John DeRosa, director of contractor training at SRS Distribution, proposes an interesting thought experiment for distributor sales reps to consider. If their organization went to customers and offered them to either keep their sales rep or receive a 2% rebate at the end of the year, what would their customers choose?

The exercise highlights DeRosa’s broader point: sales reps need to bring value to their customers in such a way that would cause them to choose the rep over a potential rebate or discount.

“What do you think you’re really worth to that contractor from a value exchange perspective?” DeRosa says. “In many cases, our customers are talking to us more than they talk to their families. So what are we doing within those conversations to bring value to them that allows them, or creates a condition, where they really enjoy and they value talking to us?”

In this video, DeRosa explores how sales reps should approach conversations with their customers using empathy to truly understand what matters to them. He provides examples from his own sales career, like when he previously sold estimating software to auto body shops.

Despite having a polished presentation about the software and its features, he initially failed to make a sale, saying he focused on what he thought customers wanted instead of what they care about.

“It was the day that I started to really invest in the relationship with those customers was the day that I really started to figure out what selling was all about,” he said.

View the full video here, or download the podcast version to listen on the go.