age, more and more retail are operations are asking distributors for help in fulfilling online orders. Supporting online sales distributors shifts the traditional dynamic of distribution operations by shortening delivery times and increasing the number of shipments. To handle the demand of fulfilling online sales, distributors need to focus on integrating their system with their customer’s. This allows distributors to receive orders instantaneously and to pick, pack and ship these orders in the most efficient way possible. Of course, it’s also possible to fulfill online orders through manual methods but these have a large efficiency gap compared to automated systems.

These are just a few of my ideas on how distributors can improve their customer relationships. If you’d like to see an expanded list of value-added services, please visit the Software Advice website to view the original article at: How Distributors Can Improve Relationships with ValueAdded Services.

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