Customers buy value, not price! We know the importance of creating a strong value proposition–something differentiated from the alternatives. Something that has great meaning to the customer. We know that if customers don’t realize that value, we won’t maintain the relationship. They may have remorse with the decision, they may choose not to renew or grow.

Over the past few years, we’ve begun to learn the most important area of value creation has less to do with our solutions, but more to do with how sellers help customers in their problem solving process. Inciting customers to change, helping them recognize there may be better ways to grow and achieve their goals. Helping them innovate. Helping them successfully navigate the change management process, their buying process. Helping them manage consensus throughout the process. Helping them make sense of the overwhelming amount of high quality information. Helping them make a decision in which they have great confidence.

We know the majority of buying decisions and change initiatives fail, the customer can’t navigate the process, they resist change, they suffer from indecision. Great sellers create differentiated value through helping the customer understand this and what it means to each of them.

But there’s the foundational element of value creation, where I see virtually no discussion. Without this, our ability to deliver on the other elements is severely compromised.

It’s the value we create for our people. It’s their experience and engagement in our own organizations.

Daily, we read articles about the great resignation, quiet and not so quiet quitting, plummeting tenure and engagement. Plummeting performance, plummeting tenure at all levels-sellers and managers. We know the correlation between employee engagement/satisfaction and customer engagement/satisfaction.

If we are going to create great and differentiated value with our customers, we have to first, create great and differentiated value within our own organizations. We have to create organizations where each person is aligned with our purpose, values, and culture. Where our organizational identity complements and builds on the identities of each person in the organization. We have to create organizations where people feel included, heard, and valued. We have to develop our people, not only for what they are currently doing, but helping them grow, develop, and contribute over time. We have to create organizations where people see a future.

It shouldn’t be surprising, when we look at the highest performing organizations, we see organizations that value their people, create value with them, and leaders that “walk the talk,” everyday.

Sadly, too many organizations have lost sight of this. People are replaceable widgets. They are managed strictly to meaningless numbers. Too many organizations rely on surrogates to deep employee engagement–free coffee, fitness programs, beer parties, and swag are not a substitute for genuine caring. While comp is important, it is insufficient to maintaining deep engagement.

Value creation starts within our own organizations. It starts with how we care for and support each other. How we work together to achieve our shared goals. We can never create differentiated value with our customers unless we are doing that with our people.