For sales professionals, the driving goal is often to make the sale — no matter what. While this is a natural quality of the sales profession, consider the idea that there may be a more ideal focus: the customer. In an approach known as the value-based selling methodology, the customer is always at the forefront of the process.
Over time, the global market has become more competitive. Centering the customer is one of the best tactics sales professionals can adopt to help themselves stand out in an oversaturated industry. The time has come for sales professionals to upgrade their sales approach to consider the customer’s needs and desires through research, discussion, and collaborative strategy. Fortunately, all of this and more can be accomplished through value-based selling.
What Is Value-Based Selling?
Value-based selling is a principle that shifts the focus during the sales approach from how to close the sale to how to benefit the customer. In this approach, sales professionals aim to place the customer’s needs above all. As they help the prospective customer through the sale, the sales representative provides information that helps the prospect make an informed decision based on their unique wants and needs.
The core principle behind value-based selling is to consistently demonstrate to the customer the value of the product or service. The customer then decides to buy as a result of the clear value the product can offer them. The value-based selling approach should remove unneeded pressure and aggressive tactics from prospect interactions. Focusing instead on the customer’s needs helps sales professionals build positive long-term relationships with the client.
What Are the Advantages of Value-Based Selling?
In the modern business world, it is easy for clients to feel inundated with pressure to buy solutions without a clear idea of why they should. The constant flux of advancing technology, increasing consumer expectations, and worldwide competition makes the issue even more complex. However, as a form of customer value management, a value-based selling framework can help sales professionals answer the questions that are most important to their customers.
In light of the recent economic slowdown, many companies are thinking long and hard before investing in new products and services. Because of this, salespeople must be prepared to convince their prospects that the product is valuable enough to warrant new expenses.
Value-based selling may not be new, but it carries major advantages in the current economic climate. As subscription-based models continue to grow, maintaining value in the eyes of the customer is key. In the subscription economy, 90% of the interaction between a salesperson and a client happens during the ongoing relationship after a prospect becomes a customer, with only a small portion happening during the prospect stage. Demonstrating value isn’t only part of a sales pitch, but the sales process offers sales professionals an opportunity to set the stage for the way their product or service will consistently and convincingly deliver value over time.
One of the primary advantages of the value-based selling process is that it gives sales professionals the tools to quantify the value of their product or service to the customer. Value-based selling provides sales representatives with a clear view of what their customers are willing to pay for and why. When professionals are dialed in to the customer’s key value items, they are able to provide prospects with an improved shopping experience. When customers are equipped with the right information, they are much more likely to make a purchase.
Sales professionals should remain wary of the potential blind spots of value-based selling techniques, including competitor prices and unpredictable variability among clients.
What Are Some Examples of Value-Based Selling?
While value-based selling takes many forms, one great example is power base selling, developed by Jim Holden. In his book, The New Power Base Selling, Holden imagines sales as a management science. While the original Power Base Selling focused on the politics of sales, Holden’s newest methods zero in on strategy and value. Holden’s version of value-based selling encourages sales professionals to maximize value to the prospect at all times.
Holden’s approach to value-based selling focuses on:
- Creating “unexpected value” for the customer and their organization
- Developing strategies and sales tactics that can be replicated by entire teams
- Using social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as mediums for demonstrating value
- Boosting customer satisfaction and standing out in the industry
Reading The New Power Base Selling and other value-based selling books can help sales representatives learn how to develop demand by creating unique and consistent value for their customers.
7 Habits of Highly Effective Value-Based Selling
Effectively implementing a value-based selling model involves focused research, planning, and training. Companies seeking to utilize value-based selling should develop a training program for their salespeople. Those starting out can look to these 7 habits of highly effective value-based sellers:
1. Conducting Research
Any basic value-based selling definition emphasizes placing the needs of the prospect first in order to make a sale. By nature, value selling requires sales professionals to have a deep understanding of their client’s needs. Conducting research is an important step in learning about the prospect’s needs.
Common information to look for prior to a sales meeting includes:
- Information about their organization and specific vertical
- A clear background or history on the company
- Any current challenges they are facing
- Current and long-term goals
By taking the time to research the prospect, professionals can glean the information they need to provide meaningful service. Prior to setting up a call, sales professionals can conduct research via mediums like:
A Google search is one of the best ways to conduct initial research on a prospect and their organization. By perusing relevant websites, reviews, and interactions, sales representatives can gain a deeper sense of the company and its needs. Conducting additional research on their competitors can broaden the sales professional’s understanding of the industry as a whole and their prospect’s place within it.
Company Website or Blog
A company’s website or blog is often the best place to learn about any recent press releases, administrative changes, or upcoming products.
