Value based selling has become the norm. And my value message is perhaps the most important thing I have as a salesperson. My value message strengthens the perception of me as a trustworthy advisor. The value message is one of many ways of strengthening our personal brand.
Creating value entails taking the customer’s perspective
Very few salespersons take the time to gain a full understanding of a customer’s situation. This results in customers developing an aversion to us who work in sales. I understand this. Meeting sales rep after sales rep who talks about himself/herself, and who in the best event has presented a few weak examples of customer cases that are unrelated to the customer’s operations is tiring. Why do sales people act like this, you might wonder?
I think the explanation is as obvious as it is simple – we like to talk about what we know best – ourselves. We have a much more difficult time with making a customer’s problems and reality the point of departure. This requires investments in time and it requires genuine interest on our part to be relevant. I can go so far as to say that we need to understand the customer’s world better than the customer himself/herself.
If we succeed with this, our value message is simple. We know how we should position ourselves. If we are poorly informed and not particularly interested in what the customer does, our message will be inadequate and the customer will tire. That is why value based selling has become the new norm.
From product to insight
Talking about our products is not wrong, what we need to do is close deals. The question is when we should initiate the product dialog. As you surely noticed when reading the introduction of this blog post, the product should come at the end of our customer dialog; unfortunately, it often comes first.
With this in mind, paint a picture of the vision for the customer. A scenario of how a fantastic future could look, or how the worse imaginable could destroy everything the customer has worked for.
A value message includes both hope and despair. It is a bit like putting the customer into a clothes dryer and shaking him up. We do this because we want to get the customer to see that the present situation is not good, not even acceptable – and that the opportunities or threats lurking around the corner are closer than we think.
From logic to feeling to value based selling
In B2C, people have worked successfully for many years with appealing to consumers’ feelings, while we in B2B have focused on ROI and spreadsheets to win business. This has changed.
We are seeing more and more evidence that feelings steer more than logic – even in complex B2B decisions. I see this in our own sales operations and I’m hearing it from others. Customers are buying when it feels right, otherwise letting things remain as they have always been.
We are losing business to non-decisions. The proof that we are buying on feelings is that we buy from those we like. Liking someone is definitely a feeling, and for this reason, anything that establishes trust is, and always has been, extremely important in sales and value based selling.
Formula for a value message or how to structure
Then how do we build a value message? In a simplified form, you could set it up as follows:
- We describe the area in which we will be helping our customer (WHAT).
- We show how we will attain the results together (HOW).
- We summarize and explain the results this will provide to our customer (RESULTS).
- So if you take your product and make it into a tool that you need for creating end-results for your customer – what is your approach?
In my case as a lecturer, it would be like this:
“In my lectures, I provide examples of how successful sales organizations in B2B that work with complex sales reach their sales goals (WHAT) by combining traditional value-based sales with new digital channels for meeting customers where they are, and in this way, entering their buying process earlier (HOW), which leads to the sales rep strengthening his or her personal brand, being perceived as an advisor and coming out to higher quality customer meetings (RESULTS).”