As sales professionals, we like to think we engage in solution selling. In B2B sales, the prospect is pragmatic, more interested in the problem than the product. From initial sales calls to closing the deal, sales reps need to sell value throughout the entire buying process. Sales questions need to be focused on understanding pain points and demos must display tangible value to the customer.
To seasoned sales experts, value selling is implicit, a philosophy that is just assumed rather than studied. Value-based sales is a discipline of its own, featuring key principles that can significantly benefit customer relationships. With value-based selling, you can better understand who you can help and how they benefit from your solutions.
What is Value-Based Selling?
Value-based selling is a sales methodology centered on supplying benefits to the customer. Sales reps act as expert consultants throughout the sales process to make prospects perceive greater value. Rather than selling products through features, value-based selling showcases the potential of solutions to resolve problems and generate satisfaction.
Salespeople face an uphill battle against competing products and even the status quo. B2B customers see real or perceived costs in instituting change, and many are resistant to buying because of it.
With value-based selling, sales reps can amplify dissatisfaction with the current situation and highlight the benefits of taking action. Prospects are given a powerful vision of a positive future made possible by using your solution.
Value-Based Selling Process and Techniques
There are several ways customers can measure your value. By understanding your client’s problems, you can decipher which metrics they use and how to tailor your sales strategy.
There are four main ways in which prospective buyers might assess value:
1. Costs and Returns
Monetary value is an easy, objective measure for most business leaders considering a product. Sales reps can show value in how their solution can make money or save money for an organization.
This usually equates to a certain dollar amount spread over a population during a specific period of time. For example, if you sell DAP software, you can ask how much training costs the company each month. You could show how your solution cuts training time in half, resulting in specific dollar reductions in monthly costs. Using simple calculations, you can communicate the difference between using and not using your solution with a concrete number.
2. Competitive Comparison
How you stack up to the rest of the available solutions is another way customers determine value. While you should acknowledge competition respectfully when those questions arise, discussing your relative position should be avoided.
When clients start weighing your solutions against other options, you lose unique value. Prospects begin to compare products, working against the substance of value-based selling. Salespeople should avoid market comparisons to retain their position as a trusted ally in reaching solutions.
3. Lower Risk
Risk reduction is incredibly valuable for any customer. Try to outline the various risks customers face in their current situation and frame your product as a way to reduce them. When you communicate the implications of being able to avoid those risks, your argument is more impactful.
Taken a step further, you can look at risk reduction as it applies to your product. Customers are fearful of setbacks caused by change. If you can reduce the perceived risks of adopting your solution, you make it easier for them to buy.
4. Intangible value
B2B customers buy differently than B2C customers, and being cognizant of that helps you craft your marketing appropriately. Customers buying a smartphone buy based on emotion and justify with logic. B2B customers buying CRM software solutions buy based on logic and justify with logic. In most cases, being able to reflect empirical financial benefits in your presentations is the best way to demonstrate value.
As essential as data is to B2B sales, decisions to pursue solutions are still grounded in some emotional reaction. Salespeople can touch on that in conversations to support their product’s business value.
For example, sales teams slowly adopting new technologies can frustrate sales managers. Overly complicated reporting software can be confusing and overwhelming. There is value in managing feelings tied to the costs of the status quo. Salespeople can help customers realize how taking action can provide emotional relief and satisfaction.
Important Principles of Value-Based Selling
While the value you present should be uniquely tailored to each customer, value-based selling has a consistent look in practice. The following are eight predominant principles you must integrate into your sales mindset to ensure you demonstrate maximum value:
Research, Research, Research
Before your first sales call, you have to fully comprehend the context of your prospect’s problems and needs. Value-based selling is based around closing deals by putting the client’s needs at the forefront. To accurately speak to those needs, it is essential that you do the necessary research.
Take a business and personal view of your prospect. From an organizational perspective, you need to understand their needs and definition of success. Research their website to learn their market, guiding principles and company mission. When you know what they want to achieve, you can sell solutions as means to that end.
Do in-depth research into the company’s product offerings, size and sales volume and their position among the competition. Check annual reports to see how they grow and what initiatives they are prioritizing. Before reaching out, look at social media and press to see any recent business developments. Equipped with enough information, you can target major pain points and enhance your value.
Researching your decision-maker is equally important, as they also have personal needs and challenges that can be addressed. Here are some ideas on how to sufficiently research your prospect:
- Check out LinkedIn profiles: Prospects’ LinkedIn profiles can be a goldmine of personal information to leverage in a sales conversation. Have they been with the company long? If they are a long-time leader, they may need efficiency in getting through a deal. If they were just promoted, they may need confidence in the solution they select. When you know more about their career experience, you can better estimate what might benefit them.
LinkedIn is also a great place to research connections you share with your prospect. Having a mutual acquaintance is a massive help in establishing instant trust. Perhaps more importantly, it gives you a key resource to learn more intimate details about your prospect.
