Learning from your own mistakes is an effective way to grow.
But you know what is even better? Learning from other people’s mistakes.
It’s easier, less painful and you can reach your growth targets faster.
Selling custom software development projects is one of those areas where most people learn from their own mistakes.
I’ve seen it first hand with many companies. And it also happened to me.
I’ve spent years trying to find solutions to various problems and challenges I faced when dealing with potential customers. It usually meant experimenting with different ways of presenting the options to customers, various templates and formats for project proposals.
Somehow, I managed to stumble upon a way that worked and was successful.
The problem is that I keep discovering methods and frameworks that were documented many years ago, which would have helped me a lot. It would have saved me months and years of experimentation.
Why is selling services so difficult
Because most of the time you have to create a proposal that is unique to each customer’s situation. You have to take into account their requests.
You have to incorporate in your estimations and project plans any and all the information provided by them, which usually comes in different formats and with different levels of details.
A lot of times, you also need to involve multiple members of the team, to provide input, feedback and opinions. This takes time, making the quoting process too long.
It’s a pain for those team members, as they would rather work on the projects or the technical activities they are responsible for.
And you have to do all this while somehow walking in the dark, because you don’t know who the competition is on each project and what they are going to offer.
The consequence is that most of the time you negotiate yourself into deals that could have had a much better outcome for you.
When faced with this types of complex, difficult situations, you basically have 3 options:
- Do nothing to change or improve
- Try to re-invent the wheel
- Apply proven methods
If you choose 1, you can stop reading, no need to learn anything new.
2 is a good option if you think you can invent a much better wheel. It’s necessary if you really need to invent a better wheel. Most of the time, you don’t.
If you choose 3, this is a list of sales methods and frameworks that can be applied in the context of software services:
- Target Account Selling
- SPIN Selling
- The Challenger Sale
- Consultative Selling
- Sandler Selling System
- and Value Selling
After 9 years in this industry, hundreds of project proposals presented to potential clients, more than one hundred contracts won and delivered, the clear winner for me is Value Selling.
Value Selling, the very short version
The Value-Added Selling book was first published in 1984.
Values-Based Selling: The Art of Building High-Trust Client Relationships was published in 1996.
While there are some differences between these two (of course there are, they have different authors), for all intents and purposes, we can put them in the same bucket – it’s about selling value, not price or hours.
Value Selling forces you as a vendor to focus the conversation on the value you create for your customers and to be very specific about that value.
The unexpected consequence is that it actually simplifies the sales process and leads to faster results.
These are the main steps in a sales process run according to Value Selling:
Qualify your prospect.
Ask the right questions.
Position your capabilities in the context of client issues.
Communicate and quantify the value.
Agree on a plan together with the potential client.
Close the sale.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU
You need to read about Value Selling.