Value selling means selling a product or service while focusing on the added value you create for the customer. But how exactly do you do that? And how does value selling affect your experience with the customer?
Selling starts with understanding your customer’s end goal. The classic example that everyone knows by now is the story of the drill and the hole. Customers are not looking for products, they are looking for solutions, right? Okay, but what about the adhesive strip? Yes, there is that too, and this is where added value really comes into play.
Here’s what we mean. Your customer wants to hang a painting, so she needs a hole, not a drill. Right? Wrong: She wants to hang something, display something. But what does she want to hang? Is it something heavy? Does she want to change the content or place from time to time? If so, the adhesive strip is the right solution. After all, it leaves no marks and you can reposition your painting without damaging your wall. 3M understood this very well at the time.
Do you understand your customer?
How often do you really know what your customer wants? How often do you know their end goal? Probably not always, maybe even rarely. Sales & marketing professionals don’t always dare to ask what they think they should have already known. So they remain silent.
Never assume, it makes an ASS out of U and ME. My boss used to tell me that, ad nauseam. But he was right, unfortunately.
If you understand the conceivable impact of your offering, if you understand its capabilities or competencies for the customer, then you can really add value to your conversation.
What is your value?
In a B2B context, you can reduce the impact of almost any product or service to one (or more) of these:
- Time savings and thus cost savings
- Increase in sales (i.e. by selling more or more expensive products)
- Increase in margin
For many solutions you will have to make a considerable bridge between the strengths of your offering and its impact on your customer. Making that translation is value selling.
Now take a look at your website, sales presentations and other sales & marketing materials. How often do you talk about “we and us”? How often do you talk about “you and your company”? If you do mostly the former, then addressing your value proposition is an important first step.
3 important aspects of value selling
1. Know your customer and relevant stakeholders
Each stakeholder has their own experiences, intentions and goals. Understand the context in which your customer operates. Try to gain insight into their underlying motivations. This way you can later influence them to your own advantage. Engage in conversation and dare to ask the right questions.
2. Make a bridge between your solution and the (personal) impact for all stakeholders.
Make it concrete using examples, tangible evidence and/or customer testimonials. Calculate the return on investment (ROI) for the client so that the impact becomes even more tangible.
3. Understand your customer’s propensity to buy.
Before customers make a final buying decision, they go through several mental phases. Some customers go through those phases quickly, while others need a little more time. Depending on how prepared your customer is to buy, they will focus on different things. That in turn determines what your customer will actively listen to and what messages he is open to. Adjust your communication accordingly. Packaging your sales messages according to Why Change, Why Us, Why Stay will result in increased margin and win-rates.
Practical tips for value selling
- Share new insights or information that your customer does not have (easy) access to.
- Show new perspectives or suggest a new way of working that your client may not have considered.
- Navigate by providing knowledge. Help your customer make the right decisions.
- Help your client dodge the minefield by avoiding bad decisions.
- Help to sell to peers or upper management decision makers.
- Justify the purchase by quantifying the added value.
You can learn how to value-sell
Value selling means not being afraid to engage in conversation and ask the right questions. To my great surprise, in my experience with sales teams, therein lies the biggest challenge for sales professionals. It’s about conversation techniques, above and beyond questioning techniques. How do you formulate the right questions? How do you encourage the customer to tell you much more? How do you start a dialogue, instead of an interrogation?
The good news? Value selling can be learned. Even more, we can help you do it.
In our next blog post, we’ll take a closer look at why value selling is a good idea, and we’ll discuss the impact value selling has on your sales success.