Don’t Forget These Key Steps to a Value-Based Sales Conversation
Categories: Sales Conversation
Value-based selling demands an understanding of a basic buying process, the stages that guide a buyer from determining their requirements to actually signing a deal.
Improve your ability to progress your prospects through these stages in a way that leads a buyer towards your solution and away from the competition (including a do-nothing or do-it-internally competitor). Focus on providing your prospects business value throughout your sales process.
Leveraging a value-based approach, your sales process should naturally progress your buyer from his/her pains and objectives to a well-thought-out solution that gets them to their desired positive business outcomes (PBOs). Use these five steps of a value-based sales conversation to build out a business case that favors your solution and helps your buyer achieve their desired PBOs.
1. Execute effective discovery to uncover business pains
The first step to a value-based selling process is to get the prospect to admit pain points and to describe the business outcomes he/she is looking to achieve, or their Positive Business Outcomes. PBOs are the tangible benefits that result from a buyer implementing your solutions. One of the most common reasons deals stall is when sales reps aren’t attached to these desired outcomes and the biggest business issues facing their buyers.
Uncover your buyer’s PBOs. Dig deep. Don’t just scratch the surface. Understand:
- What are the before and after scenarios of that PBO or multiple PBOs?
- How will the PBOs benefit the organization, your buyer individually and others in the company?
- What are the negative consequences of the buyer not acting on that business pain?
- What are the company-wide impacts of those business challenges being solved?
Once you have an idea of the business pain, the impacts of the pain, and the future state the customer is trying to get to — you can attach to it throughout your sales process. As you move forward you can focus on creating a compelling business case centered around achieving critical PBOs. Keep in mind as you progress this opportunity, ensure you’re constantly reaffirming PBOs and adjusting as needed to stay aligned with multiple buyers.
2. Create justification for an urgent and premium solution
Top-performing salespeople define themselves by the business problems they solve, not the products they sell. Approach your sales process similarly. Use your buyer’s articulated business pains and desired outcomes to craft a value-based business case for a solution that will drive urgency and premium funding from an economic buyer (someone with access to discretionary funds and the power to sign off on an enterprise-level contract).
Driving urgency and funding demands that (1) your buyers understand that they need an urgent solution to achieve a PBO and/or fix a business challenge and (2) they can’t provide that solution on their own.
As you guide your prospect through their buying process, help them reach this conclusion on their own by supporting them in creating a business-level justification to purchase a solution. Remember, people rarely argue with their own conclusions. As you work to help them reach this conclusion, consider the three questions you’ll need to answer for an economic buyer. High-level decision makers may not think they have a challenge that’s so big it demands action. These three questions can help you get economic buyers to stand in their moment of pain and demand an urgent solution to their business challenges. Get them to this point by speaking their language and being relevant to their high-level business challenges. Once you’ve gotten them to see the need for a solution, they’ll look to you for help determining what that solution may be and how they’re going to implement it to achieve results.
3. Help them define requirements for a solution that achieves their PBOs (and favors your solution)
After you uncover your buyer’s biggest business pains, work with your prospect to help them understand what they need from a solution to achieve their PBOs.
Required capabilities define the specific requirements that are necessary to achieve your prospect's PBOs, meaning if your buyers want to achieve X, they need to make sure Y is in place. The PBOs and the Required Capabilities are where the technical and business worlds come together. As an elite seller, you’ve got to nail the two and connect them. You can’t just move forward with one or the other — or your deal will stall or lose out to the competition.
Help your prospect determine what they may need from a solution to get from their current state to their desired future state. Ask great questions that get your buyer to strategically define their required capabilities in a way that aligns with your solution’s differentiation. Use these questions to trap the competition around the technical capabilities of your solution that make it different or better than competitors. Focus on jointly developing a specific and finite list of requirements that the solution must satisfy in order to address business pain points and achieve a PBO. In the process, get your buyer to prioritize these solution requirements and stack them in favor of your solution.
Reconfirm this list frequently, adding to it as needed as you meet with other influencers and decision makers within the account. When executed correctly, this process will help you get your buyer to anchor on required capabilities that your competitors simply can’t measure up to, which is a value-add for your solution that you can pull through into negotiations later on.
4. Pull your solution’s value and differentiation into negotiations
The main focus of the value-based conversation is executing effective discovery and aligning your buyer’s buying criteria to your solution’s value and differentiation. If you’ve successfully executed that, (uncovered your buyer’s biggest business problems, helped them build a business case for a solution, and trapped the competition around your technical capabilities and differentiators) then you’ve set yourself up to prove your fit and validate the need for a premium price.
Each of those three steps is key to negotiating early and instilling value in your deals, long before the negotiation conversations even begin. Now, after you’ve done the effective up-front work, execute on it. Pull your solution’s value into negotiation conversations and leverage your differentiation to protect your value, win more and close larger deals.
Elite sellers are great at articulating their solution’s business value and differentiation in a way that’s relevant to their buyer’s critical buying criteria. They command their message in front of the customer, mapping out how their solution is different or better than the competition (including the do-it-internally competitor). They leverage agreed-upon solution differentiation, aligning it to their buyer’s specific positive business outcomes, before and after scenarios, and requirements for a successful solution implementation. They build out a full picture that enables them to validate the need for a premium price, rather than fall victim to procurement tactics.
It’s easy for even veteran sellers to lose value at the end of the sale or fall victim to tough procurement tactics. Train yourself not to, and constantly hone your skills. This podcast shares five key tips for managing the negotiation process with professional buyers and preparing for success. Review it before your upcoming conversations.
5. Provide the proof
The final aspect of a value-based sales conversation is validating that your solution can do what you say it can do. That’s where step five comes in. Show real-world examples of the value you promise with proof points and customer testimonials that give future customers tangible evidence that your solution does what you say it can do. Providing these references from outside sources at the right times can help your customers understand the positive business outcomes they can also expect from your solution. Keep in mind, effective proof points are more than a logo and some bulleted metrics.
Your proof points should tell a story of how your solutions achieved critical outcomes for your customers. When they’re built correctly, you can use them to validate your solution’s ability to drive PBOs and articulate what those companies implemented to get to a desired after scenario.
If possible, the testimonials you share with prospects should outline solution requirements, metrics, PBOs and before and after scenarios that are relevant or at least similar to your current opportunity. If your proof points are built in this way, your job is to use them effectively and at the correct times. The ability to effectively articulate success stories in a way that has meaning to the buyer in your sales conversation is a critical skill. Here are the steps you can take to maximize the effectiveness of proof points in your sales conversations.
What happens if you have gaps in your available testimonials? Top-performing sellers own the proof point creation process, regardless of how well their sales organization supports them in developing impactful proof points. Understand how you can own the proof point process and ensure you have the right proof points to leverage in future conversations.
How to Execute a Value-Based Sales Approach with Multiple Buyers:
If you’re making the shift from selling smaller deals to selling enterprise solutions that require multiple decision makers, it’s important to execute a value-based sales conversation with each critical stakeholder. The business pains you’re uncovering are likely causing ripples of challenges across departments. Dealing with multiple stakeholders demands an ability to articulate value and differentiation in a way that has meaning to each specific decision maker and the challenges they’re facing. Improve your ability to navigate the decision process with multiple buyers and win deals that involve people higher, wider and deeper in your buyer’s organization.
This podcast shares tips you can apply immediately to your deals. John Kaplan walks through key ways to get multithreaded in your opportunity and ensure you’re communicating effectively with each decision maker in the buying organization.