The sales process can use various methodologies depending on a product or service. While there is no one-size fits all approach, understanding which is best to implement starts with a strong knowledge of what is being sold. Whether you have heard of value-based selling or watched this method in action, it can be an important contender in determining the approach your salespeople may use. In this post, we’ll examine the key details of this type of selling so you can determine its potential for your sales team.
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Value-based selling, also called value-added selling, is when a salesperson provides value to the customer during the sales process itself, not just after the solution has been implemented. Most definitions of value-based selling or value selling emphasize that you must communicate value. However, it is not enough to simply communicate value during the sales cycle, a salesperson has to create value for the prospect during the sales cycle.
For a true value-based selling approach, a salesperson does not tell the customer what they should value from their solution. Instead, the potential client must come to their own conclusion that the solution presented to them will solve their challenge, alleviate frustrations, or achieve their aspirations. A salesperson can help a customer conclude for themselves that their solution is valuable through discovery, attentive listening, and a buyer-centric selling approach.
Before using value selling methodology, your sales team should first develop its framework. This outline helps define goals and how to reach them. Failing to develop this broader perspective can mean the difference between success and poor results.
Work on defining and underscoring a unique selling proposition (USP). When sales teams have a clear view of what this product or service brings to the table, they focus on bringing that realization to the prospect. What sets this asset apart from competitors, and how will that value be presented from a consulting and sales perspective?
Building relationships with prospects is part of value-based selling. The focus should be on getting the most from every sale rather than simply having the most sales. Your team can lengthen their sales cycle, focus on quality over quantity, and ensure they are meeting prospects where they are on their buying journey by doing their research.
Dedicating time to having high and low-level knowledge of products and services helps a selling proposition stand out from the rest. However, this has to be cushioned with the ability to teach. Providing value during every step, including meaningful connecting and follow-up messages, shows prospects that your team is a resource and committed to understanding their pain points.
Value-based selling follows a few principles that differ from other sales methods. These principles give a high-level approach that can be refined for specific presentations and prospects. Salespeople must take a more consultative outlook on value-based selling, so the methodology is meant to mirror consultant behaviors to reframe mindsets through a more advisory lens.
Increased Revenue: Sometimes, showing a prospect the real dollars and cents will resonate the most. With the help of your team’s value-selling framework, approach this method by introducing how much it will make a difference on paper. The more clearly a prospect can see the change a product or service will bring to their business, whether that be monthly, quarterly, or annually, the more appealing the solution becomes.
Funds Saved: Perhaps your team’s approach doesn’t focus on financial growth. That’s okay — savings can be more enticing to some prospects rather than increased revenue; it’s all about the business. Highlight where losses can be avoided and play into the bottom line. This can be a more intriguing approach for those focused on efficiencies.
Lowered Risk: While this may not be possible for all prospects, reducing potential risks is an opportunity no business can afford to overlook. If your team can concretely demonstrate how a product or service will lower issues a specific company faces, they may receive a stronger response than other methodologies.
Quality Growth: Measurable change can’t always be accomplished through numbers. Qualitatively explaining how a product or service can add value to a prospect is best backed by quantitative data. Lean into the knowledge of pain points and work on the message of how they can be mitigated.
Here are five value selling guidelines salespeople should adhere to during their sales interactions:
Another way to think about value-based selling is to ask this question: Would the potential client consider paying for the sales interactions alone?
This may sound like a ridiculous notion, but this is what it means to be a counselor or a decision coach. A decision coach will help their prospects find the solution that is best suited for the prospect’s company and help determine the buying process. In B2B or B2G sales, the prospects usually have to make a very complex decision. Not only is it difficult to understand the solution landscape, but it can be hard to even define the problem and the desired outcomes among the decision makers.
This is why a sales rep that is seeking to be a decision coach can provide tremendous value to the prospects during their sales interactions. Modern sales cycles are complicated for both the buyer and the seller. The salesperson that makes it the easiest to get to a good decision will be seen as a counsellor and most likely wins that deal.
Whenever someone is making a complicated decision, it is beneficial to consider the desired final outcomes and what success would look like. After all, how are you supposed to know the best solution to achieve your goals if you don’t have a clear idea of what your goals actually are?
Unfortunately, prospects don’t always do the due diligence needed to think about a successful outcome. Most will have a general idea, but a salesperson that is selling with a value-based approach will help their potential clients settle on what a successful outcome would be.
In this case, a sales rep adhering to value selling would do their best to understand the current circumstances at their prospect’s company. They would then share insights as to how other business leaders have defined their goals in similar initiatives. This can help prospects set both qualitative and quantitative goals to measure success from the initiative. It’s the sort of counseling during a sales interaction that a prospect might consider paying for.