- Explore social media: Looking at your prospect’s shared content and conversation contributions on social media can reveal what is on their mind. If they have Facebook or Twitter profiles, research their activity to see where you can add relevant value.
- Dig into the CRM history: Depending on how you sourced your lead, you may have access to customer information in your CRM. If your customer worked with your business in the past, you can see which solutions worked in the past. If they were a cold lead, you can see why they did not convert or when they will. Either way, you will have an idea of where they may have seen value for you to replicate.
Do not Lead With the Sales Pitch
Selling comes second to qualifying. Your research should give you a framework to guide a conversation and the fuel to start it. However, you need to hear the direct issue from the prospect themselves to build a firm sales pitch.
Without a unique framing of their problem, your sales pitch will either sound generic or miss the mark entirely. By taking time to ask questions, you can understand their perception of problems and how they value available solutions.
Appropriate qualifying allows you to explain your value in a way that is important to the prospect. In addition, you earn trust by ignoring your pitch in favor of their current needs.
Illustrate the Value the Product Offers to Your Customer
Feature-benefit conversations are basic must-haves in any sales context. Prospects enter into buying modes because they have a problem or need requiring a solution. This simple principle can be forgotten when salespeople are bogged down in competitive advantages.
A major, advertised benefit of your solution will not necessarily matter unless it connects to solving a customer’s problem. Consider how your product benefits productivity and affects the business’s financial goals. If you have unique advantages built into your product, make sure they correspond to the customer’s needs and expectations.
Act as a Consultant, not a Salesperson
Being an educator for your customer is a great way to build a stable and profitable relationship. Customers develop trust and receive real value when salespeople become reliable resources. When it comes time to sell your product, you will have already proven the value of your solutions.
As you engage customers through qualification stages, note the problems they discuss and how they prioritize them. Offer potential solutions, relevant content or useful tools that can help them solve their various business issues. When it comes time for a presentation, you can position your product as part of a richer solution.
Advise Prospects Along Their Buying Journey
Value-based selling is wholly focused on generating the most favorable outcomes for the customer. As an on-hand resource during the buying process, you can add insight and identify opportunities that benefit their business. You are able to guide the prospect while allowing them to stay in control of the decision.
Maintain a Genuine Personality
Engaging with your prospect in a friendly, conversational tone should come naturally in value-based selling. Conversations should form and flow organically. Avoid embedding product or sales talk in every interaction and instead spend time listening and responding with real interest.
Engage in active listening and formulate thoughtful follow-up questions to dig deeper into your customer’s perspective. Prospects understand when you are engaged. They will value you more when you display an enthusiastic, authentic investment in their situation.
Ask open-ended questions to keep conversations fluid and dynamic. When you invest in making worthwhile and enjoyable small talk, you contribute to a trusting relationship.
Bring Value to Every Conversation
It is crucial to add value in every interaction with your customer to fuel the anticipation for the next one. Customers are engaged when they are getting adequate support and a good return on their time investment. When you make every conversation value-laden, you earn their trust and appreciation.
The value you add stems from the research you perform. It could be providing relevant resources like tools, articles or even a sales podcast to help prospects achieve goals. It could also be simple considerations within conversations such as active listening and offering opportunities to answer questions. If you can be conscientious about your prospect’s time and effort, the experience becomes mutually rewarding.
Know Who to Pursue
Value-based selling is largely driven by qualification principles. A critical component of qualification is actually disqualification, knowing when to move on from prospects. As you investigate their needs and try to conform solutions to fit their needs, you may find that a quality fit does not exist.
In value-based selling, you should be committed to adding value. However, if there is no reasonable potential for a sale, you are doing your customer and yourself a disservice. Without a product fit, your value will eventually thin.
This does not mean that you have to drop prospects. Instead, they can become a nurtured cold lead, one that can be revisited when you have new value to add. The prospect may have seasonal needs that made your timing unsuitable. Maybe there were major market influences that changed their needs. Knowing when and how aggressively to engage prospects will save time and customers will recognize the extra consideration.
Value-Based Selling Questions
Arriving at conclusions about what is important to prospects is an unobtrusive way to guide the sales conversation. In certain situations, however, being frank is the most efficient way to move conversations forward. To get to the root of what prospects value, considering asking the following value-based questions:
- How will you measure or observe the impact of this project?
- How much change do you want?
- What would it be worth to you to get what you want?
- What is costing you now to do nothing?
- Who is this affecting, and how is it affecting them?
Value-based selling is a powerful sales approach that can benefit any B2B sales team. Using these principles, salespeople can generate returns at every step of the sales cycle and increase their sales effectiveness.
If you want to instill behaviors that increase sales volume, close rates and customer retention, the Selling Revolution can help. Book an introductory call with our selling experts to learn how we can develop winning processes for your team.