An Insider’s View: How Sales Reps Can Earn “Surgeon Money”

Are you selling on value? Most sales reps think they are – but they aren’t! As a sales leader and proponent of a Value Management Office, I can tell you first hand there is a great divide between what is said and what is actually done around value selling—and that needs to change. Let me invite you into my inner circle for just a few minutes, as I share my unfiltered truth about selling, the notion of value, and where I think the future of value selling is going.


Selling in the past has been about finding or creating compelling events, working with senior executives to craft enterprise license agreements (ELA), and working on one large opportunity at a time per client. This type of selling often boiled down to Price and ELA Terms – not value.  Now, keep in mind I am painting with a big brush and this is certainly not true across the board.  However, for this blog post we will consider the historical sales process as being about creating financial leverageincluding full portfolios and giving large discounts based on certain in-quarter close dates.  This historical sales process has little to do with true value selling.


Selling today is changing as clients adopt a more buy-as-they-need approach to purchasing and capital allocations.  When clients buy as-they-need, it becomes a forcing function for reps to focus on value as a need, which naturally means price is a secondary concern.  However, need or value based selling is different as competition for that incremental dollar in expenditure by any one client means sales teams have to provide the greatest return on or value for said incremental dollar.


This single change in buying behavior has brought true value based selling to the top of the list when it comes to skills I look for when evaluating talent to add to the team. I believe it is no longer about who you know, but instead what you know. This means sales reps have to invest time in learning about their products, solutions, and clients.  They need to read financial reports, press releases, etc. since the best way to establish value is to speak in terms that the client can understand and appreciate. Value based selling rewards reps that treat the sales profession as just that—a profession—and not just another party where schmoozing is the number one skill.  Many sales reps are paid what I call “Doctor Money,” and the ones that invest and learn to value sell should make “Surgeon Money” if they work hard at it.


As for where I see sales going in the future, I believe value selling will morph into a multi-step value selling framework for many companies.  What I mean by that is they will have a framework for the initial sell which I call the “Can of Soda.”  Then there will be a second set to sell a 6-pack of soda, then a case . . . and finally a full pallet.  All of which will be value driven, just at different levels as the value required for a single can of soda is very different than a full pallet. Value selling is here to stay — and it is a key differentiator for sales reps [Tweet this]. To sales reps who can sell on value: Welcome to “Surgeon Money.” Z
About the Author
Michael Zuber

Michael Zuber

Michael Zuber is a sales leader with nearly 20 years of experience in various roles including Inside Sales, Pre Sales, Sales, First and Second Line Sales Management. He is currently leading initiatives to marry value management, go to market strategies, and new product innovations. He holds a BA and MBA from Santa Clara University.

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