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Many salespeople believe they are selling value when they are really selling their products and their services. This is the result of a legacy approach to selling that teaches salespeople that their company and their offerings create value. Because they believe that their solution is the value, their selling strategy is poor. You should avoid this approach to sales.

In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, Chapter 1 is a primer on Level 4 Value Creation, the idea that what you sell is a strategic outcome rather than a product or service. Some readers immediately understand why salespeople should start the conversation at this level. These people are also likely to recognize why they should avoid starting a conversation by talking about their company. It is far better to begin by describing the strategic outcomes you will help the prospective client pursue.

I often hear from salespeople whose organizations require them to use a legacy approach. Most of them tell me they don’t sell the way their company requires because they recognize that the approach no longer works. Some of these salespeople ask me for advice on what to do when their legacy sales manager joins them on a sales call. The best I have to offer is to lock them in the trunk of the car to prevent them from ruining the sales call by insisting on a poor sales meeting agenda.

Paths to Value

This selling framework and sales methodologies are part of a modern sales approach, which I also describe as value-based selling.

Creating Value

When you call on a client, your primary outcome is to create value for and, in B2B sales, the only vehicle available for doing that is the sales conversation. This is where the legacy approach causes salespeople to fail their clients. If you have trouble securing a second meeting, it means you didn’t create value in the first one.

In the modern approach, the salesperson using Level 4 Value Creation opens the sales conversation by sharing a briefing that contains industry and market insights selected to help the client recognize the nature of their problems. This will also help them recognize the need to change. Opening the sales conversation in this way is more effective because it creates value for the client. This is a key part of the selling process, and it is how you present yourself as a trusted advisor.

Building Value

Most salespeople believe that their solution is what clients value. They focus on the value of their products and services because they believe that will cause the buyers and decision-makers to prefer their solution over their competitors’. This approach is misguided.

To build value in a way that will help you win deals, you must build the value by focusing on the strategic outcomes your prospective client needs. This approach is far more effective than pretending your solution is somehow better than your competitors'. In reality, both solutions are likely to work, which means you must differentiate yourself, not your offering, in the conversation.

The sales professional starts the conversation by talking about the strategic outcomes their client needs and how best to go about improving their results. Without mentioning their product or service, they build up the value of the outcomes that are most important to the client.


Adding Value

There are two ways we talk about adding value. The first has nothing whatsoever to do with sales. According to this definition, adding value is a strategy where one company makes something out of raw materials. For example, a silverware manufacturer adds value by creating flatware out of steel. This is different from how salespeople use the term adding value in the context of the sales conversation.

When salespeople talk about adding value, they typically mean giving a client something to sweeten a deal. This is mainly a strategy to preserve profit margins. For example, the sales rep doesn’t want to lower their price, so they offer their client a free upgrade. This is valuable to the client, but it doesn’t cost the sales organization more than the profit they would lose by lowering their price.

Delivering Value 

When your client buys from you, you and your company deliver value. It can’t be overstated that delivering value is not the same as delivering your solution, although many salespeople make this mistake. When you consider the changing nature of the sales call, it is clear that salespeople are accountable for the strategic outcomes the client needs. When you sell strategic outcomes, as you do through Level 4 Value Creation, you need to deliver that value. 

When what you sell produces the result the client needs, you have proof that you have delivered the value you promised. 

Creating New Value

If you want to retain and grow your clients, you will have to figure out how to create new value. Occasionally, you might have a contract end, requiring you to compete for the client’s business. You might be tempted to make a long list of all the great work you have done in the past, but this isn’t the right approach. Your client isn’t interested in what you have done in the past; they have already paid for that. They are interested in their future, which means creating new value for clients. 

Keeping and growing your clients means creating new value. The best strategy is to continuously improve what you offer so it delivers new value. The easiest way to introduce clients to this new value is to provide them with a vision using a roadmap or a maturity model. You can base this on one of the topics in your quarterly business reviews that will resonate with your client. 

Selling Value

If you want to sell value, you need the skills, strategies, and techniques that allow you to deliver different types of value over the course of your relationship with your client. These different paths to value are critical to effective selling. Leaving this article, you should start writing down how you create each one, keeping your client’s strategic outcomes at the center of your thought process.

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Sales 2023
Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 15, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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