Social Media Channels
A prospect’s social media channels can provide valuable insight into their organization’s goals. To effectively utilize value-based selling, sales professionals should use social media channels to gain a sense of key value items and company goals. Learning which channels the organization uses and how it interacts with its followers and customers can reveal which customer-service approaches the company prioritizes and values.
Among other social channels, LinkedIn is a great place to learn more about both the broader company and the sales professional’s individual contact at that organization, too. Learning more about the contact’s role and previous experience can point toward some of their own values and can hint at possible pain points your product or service might specifically help alleviate, too.
When searching on LinkedIn, focus on finding information such as:
- The contact’s current role
- The amount of experience that contact has with similar products or services
- The contact’s area of expertise
- Common acquaintances, business partners, or connections
2. Being Approachable
A value-based selling model seeks to remove aggressive sales tactics from the equation. Instead, sales professionals should focus on maintaining a friendly tone when interacting with prospects. One of the keys to value-based selling is to genuinely place the needs of the client at the forefront of the process. Being approachable is an effective way to achieve that goal.
When it comes to developing a personable sales approach as a part of value-based selling, sales professionals should focus the conversation on the client’s perspective. They can do this by asking questions about the client’s goals and needs, maintaining a conversational tone, and building trust with the prospect through natural conversation that prioritizes listening before jumping in to offer solutions.
3. Demonstrating Value
The driving force behind a value-based selling approach is demonstrating the value of the product or service as it pertains specifically to the prospect. The sales professional’s main responsibility is to show the client that their product is the best solution for their organization.
For this technique to work, the sales professional should be able to articulate their understanding of the client’s needs — as well as the specific benefits of the product that will address those particular needs. Price is a factor for many buyers, but when they’re looking for solutions, they want to know why a product is worth the expense. Other ways to demonstrate value include:
- Using real-world examples that apply to the prospect
- Detailing any training or support that comes with the product
- Outlining the ways the product can grow with the organization over time
- Always aligning the pitch with the most pressing needs of the customer
4. Offering Educational Resources
Providing educational resources to the client is a simple way to add value without pressuring the prospect to buy. Sales professionals have the opportunity to build a sense of reliability and authority by educating the prospect about the product. This includes walking the client through the specific ways that the product will help elevate their business. Not all resources have to be directly tied to the product or solution, either. Great prospect education should also include the sales professional sharing knowledge or expertise about the prospect’s challenges.
This tactic works well with the conversational tone of value-based selling. When a sales professional asks organic questions to learn more about the prospect, a natural opportunity arises for the professional to coach them through ways to approach their challenges and goals.
5. Not Forcing a Classic Sales Pitch
One of the most important value-based selling skills is to master the art of organically pitching the product. While classic sales pitches are often conspicuous, sales professionals using value-based methods have the opportunity to demonstrate value throughout the entire sales process versus simply pitching at the beginning or end of the conversation.
Value-based selling relies on research and organic conversation. When done well, the sales representative will be pitching the product throughout their interaction with the prospect. While it is often still necessary to prompt the client with a final pitch, the prospect should be able to clearly see the value of the product well before the end of the conversation.
When sales professionals focus on the client’s unique challenges throughout the conversation, they’ll find ample opportunities to detail the ways that the product will help the prospect and their organization.
6. Tailoring the Process to the Prospect
One of the advantages of a value-based selling method is the flexibility it offers sales professionals. Every prospect brings their own challenges and goals to the conversation. Even very similar clients may yield vastly different sales processes. The sales professional should be prepared to address the client’s most pressing questions — and to prioritize those over the points the sales associate has prepared to touch on.
Sales representatives should listen to the prospect’s concerns and share relevant strategies for improvement. Experienced sales professionals can use their experience with other clients to provide examples of the way the product served similar clients in the past.
7. Adding Consistent Value
The value-based selling methodology is about offering consistent value to prospects over time. Sales professionals should focus on demonstrating value in some capacity every time they connect with their clients. This helps build long-term relationships between the client and sales associate.
Value-based selling training should include tips for being patient and compassionate with prospects at all times. Sales professionals should be equipped with resources to share with the clients that will help them in the sales process and beyond. Value-based selling puts the client first in every interaction.
Takeaways: Using a Value-Based Selling Approach
After the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, value-based selling is more important than ever. With businesses carefully considering every investment, sales professionals have an opportunity to connect with wary prospects by selling directly to the client’s goals and needs. When salespeople use these 7 habits in their sales process, they can reap the full benefits of value-based selling.
DecisionLink offers the perfect fit for brands looking to incorporate a value-based selling approach into their business in the form of ValueCloud® Professional Workbench. This solution helps value consultants, engineers, and managers elevate their value-selling resources and assets to meet the changing needs of the market. ValueCloud® includes the capacity to build, maintain, enhance, and store business value models. Contact DecisionLink to learn more about what value-based selling can do for your business.