You often hear people talk about creating value for their clients. Much of the time, this refers to a salesperson’s solution and the better results it provides. Better results create value. That value, however, is unavailable to the prospective client until after they buy whatever the salesperson sells.
It's important to understand you don't get all the clients you want. You get all the clients that want you. The sales conversation is the single vehicle we have for creating value before your prospective client buys what you sell. The value creation model presented here is limited to the sales conversation. You want to create more opportunities, whether they come from new logos or existing clients. You also want to win those opportunities. Your ability to create value is the largest variable of winning your dream client's business.
A Value Creation Model for B2B Sales
Your awareness of what a client considers valuable comes from your experience helping other clients. This value creation model begins with a theory about what your prospective client needs from you. That drives the conversation through the five key elements of the value creation model. Each of these elements will help you deliver the value the client needs.
Part 1: A Theory about Better Results
There is no reason to call a decision-maker and ask them for a meeting if you don't already have a good working theory about the better results available to them and their company. It's possible your prospective client doesn't need or want the better results you offer, but it's also possible your contact is interested in improving their outcomes.
Some of the time, leaders are so busy running their business that they haven't looked up to see what has changed outside their windows. They may not have noticed the changes that impact their business—or soon will. A contact who hasn’t been paying attention to these shifts often finds it valuable to have a conversation about what's changed and what it means for their business. You can use something like an executive briefing to help them recognize what they need to change to improve their results. At the center of this briefing should be your theory about the better results they could achieve and how to get there.
Part 2: Information Parity
You've been in your industry for a long enough time that you have knowledge and experience unknown to your contacts. We call this idea One-Up. Your contact doesn't know what you know, and much of the time, like all of us, they don't know what they don't know. You create value by correcting the information disparity between you and your contacts.
To help your contacts with information parity, you must share your knowledge and experience with them. When your contacts find this information helpful, it’s a strong indicator you are creating value for them. Without transferring the knowledge your client needs, how can you expect them to make a decision to help their company and their future results?
Part 3: Guidance on the Buyer's Journey
A contact or a group of stakeholders may have misconceptions about how to make a decision that will improve their results. Some will want you to follow their existing process, even though it would result in a poor outcome. Others will have people coming and going, making it difficult for the decision-maker and their team to reach a consensus.
You can prevent your prospective client from failing to produce the desired results by guiding them about what conversations and commitments are necessary to successfully complete their buyer's journey—one that leads them to better results.
Part 4: Factors and Considerations
Maybe you have noticed that what works for one company doesn't always work for a similar company with an equally similar need for better results. A salesperson can create a different type of value when they can recognize the patterns that reveal what is invisible to their competitors and contacts.
Explaining the factors the contact needs to understand, and how to weigh them, is something like decision enablement. To do this, you must pay close attention during a conversation where you learn about how your client does things now, what they can do, and what will not work for them. Outlining and prioritizing specific factors and considerations can move the contact towards the right approach to change.
Part 5: Identifying the Right Partner
It's easy for a decision-maker to believe that the companies they are considering are the same. This is a common mistake. When decision-makers approach potential partners as interchangeable, they fail to recognize the different ways companies deliver value. This is like planning a business lunch and believing there is no difference between McDonald's and Smith & Wollensky. It's true they are both restaurants, but they don’t have much else in common.
Salespeople can help their contacts choose the right partner by explaining why one potential model is better for the client than another, and the concessions that come with each one. By illuminating the differences in each option the decision-maker is considering, you help your contacts realize that what you are selling is not a commodity. In doing this, you create value by moving your contacts toward the right decision, one that won't end in buyer's remorse, and, often an expensive mistake that is difficult to correct. When a contact understands the concessions they agree to by choosing a certain model, they will have greater certainty about moving forward.
You may have noticed no part of these stages have you talking about your company, your products, or your services. Conversations about your organization and what you offer are anti-value; said another way, they are a waste of time for your contacts because they fail to address their specific situation. You may want to win this client, but you will only win the client if they want you.
The value creation model prevents you from losing by helping your contacts differentiate you, your company, and how you deliver value. When the variable is the value created in the sales conversation with your clients, the way you score points is by creating greater value than any of your competitors.