Once a salesperson has a good understanding of their potential client’s circumstances and they have helped their prospects define success, it is time to decide if their company can deliver the value that the prospective customer is looking for.
This is a vital question that every sales rep must ask if they want to sell with a value-based approach. There are many reasons why your company’s solution may not be a good fit. After each sales interaction, the rep needs to consider whether or not they can still deliver what the prospects are expecting. If the answer is ever no, then it is important to walk away from that opportunity and focus on deals where the rep can help achieve the prospect’s desired outcome.
An ill-prepared sales rep can seldom provide value during a sales interaction. It doesn’t have to be a meticulous or detailed plan, but there are some general items that a seller should always be prepared with before a call. This will ensure that sales reps are providing value throughout the upcoming sales call.
Here are a few questions salespeople should always consider, responses of which can be used to prepare for the call:
If a sales rep at least thinks about these questions and plans for the sales call ahead of time, they will always share the right information exactly when it is relevant for the prospect. They will inevitably create value for the prospect during every sales call.
Modern sales cycles involve multiple decision makers. Each decision maker might have a different set of priorities. For example, a CEO might care most about the reporting functionality of a CRM, while a sales enablement professional would be concerned with the learning platform integrations.
Each stakeholder and decision maker has a different reason why they are interested in a solution. While they might have some common goals, it is possible for decision makers to also have different ideas of a successful outcome. These dynamics can make it very difficult for an organization to reach consensus on a decision.
This is where a value-based approach can really shine through. A sales rep adhering to value selling principles would work closely with each stakeholder to identify where each decision maker is in their own individual decision journey. It is the sales rep’s job to find out what is important to each stakeholder, and to present a solution that can satisfy all the competing priorities. Having the skills to build this sort of consensus would certainly help provide value during a sales call.
In summary, the way to create value during every sales interaction is to be consultative and turn into a decision coach for your prospects. This demands that salespeople place the customer at the center of all their decisions during the sales process. Find out what each decision maker cares about and aim to provide exactly what they are looking for at every step. This is the value-based selling approach that will help sales organizations perform at their highest level.
A sales team may focus on a solution-selling approach without even recognizing it. During this approach, salespeople present a product or service as the solution to a company’s problems. The process behind solution selling involves the salesperson diagnosing a prospective customer's needs before suggesting the right option to accommodate those needs. In some cases, the prospect may not be aware that they have this problem or its significance to their business. As a result, it is up to the salesperson to thoroughly analyze circumstances before introducing their product or service as an option to mitigate concerns.
Sales teams may implement solution selling for highly customized options, specifically targeting metrics that relate directly to that prospect. Sales techniques for this kind of strategy are meant to focus more on the “why” this option is valuable rather than specifically “what” it is. The solution-selling approach is more empathetic, making the product or service features resonate more fully. However, there can be drawbacks when taking this approach. The conversation may be inorganic if the sales presentation is based on a question-and-answer format. Another concern is that businesses today are already aware of the solutions they need; thus, the salesperson cannot find gaps that haven’t been realized.
While both selling methodologies have their place in the market, one may lend itself better to certain products or services over the other. Where solution selling focuses on alleviating a problem or helping a company reach their goals, value-based selling moves past the concept of a solution into the direct results. This can be a valuable perspective for prospects who are more concerned with the ROI of something rather than the features.
Before conducting a sales call, either method may ask similar questions to prospects to understand their unique pain points. But by the time the call comes around, the approach starts to branch apart. Value-added selling will attach a number to their sales approach and follow through on how that number can be impacted by implementing their product or service. A solution-based approach may follow an empathetic pattern, sharing unquantifiable specifics. When reaching the negotiation stage, value-based sellers will reinforce the ROI, whereas solution-based sellers tend to advise and advocate for their product or service.
The most effective method tends to be the one that suits your salespeople best, coupled with the ability to shine a light on a product or service. Consider reviewing both approaches and evaluating which might resonate best with prospective customers.
Are you interested in learning more about value-based selling and how it can transform your team’s process and pitches? To implement a value-based selling approach, reach out to us at Funnel Clarity today for a free 30-minute sales funnel consultation.
Tom Snyder is the founder of Funnel Clarity; a training and consulting company focused on humanizing sales. Snyder’s passion is helping companies achieve measurable sales performance improvement. Previously, Snyder spent 10 years with the sales training firm Huthwaite Inc, culminating in the role of CEO. He later founded Business Performance Partners, a sales and strategy consulting firm that evolved into Funnel Clarity. Snyder is a sought after international speaker and was named one of the Most Influential Sales Leaders. He has authored two McGraw Hill best sellers, “Escaping the Price Driven Sale” (2007) and “Selling in a New Market Space” (2010).