Luck or Skill? What the Gambling Debate has to do With Your Value Conversations

By Corporate Visions

August 10, 2015

By Melissa Hereford, VP of product marketing and sales enablement, Corporate Visions

Casinos: You either love ‘em or hate ‘em.

Some tout them as job producers, economic engines and consistent providers of flat-out good times. Others demonize them for fueling addictive behavior, preying on the vulnerable and driving up crime.

But, it turns out that the polarizing nature of casinos doesn’t end with just the proponents and naysayers. There’s even a growing divide within the gambling community itself between those attracted to games based on luck—think casino mainstays like slots and roulette—and those looking for skill to be a factor.

This divide is largely generational, according to a Planet Money report by David Kestenbaum, citing data that suggest only two percent of people playing slots are under 35.

While the virtue of luck may be on the downswing in the gambling world, it appears to be holding its ground in sales. Our latest survey, detailed in this infographic, found that many companies are essentially leaving their sales conversations to chance by failing to ensure their salespeople are proficient with their message. Polling more than 500 business-to-business marketers and sales professionals, we found that:

  • While 85 percent of respondents say their sales team’s ability to articulate value messages is the single most critical factor to closing deals…
  • Only 41 percent of companies ask their salespeople to practice their message using either stand-and-deliver or role-play scenarios. The rest have no expectation that salespeople will actually demonstrate proficiency with the story…
  • And, just 9 percent have any requirement to capture practice presentations on camera for coaching and certification purposes.

Like a big bet at the casino, there’s a whole lot riding on your sales conversations. So what can you do to ensure your team relies on skill instead of luck to communicate value? Here are some pointers to help your team excel at the three value conversations that appear in every sales cycle:

  • Tell a powerful “why change” story (Create Value™): Telling a story that vividly and convincingly shows prospects why they should do something different is vital to defeating arguably your most staunch adversary—no, not your competitors, but your buyer’s status quo. By delivering the right types of insights, and by introducing prospects to their unconsidered needs, you’ll be able to topple the status quo while creating distance between you and the competition.
  • Make your business case (Elevate Value™): Research firm IDC found that 80 percent of business-to-business decisions are made by decision makers with vice president or higher titles. Once you’ve got that ideal, executive-level buyer in front of you, you have to deliver a business value conversation—not a product presentation—that demonstrates the business impact of your solution, frees up the budget for an opportunity and justifies customer investment.
  • Exchange value—don’t give it away (Capture Value™): Believe it or not, your pricing doesn’t just take a hit at the end of the sales cycle. In reality, the perceived value of your solution has been leaking out all along, as buyers ask for things (demos, early price concessions, meetings, etc.) and you give them away. A better approach: Try executing pivotal agreements,or milestones that you can use to exchange value as your deals advance. These agreements can give you leverage for preserving the value of your deals, and they’ll help protect your pricing from the value leaks that erode your margins.

With so much on the line, you’re going to need more than a little luck on your side. To guarantee that your team articulates value at the level you need it to, it’s going to come down to power of your skills—practiced, coached and certified by qualified messaging experts.