Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ram Charan's "What The Customer Wants You To Know"

Ram Charan's publisher sent me a copy of his latest book "What The Customer Wants You To Know" which breaks down how to look at Sales and business development. The process illustrated is Value Creation Selling(VCS).

This process where the salespeople lead a multidisciplined team to gather a deeper look at where value can be added for the customer. Whereas the older views of sales competions are trying to beat one another on price alone. This attempts to provide a better picture of customer's needs and how to generate business.

There are 8 Chapters:

1. The Problem of Sales
Today is more competitive and a new way of finding opportunities is required.

2. Fixing the Broken Sales Process
Sales alone cannot do VCS it will require changes with Sales leading the efforts to collaborate with the customer on many levels within the client side and the vendor side.

3. How to Become Your Customer's Trusted Partner
Information is the heart of VCS. Study the customer and the customer's competitors. Know how decisions are made in the customer's organization.

4. The Value Account Plan
The VAP is a template completed by the salesperson to define the value propostion and business benefits the customer can expect to get from it. "A company that is selling value-creating solutions uses value pricing, which is different". Salespeople may have a psychological blockage about premium pricing. They are used to customers driving hard on price--and losing deals because of it" With value pricing, the price can be determined at some point where both the client and vendor benefit.

5. Developing the Value Creation Sales Force
This will require great changes to the Sales force. The salesperson will require affability, conceptualizing problems and solutions, leadership, tenacity and business acumen. Training, communicating successes and measuring progress will be required to ensure that VCS takes successfully.

6. Making the Sale
Once the VAP is made it must be presented carefully to the client. Again, both technical and operational members will be required to provide the appropriate vision to the client.

7. Sustaining the Process
Drive the process with reviews and link compensation to success with VCS.

8. Taking Value Creation Selling to the Next Level
Keep on working with VCS, it is a difficult journey but those who make it will be amply rewarded.

Charan has provided a new look at sales than the old sales funnel approach which is multifaceted which seems to make sense to ferret out newer opportunities in today's highly competitive and complex market. A disciplined and detailed approach should provide the vendor with better ways to serve the client's needs.