Every sales professional working to sell in today’s economy must master the art of selling value. And, in order to master the art of selling value, today’s sales professional must understand what selling value really means; from both sides of each sale.
Sell Value, Not Price Because Value is Easier to Sell than Price
Why? Because value is worth more than price.
Value Means More Today than Ever Before
Lessons learned by prospective buyers (prospects) during and after the economic meltdown of 2008 have made value more important than ever. Value is more important today than brand loyalty, more important than relationships between buyers and sellers and even more important than price.
Sales professionals face tougher resistance today because prospects don’t resist as part of a strategy to get a lower price; they resist because they haven’t heard a compelling value proposition.
The message is clear.
Sales professionals who can’t or won’t sell value, at some point, can’t or won’t sell at all.
What Value Is, Who Defines Value and Who is Responsible for Delivering Value
Value is defined by benefits that make business easier, safer and/or more profitable.
Value can come from a simplified ordering process or creative financing or efficient customer service procedures or flexible payment terms or performance guarantees or any other benefit a prospect may perceive as valuable.
Because no sales professional can ever thoroughly understand a prospect’s situation, only a prospect can truly define value.
Though sales professionals propose value to close sales, they have little or nothing to do with delivering value. This isn’t a putdown of the sales profession; it’s an empirical observation of an unfortunate reality with an inherent problem; unless sales professionals develop ‘partnering’ relationships with key colleagues and vendors to make sure each customer gets the promised value for the investment made, future sales opportunities with those customers and others may be at risk.
How Sales Professionals Can Create Compelling Value Propositions
The best way for sales professionals to create compelling value propositions is to add value by improving processes and solving problems for prospects without regard for self-interests.
The sales profession is, after all, about people depending on people to protect each other’s interests. Prospects depend on sales professionals to recommend and deliver the best products and services (value propositions) while sales professionals depend on prospects to not only pay for those products and services but to come back and buy more in the future.
Putting a Value Proposition to Work; an Example
A Midwest metal machining company was struggling to hang on to customers who were taking more and more of their business to third world countries. Just about every time the company submitted a bid, they got beat by ten, twenty, even thirty percent by foreign competitors.
Because the company’s equipment was old and inefficient, management knew that the only way to close the quoting gap was to improve productivity with two new milling machines and a new lathe. Even though it was a creditworthy business, there wasn’t enough cash flow to make payments on three new pieces of equipment for the six months it could take before added revenue would actually hit the bank.
A local equipment salesman cold-called one day and, after learning about the dilemma, thought about how he could help the machining company become more competitive.
A day later, he returned to talk with the prospect about how to cut costs to acquire new equipment. He then talked to his company’s controller about how to handle the prospect’s inability to make the first six monthly payments.
Two days later, the salesman presented the prospect with a simple value proposition: For less than half the cost of three separate machines, the prospect could lease one fully capable computer-controlled combination mill/lathe with no down payment and no payments for six months.
Not only did the salesman return to his office with a signed order, he made a customer for life.
Sell value, not price and, like our equipment sales, you’ll be glad you did.
Who could ask for anything more?