Sales Enablement

7 Hard Truths About Selling Value

Everyone wants to sell their offerings for more. But sales teams are torn.

Corporate says, “We need to sell value. What we offer is worth more than what we're getting.” And customers respond with: “We can’t spend that” or “Your competitor's price was better”.

Here’s the reality: value selling is hard. To do it right, you’ve got to face seven hard truths head on:

  1. You must be different from your competition, and you must be able to clearly articulate that difference.

It’s shocking how many sellers don’t keep up with their competitors' offerings. How can you differentiate yourself if you don’t know this information?

What Can You Do? 

  • Proactively track your competitors – start with the people who know them best… customers and prospects

  • Conduct a loss analysis – survey the customer to find out why they chose your competitor
  • Track competitor developments – use the same discovery skills you use on customers for your competitors

  1. Your customer must want or need that “thing” that makes you different.

If your key differentiator isn’t something that the customer needs, they won’t pay more for it. It isn’t a benefit if customers don’t value it – it’s only a “feature”.

What Can You Do?

  • Change the conversation – start by helping the customer see why they need what you uniquely offer AND why it is so valuable to them

  • If they can’t see the value, either sell on price or qualify out customers who aren’t a fit

  1. Not all customers with the same profile have the same values.

Various decision-makers have different strategies, budgets, and motivations. When you blindly assume that similar customers have similar values, you waste everyone's time.

What Can You Do?

  • Conduct effective discovery – understand their business, motivations, and the broader challenges they face. It's important to uncover critical elements to determine if you’re offering the best solution and earning value
  • Dig deeper – the more complex the offering, the more thorough the discovery and the more areas of the customer's business to impact

  1. Customers rarely change their decision criteria late in the buying process.

If you enter the conversation midway through the buying process, you are a column fodder. Even if you are not, the customer is not likely to derail their decision-making. Remember, other vendors have already anchored them with decision criteria and price. If your competitors know your offering well, they’ve probably already downplayed your unique qualities.

What Can You Do?

  • Get involved early – if you want to shape what the customer values, grab them early in the decision journey. Talk to prospective customers long before they realize their needs

  • Consider qualifying out – if you realize after the first conversation that you are late to the process, start by asking why. Unless the customer has decided to pass on other vendors, consider whether this is worth the fight

  • Test your messaging and pricing – if it doesn’t resonate, you may be better off walking away than investing time in a sale that was never going to go your way

  1. Trust is critical for customers making value buys.

Customers take a leap of faith when they pay a higher price. They will have to support their decisions to stakeholders, putting their jobs and reputations on the line. Customers need to feel comfortable with your delivery. You must prove that you know their needs and challenges intimately. Trust can be built by putting their needs first, creating a viable product, and demonstrating a clear business case.

What Can You Do?

  • Utilize the 4 R’s – be relevant, be real, be relatable, and be reliable (learn more here)

  1. YOU can (and should) be a valuable differentiator.

When you meet with customers, you are more than just the face of the products. Customers need to do more than just trust your products – they need to trust you. After all, YOU are the person who meets with your customers and are the expert on the product. You are also the one with the expertise that makes their jobs easier by solving problems, servicing your offering, and bringing forth new information.

What Can You Do?

  • Stay up to date with product knowledge
  • Take responsibility for any customer service issues
  • Never stop learning – make the time to be a student of your market and your customers’ business priorities

  1. Price still matters.

Even when you sell on value, you still need to justify the price for the customer’s ROI. Consider how much your customer is willing to pay for benefits.

In theory, that’s how much more you can charge, but… there’s other factors: budgets, spending authority, competing priorities, and pressure within the organization.

What Can You Do?

  • Create a business case for the customer to show ROI – engage the customer in this process so they can sell this internally

  • Get creative – if you are asking beyond the customers initial price, consider new possibilities, like payment terms and multiple budget cycles. Help them tap into other budgets that will benefit from the product too

If you’ve really sold your value, your customer might be willing to collaborate with you on this step.

To reiterate, value selling is HARD.

We don’t recommend attempting this alone. Leverage sales leaders, marketing and product teams, and peers. Ask for information and materials. Collaborate and brainstorm while continuously asking for customer feedback. Reach out to us for more ideas on engaging customers around value.

About The Author

Author photo Rachel understands what makes salespeople tick. She specializes in strategies that drive the change needed to produce results. She has managed many sales force transformations, helping sales leaders realign organizations and define new selling models. She has partnered with many organizations across industries to design and deliver sales training, coaching, and change management programs. Rachel has a knack for crystallizing complex concepts into a single picture with high-impact messages.

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