In a world filled with sales reps trying to make quota, the same goal remains: close the sale. Yes, as a sales professional, your job is ultimately to sell. However, what if selling for the sake of selling wasn’t your main mission?
Enter value-based selling.
Value-based selling is an approach that focuses on benefitting the customer throughout the sales process. Sales reps focus on taking a consultative approach to provide value to the customer so the sales decision is made based on the potential value the product can provide.
The goal with a value-based selling approach is to put the needs of the customer first, guiding them through the sales process to make an informed decision to best suit their needs (ideally, leading to the purchase of your product). This creates anticipation for the positive result having your product will provide in the mind of the customer.
For many prospects, they are bombarded with messages pressuring them to buy. Stand out from the competition and create long-term happy customers by providing more value than anyone else.
Principles of Value-Based Selling
1. Do your homework.
Remember, the goal of value-based selling is to close the sale by putting the needs of your prospect first. However, you can’t put your prospect’s needs first if you don’t know what their needs are. Before hopping on a sales call, it is critical you do your homework to understand your contact.
When researching a prospect, aim to understand their company and industry (particularly relevant in B2B sales), background, and current pain points. By understanding these pieces of information, you’ll be armed with a good idea of how to be of service to them.
Here is some information you may want to consider looking for as you prepare for your call:
- Their current role and previous job experience — A simple LinkedIn search can help you learn about your prospect’s career history. Are they new to their current role? This may mean they are still in the learning phase and could benefit from learning from you. Is this their first time making this type of purchasing decision or have they been in similar roles? If they have experience in this area, they may be more interested in expediting the process, so you can better serve them with efficiency.
- Common connections — If you have a common connection with a prospect, that can help you build trust with them faster. Additionally, the contact could help provide key insights to the prospect’s pain points and how you could provide value to them.
- Content shared on social media — If your prospect has a public Twitter or Facebook profile, checking out what content they have recently shared or engaged with can give you an idea as to what is currently important to them.
- Their company’s website, press, and social media pages — This will tell you if their company has undergone any recent leadership changes, is releasing a new product, or has been in the news.
- Their contact listing in your CRM — Before hopping on the phone with your prospect, check out their profile in your CRM. This will tell you if and when any of your colleagues have engaged with them, and what content from your company they have opened or engaged with.
Additionally, performing a simple Google search for their company’s competitors will give you a great deal of information about their industry landscape.
2. Don’t jump into your sales pitch too early.
Resist the temptation to dive into your sales pitch as soon as you get your prospect on the line. Though during the research phase you learned a great deal about their perspective, nothing beats hearing directly from your prospect themselves.
Before convincing them to make the sale with a generic pitch, give them space to explain their current situation and what they are looking for. In addition to helping you build trust with the prospect, not jumping immediately into your pitch can give you more insight into how you can best provide value to them and can help you position your product better for the sale.
3. Communicate how your product provides value to the customer.
If your prospect didn’t have a problem they were trying to solve or a need to fulfill, they wouldn’t be in the market for a new product. It sounds obvious but in order to help the customer understand why your product is the solution to their problem you have to understand and be able to clearly articulate why your product is the solution to their problem.
As you look to sell, make sure the benefits of your product are easy-to-understand and relevant to your prospect. For example:
- Is your product designed to reduce cycle time and improve productivity for those who use it?
- Does your company offer free training that will help customers quickly get up-to-speed after they have made their purchase?
- Does the purchase of your product include free automatic updates for customers to make their jobs easier?
Whatever those unique differentiators are for your offering, make sure they are aligned with the needs of the customer and use these points to guide your sales conversations.
4. Focus on teaching instead of selling.
One of the most effective ways to provide value to your prospects and customers is to help educate them on a topic of interest. When you take an education-first approach, you become their go-to resource for information which helps you build trust. Once trust is established, when the prospect is ready to buy, your offering is far more appealing because you have already demonstrated value instead of pushing the sale without any proof of value for the buyer.
For example, if you work in software sales, instead of running through a recycled sales pitch with a prospect you can first contact them asking what their top three challenges are. Then during your meeting instead of talking at them with slides, you can walk them through possible solutions they could take to solve their challenges in an informative, engaging way.
5. Guide the prospect through the buying process.
When taking a value-based approach, your role as a sales professional is to act as a consultant helping your prospect make the most informed purchasing decision. Share fresh ideas and strategies that can help your prospect improve their own competitive positioning avoiding the temptation to tell the prospect what to do.
For example, if your prospect asks if they should take an action that you would typically not recommend, share a real-life example of how taking said action resulted in a setback for another buyer. This helps your prospect maintain their position in the driver’s seat for their buying decision and helps you convey your message in an honest, helpful manner.
6. Keep a personable approach.
As you embark on value-based selling make sure you keep a conversational, personable tone when engaging with your prospects. This shows you have a genuine interest in them and are not merely talking at them to make the sale. Here are a few tips to help you keep things conversational:
- Ask open-ended questions — All of the questions you ask your prospect should be for the sake of genuinely getting to know them, and they should all require answers that require some explanation. Aim to not ask questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."
- Master the art of small talk — While small talk may be the bain of every introvert’s existence, there’s no denying it can be a powerful tool for building trust with your prospect. When in doubt, asking about their professional interests and responsibilities, or upcoming events they are planning or attending can be effective go-to topics.
- Speak as if you’re talking to a friend — Ultimately, you want the prospect to feel like they are receiving advice from a trusted advisor. Deliver your content the way you would deliver it to a friend to keep it personable and relatable.
If you’re looking for some helpful conversation starters, this post is full of great tips and examples.
7. Add value during every interaction.
Last but certainly not least, make sure you add value each time you engage with your prospect to continue building trust and creating a long-term positive experience. You want them to feel heard and supported each time they interact with you.
This could look like making sure you leave plenty of time to answer their questions in each meeting, not interrupting them when speaking, or even sharing helpful articles or content that is relevant to their business even when you aren’t actively engaged in a sales conversation. The small steps you take to make your prospect’s job easier can pay dividends in the long run.
The next time you approach a prospect, ask yourself "How can I provide as much value as possible?" The positive result may surprise you. For more advice to help you be a stronger seller, check out these actionable one-sentence sales tips.
Originally published Nov 12, 2019 7:30:00 AM, updated November 12 2019