Almost every business claims to have better people, better service, and more technical expertise than all their competitors. The trouble is their competitors often say the same thing. And they all can’t be right.
This factor then becomes even more muddied when you ask salespeople what they believe value-added to be. Some claim their customers require more frequent visits, whereas others believe this to be their expertise.
However, the one thing that defines value in the customer’s eyes is overlooked by most of those in the selling field, and that is, buyer value can only defined by the customer, not the supplier. Because it doesn’t matter what the salesperson thinks the value is, it only matters what the customer believes it to be, and because customers don’t always think the same, the operating definition of value-added varies from customer to customer.
Do you Understand Value-Added Selling?
Sadly, most salespeople don’t, because value-added selling is more than just a selling concept or some kind of new selling technique. Many of the people I’ve spoken to seem to think they know what it is, but in most cases fail to understand value-added selling really is.
The reality is, value-added selling is a way to enhance a packaged solution for the prospect that tends to promise a lot, but in essence, when handled with only the buyers needs in mind it will usually deliver more – usually exceeding the customer’s expectations.
Put even more simply, value-added selling is a proactive way for the salesperson to personally take the initiative to add value. In essence, it’s handled in a similar way to the way a professional pre-handles an objection by building more value up-front so that price becomes a lesser issue during the selling process.
Value-added selling is simply a course of action taken by the salesperson based on trust, because trust is the basis of relationship. The philosophy here is simple, if two people trust each other and want to do business with each other, they will work out the details. Buyers may have a preference for brands, but they will set aside their loyalty for the people they like.
Value-added selling is the desire to achieve win-win outcomes for both the buyer and seller alike, however, the transactions should be more about the buyer than the seller because it’s their problem; their money and a solution they must live with.
Furthermore, value-added selling should be about the customer and not the seller. If the seller defines value in customer terms, they are prepared to pay a little more. But when a seller imposes ‘value’ on the customer the seller pays for it with a bigger discount.
Because of this customer value focus, value-added salespeople approach the sale by looking for where they can help achieve the greatest impact on the customer’s business. By doing this, the seller helps the buyer achieve higher levels of success, because the salesperson’s attitude are primarily the essential motivators of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
When the salesperson understands these principles, they will also be aware that if they sell the product only, they open the field up to competitors. Alternately, caring salespeople add-value with their problem solving skills, knowledge, ability to get things done and initiative.
THE ROLE OF THE VALUE-ADDED SALESPERSON
In traditional selling, salespeople focus on pursuing new business. In fact, some are so obsessed with finding new business or developing new opportunities they often ignore existing customers in the process. Whereas salespeople focused on customer satisfaction will follow up, and its during this follow up they discover additional opportunities for business.
The value-added salesperson’s role evolves throughout the sales process and parallels the buyer’s needs into greater business opportunities by cross selling additional products or services. Whereas traditional salespeople are focused on selling products, value-added salespeople are focused on solving problems.
Perhaps a better way of putting it may be that where a traditional salesperson will attempt to create buyer’s needs in order to sell a product or service, alternately salespeople focussed on value-adding on behalf of the customer seek to understand the buyer’s needs and to act accordingly, and where traditional salespeople primarily focus on making deals, those salespeople that focus on value-adding are the ones that want to make a difference for the customer.
The fundamental difference in the two groups is that the primary focus and selling skill for traditional salespeople is closing, whereas the primary focus and selling skill for value-added salespeople is listening and adapting what they’ve heard the primary needs of the customers are and marrying solutions to suit – whether they be product or service oriented solutions.
Here are some pointers on Value-Adding
When applying value-adding as a sales concept, not only will today’s effective salespeople need to create far more positive business relationships with everyone they work with, but they will also need to further fine-tune their current skills in asking questions, listening constructively as well as understanding better ways of flushing out deeper needs of their customers.
These are the same salespeople who want to understand what each customer considers to be valuable to them, and then can work at applying creative solutions to what those customers value in their every day business. It’s then, and only then that the salesperson will be considered to be worthwhile and effective value-added sellers by the client.
But the most encouraging thing here is that each of these value-added selling skills can be learned. That’s right, a learned behaviour we can all benefit from. The fact is, no-one has ever been born with the ability to ask penetrating questions, or create positive relationships, or listen constructively, or even develop creative proposal and solutions.
Remember, there has never been a natural-born salesperson, nor ever will be. Some think they may have natural selling talents, and we’ve all met many of them, but on closer examination they are generally fast-talking bullies that verge on unethical behaviour and most don’t last long in the sales field anyway.
The good bit here is that the knowledge and processes that are applied by the best and most effective of the value-added salespeople can also be learned by anyone in sales today. Then once a minimum level of expertise is accomplished, these same (now retrained) salespeople can continually improve on these more enhanced behavioural skills of the rest of their selling career – and will only get better over time at serving their customers at optimum levels.