One of the most-often missed points from salespeople using a value-based selling methodology is how to define value.
Here’s one definition: Something that provides incremental benefit to the customer, beyond what they would achieve from their most likely alternative (e.g., a competitor, doing it themselves, or even doing nothing).
However, the pivotal point in regards to this definition is that it must align with what the customer wants to achieve. What are the positive business outcomes the customer is looking to achieve?
To use a cliché, value is in the eyes of the beholder. What we think may be of value to our customers (or even know what would be) may or may not be in agreement with the customer view. For that customer-specific value to be uncovered, positioned and eventually realized, it needs to be operationalized in the buyer conversation at the point of sale. First, we need reps to understand the current state of the buyer, as well as the negative consequences that result from that state. Then, they need to understand the value of their most likely alternatives.
Each individual customer has a unique view of what represents value to them… not based on the way you have defined it in your market level messaging. That messaging, although heavily researched and validated is often a mass message. It’s created by us and presented outside to the customers. Our customers don’t create their own one-sheet customized to their needs, for example.
An Inside-Out view of value is important for market-level messaging, but it’s often misrepresented and misunderstood at the point of sale to individual customers. They don’t understand why or how that definition of value should matter to them. As a salesperson, to really sell value at the point of sale, we must first understand how each individual customer defines it.
To achieve that understanding, we need to shift our mindset to a customer-focused view on value.
We do that by executing the value-based business conversation. We operationalize value in those critical buyer conversations. It’s based on how we guide the customer to the requirements for success or the required capabilities. Often, in those conversations we create a view of value (or define the value) that’s different than either side had before we started.
It’s basic value-based selling, but the challenge lies in enabling our sales organizations to execute this process, in a way that allows us to close the loop and deliver the value we originally promised. That’s where the real impact comes to the bottom line. You can’t get there without cross-functional alignment and a culture of selling and negotiating on value.
What are the steps that work? How do you drive that execution?