I was looking for a new laptop and having a hard time deciding. Should I get more memory and power or buy a name brand with the same cost, but less power. I asked myself, “Which way should I go? Which laptop would last longer? Is the performance more important than the brand?” I wondered which I needed more, brand quality or performance?
Does this sound familiar? Making important buying decisions can be tough!
Part of my process involves considering my past experiences with purchasing computers. But really, it all boils down to what I value the most. And that’s what customers base their buying decisions on. All decisions ultimately come down to value. Will it make me more money, save me money, increase my productivity or improve my service?
One of the best questions I believe you can ask a prospect is “what’s most important to you?” This should be the foundation that moves the sale forward. It is their answer that conveys their reason for buying because it equates to what they value the most.
According to Thull, “If the sales process is focused solely on making the sale instead of the customer’s value achievement, there is no foundation for an extended relationship. This represents the abandonment of your most valuable source of business.”
Value equates to what the customer perceives as their benefits. Benefits are derived when you help them solve their problems. And, the more urgent their needs, the more they must understand the impact your solution provides.
The worst thing a sales person can do is start listing all the features and functions of their solution. You have no clue yet as to whether or not they will have any impact on the customer’s needs. A feature only becomes relevant to a customer when it meets a specific need – then it becomes a benefit.
Then why do sales professionals roll the dice with a hit or miss strategy that can jeopardize the sale?
I believe the answer is that sales people are more comfortable with communicating the specifics of a feature than taking the time and energy searching for the true needs of the customer.
They might also be afraid that their solution is not a good fit, and you know that no fit equals no sale. So they throw out a few features hoping to get lucky and strike a chord with the customer. A ‘wind-me-up’ talking head rarely finds success.
If you want a long term relationship, it requires building trust by giving the customer the value they are seeking. When you find out their needs, some of those features just might become benefits. Remember the formula: Value = Benefit OVER Cost.
The stronger the benefits, the faster the cost objections fall away.
According to Exceptional Selling, “The value gap is the chasm that exists between what value sellers believe they provide to their customers and what customers are willing to pay for – and the chasm that exists between the value the customer expects and the value that the customer ultimately achieves.”
The bottom line is this: as the sales person, you need to translate the value proposed to the value achieved for your customers. This will lead to sales success.
PS: For more information on providing customer value, read this article on using content to create value