If you want to create and win new opportunities, you must ensure you practice some form of a value-based selling approach. Those who don't understand what clients perceive as value in the sales conversation will have a difficult time succeeding in B2B sales. A client that finds the salesperson unable to create value will likely dismiss them after a single meeting, continuing their search for someone more helpful.
What Value-Based Selling Is Not
Because salespeople are taught and trained to believe their company and their "solution" is what creates value for the client, many salespeople believe these things are what the client needs to know. While it is going to be important for the prospective client to choose a good company with good products and services, it is the rarest of contacts who finds a conversation about these things to be valuable. You can certainly try and hope to get lucky, but you are facing about the same probability as winning the lottery.
In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, you will find a framework called Level 4 Value Creation™. The first and lowest level of value is a conversation about your company and your products. This conversation doesn't help the client with what they need. The second level, the experience your company provides through its support and service, doesn't fare much better. Your contacts are going to expect your company to take care of them once they buy, so don’t waste time telling them you’ll do so.
Pitching your company and your product without a conversation about better results has run its course, causing salespeople to change the conversation. What most salespeople practice creates the third level of value, and even if it is losing its power, the ability to help the client with a problem scores points when it comes to value-based selling. However, it is not the high-water mark of value-based selling.
How to Practice a Value-Based Selling Approach
The fourth level of value is designed to help the client pursue their strategic goals. This value-based conversation skips past the first two levels of value, with no conversation about the salesperson's company or what they sell. Instead of working to elicit the client's problems, it begins with a conversation about the forces that cause similar companies to experience poor results. Helping the client to better understand why they have their problems and challenges scores points, as it is a value-based discussion that also positions you as an authority and expert in your industry.
There are certain conversations that will ensure you create value for decision-makers and keep stakeholders engaged.
The Root Cause of the Client's Problem
There is a difference in value between asking a client about their problem or challenge, and being the person that explains why they have the problem in the first place. Clients generally find this value-based selling approach helpful.
- Helping Clients Learn Something about Themselves: In a traditional sales approach, the salesperson asks the client to learn what they need to know to help the client improve their results. In a value-based selling approach, the salesperson asks the clients questions that help them to learn something about themselves and their business.
- What Factors the Client Should Consider and How to Weight Them: One way to pursue a value-based selling approach is to recognize your client needs help making a decision. By explaining the factors the client needs to consider, you provide them with insights and a perspective they're missing. Helping them to weight each factor also scores points.
- How to Understand the Different Models Companies Use: The client considering different companies to help them improve their results will often believe that all of the companies are the same. The salesperson who can explain the competitive landscape and why one approach is better for the client than another will differentiate themselves.
- How to Pursue the Change the Client Needs to Make to Improve Results: You can bundle the conversations that allow you to facilitate the buyer's journey, ensuring your client makes the best decision by providing them with the information to produce the strategic outcomes they need.
You can find a guide on how to execute a value-based selling approach in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative.
Why You Need a Value-Based Selling Approach Now
As the business environment changes over time, what once was an effective sales approach now creates too little value for clients. There is greater uncertainty in the current environment, and it should come as no surprise that leaders and decision-makers look to people who can provide them with counsel, clarity, advice, and recommendations.
When your clients are rarely asked to make a decision that will improve their results, and when that decision comes with the risk of failure, the conversations outlined here provide them with the information and value they need in the sales conversation. The salesperson who has a high probability of winning the client's business produces more value than their competition in two ways. First, they create certainty around the negative outcomes the client will continue to experience if they don’t change. This is followed by conversations that create certainty around the potential positive outcomes and how to reach them.
One of the easier ways to improve your sales approach and your deskside manner is to remove the conversations that clients don't seem to find valuable. When you make the time-wasting, “why us” conversation disappear, your client will find your meetings to be a much better experience.
The salesperson who can’t create value for the client in conversations isn't going to sell their products or their services. The client will eventually find some salesperson who can help them with a decision, one the salesperson enabled, and one that is going to lead them to a signed contract.