TALKING SALES 39: “It’s sales poker: Let your customer bet the value”

“How to discover genuine customer value” –  3 Minute interview by John Smibert. 

DJK-picIn this interview Dean Kelly tells us ‘value’ is relative to the clients alternative to your solution – and you need to ensure the client is the first to express the value of that solution – not you.


He goes on to say ‘client value’ is your differentiated contribution – but only as perceived by the client. That is why we need to ensure the client expresses it before we do.

How do we do that? Dean explains we need to treat the conversation like a poker game. You need to draw out the ‘perceived value’ from the customer. See the full interview below to learn more.


Dean Kelly is the Sales Deal Mechanic.




John: Welcome back! I’ve got with me Dean Kelly, Dean’s the deal mechanic. What’s a deal mechanic?

Dean: A deal mechanic pulls deals apart in their pre-existing form, and puts them back together to run more smoothly, create more value, and allow my clients to capture a greater share of the value that’s on the table.

John: Okay, that makes sense; you’re a sales deal mechanic.

Dean: Yes, sales deal mechanic.

John: Okay. Dean, I know you talk a lot about value in the context of the deal, and how important it is when it comes to negotiating the deal. It’s a hackneyed term. What do you mean by value? What’s your definition?

Dean: Good question, John. This is a question that comes up a lot, because people bandy around this concept of value. In my world I talk about value as being relative to the clients alternative to you. The client in any deal could go and do it themselves, they could do nothing, or they could be going with one of your, or many of your, competitors. So, to me value is your contribution, your differentiation relative to what they could get through any of those different, alternative strategies.

John: But it’s value from a perception of the client, within the context of their business; it’s not what you think it is.

Dean: Correct. And this is one of the biggest mistakes that are made by salespeople, that they come back and say “Oh, but I showcased my value to the client!” Well, you telling the client about the value is not the same as asking the client in the context of their business, and effectively putting a value on it in the context of their business. It’s very customer-orientated, it’s very much from the client’s perspective, and that’s the measure of value that I use as a deal mechanic.

John: And I’ve heard you talk about this in the terms of a poker game, so you really need the customer to express the value rather than you express the value.

Dean: Absolutely. Isn’t it one of the things… We are brought up in sales to think that selling is about how good you are at telling. And in actual fact, in the world of ‘Challenger’, selling is about asking. I mean, if we go through the story, I’ve got some coinage here to kind of use, if I’ve got my chips at the table, or you’ve got your chips, and we’re playing poker… For me to win a share of your money, where does the money have to move to?

John: Into the pot, of course.

Dean: Yes! So, I need to get you to put a value on our conversation, on the capability, on the ability to reduce the resourcing, or the ability to improve the total cost of ownership, or drive more rapid ROI. I need you to put a value on it, and in my conversation if I’ve got a $60 or a $60,000 or a six-million-dollar solution, I’m conscious that I must get a lot more than that on the table in value, so hence the value I create has to be created in your mind rather than me just throwing what I believe the value should be.

John: Okay. That’s a good definition, and I’ve always said it’s got to be the value from the customer’s perception. What you’re saying is that the customer actually has to express that before you ever express it. Don’t you tell the customer what the value is, make sure you draw the customer out on expressing what their value is.

Dean: Yes.

John: Great!. Love the concept – look forward to talking to you again!

Dean: Thank you, John!


  See more of the ‘TALKING SALES’ series here


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John leads three related organisations, Custell, Strategic Selling Group and Sales Masterminds APAC. These help B2B selling organisations, who recognise the need to transform their sales capability, to respond to the tsunami of change that is starting to wash over us all. He works with people who recognise that to survive they must more strategically support their customer in their buying journey - and understand that they must become specialists in the customer's domain in order to be of value to them. He also helps sales teams build differentiated personal brands and leverage the digital and social worlds to engage to create trust and value.

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