Funny question. The answer seems so obvious, right?  True that when it comes to tangible stuff with clear intrinsic attributes which are, well, easy to value.  Gold goes for $1,390 as of 3:16 pm Eastern time today, and we all know why. It's a commodity, a scarce one at that, and gold here, same as gold where you are. Obvious. 

But what about intangible stuff?  How valuable is fame, how valuable is professional success, leadership, or maybe a strategy? Well, we also know that depends on who is doing the buying and why, which means that value is in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty. So putting a price on some things is tricky.  How much were you looking to pay for that success? And maybe price is not really an issue when a strategy for turning around your $15b company is the goal and its your head if that strategy does not work in the next 18 months, so that will cost you $6m, few questions asked.

So why am I asking such a simple question?

In our research with business and IT executives we ask them simple questions, like what's valuable to them, and they are quite clear.  And their answers tend toward the intangibles versus the tangibles. For example, when we ask, "What would you consider to be a valuable meeting with a vendor salesperson?" the number one reply is "The salesperson clearly shows they understand my business issues and can clearly articulate to me how to solve them." That's an intangible value forged in the cauldron of empathy, credibility, expertise, experience. Also obvious, but perhaps not so easy to deliver.

To judge how those conversations are going, between salespeople and executives, we also asked the executives, "Thinking of a situation where you were initially interested in what a vendor was talking to you about, but you changed your mind. What were some of the reasons why?" In a parallel survey, we asked sales reps the same question from their perspective: Why did they believe the sale did not happen after initial client interest? And lo and behold the answer is not so obvious.

From the executives' perspective, the reason that 51% of respondents picked (after "we bought from someone else", ouch) is "I could not envision how the value would be delivered."

From the reps perspective, that reason was only picked by 18%, meaning most thought they had already made that value and how it would be delivered clear.  Instead, what sellers most often believed was the case is that the buyer "struggled to get others on board internally" at 45%, a challenge only 22% of executives cited for not buying after initial interest.

Interpretation: Executive buyers and sellers are not on the same page. Sellers believe that they are communicating value, but buyers are not sold! Sellers believe that buyers can't make the case internally, but buyers don't agree.  

What to do?  These value-seeking buyers will be the focus of a Webinar we are running on June 26th at 11:00 am Eastern time. The key: Start with a deeper understanding of your prospective buyers and what they find valuable before deciding what to talk to them about and who to send their way to do that.  Please register and plan to join the conversation.