Many sellers run into the challenge of defending the value of their solution to customers, particularly with more complex or expensive offerings, or with something that is perceived as a commodity. Many customers jump to the conclusion that there are cheaper options out there, which may be true. As a sales rep, your job then becomes to defend the price of your offering.
What do you do when what you sell is seemingly more expensive than your competition? Focus on the payoff, not the price when defending the value of your solution.
Essentially, the topic here is selling value. I sat down with our CEO, Tom Stanfill, to discuss.
Having The Value Conversation
Many sales reps try to avoid the topic of price altogether, hoping it’s not a factor. But the truth is, there will always be a less expensive option for our customers and prospects. So we need to be able to position the value of our solution in a way that helps our customers truly understand what we bring to the table.
The 3 Step Process
With nearly 3 decades of experience working with sales rep and sales leaders, Tom has triangulated in on the following commonalities among top performing salespeople who are consistently able to defend the value of their solution. We’ve distilled them into a three step process to help reps find more success in selling value and addressing the value gap.
Top sellers do the following:
1 – Live in Reality
Top performing sales reps are not afraid to ask the tough questions. They ask customers about what else they are seeing in the marketplace, what they’re currently looking at, what price they are willing to pay, what their budget is, etc.
They don’t shy away from this important part of the conversation with prospects. Many times, in fact most times, customers will simply ask for a lower price, even without another provider (another price) as an option. But even if they do have another opportunity, a cheaper option, sales reps need to uncover this information in order to effectively defend the value of their own solution.
If your offering costs 50K, and your competitor’s offering costs 10k, then you know there is a 40k difference, and you have to make the difference up somehow. A successful seller knows that this is reality.
We often refer to the movie clip from “Jaws” where the townspeople hold a meeting to hire someone to catch and kill the shark. They are willing to pay $3,000, but the captain positions his solution (the dead shark) for $10,000. He defends the value of his offering in a way that matters to the town (his customers).
Successful sales reps need to know that number, that gap, that reality. Top sellers know what that number is, and they know how to get it: by positioning their questions in a way that will help the customer, in an Other-CenteredⓇ way. Only then can sellers develop an effective strategy to defend the value of their solution.
People are so conditioned to negotiate – buyers are all taught to focus on price, not necessarily value. Of course, buyers will ask for a lower price. Why wouldn’t they? Therefore, sales reps need to be prepared to shift the conversation from price to value, by uncovering reality and addressing the gap.
Be bold enough to ask the questions to understand why there is a gap in value between your solution and the price. Once you do, you know your target. You have essentially three options. Sales reps, you can:
- Walk away.
- Lower your price, if it makes sense given the circumstances (what else is available in the marketplace, etc).
- Increase the payoff. Add value by increasing the benefits of what you offer with your solution.
Regardless, sellers need to live in reality, you need to uncover that information, so that you can develop your strategy accordingly and begin to establish and defend the value of your offer. Ask the tough questions, but position them in a way that is in the customer’s best interest.
2 – Validate the Customer’s Perspective
This is the step that everyone skips. It’s the least intuitive.
Once we understand that value gap, as sellers, we want to go to court and prove that we can bridge that gap. But first, it’s crucial that sales reps stop and make sure the customer feels that they have been heard and validated.
The receptivity of your audience is more important than your message. This is ASLAN’s Cornerstone Principle. Your customer’s willingness to listen to you is more important than your ability to articulate your message.
The customer needs to feel that you understand them and appreciate their perspective, or they will not follow where you want to lead. Your goal is for them to say “Exactly,” in response to your recap of their position. You need to demonstrate empathy and true understanding of what they’ve told you.
It’s a more consultative approach, instead of being combative. Negotiation sets you up as adversaries. Instead, sales reps need to approach the conversation as an attempt to collaborate and solve their problem together. Validating your customer’s point of view is essential, if you want them to truly hear and understand your position as you articulate the value of your solution.
3 – Tell the Truth
What’s the best way to overcome an objection? Tell the truth. Tell your customer exactly how it is. High performing sales reps know why it’s in the customer’s best interest to pay more, to pay for the value of their solution. So it’s easy for them to explain that, to tell the truth.
If you’re trying to bridge that value gap, you need to know (and communicate) the truth about why it is in your customer’s best interest to embrace your solution and pay more.
Sales reps, your customer only buys your solution once. But you sell your solution every day. You have an expertise to offer your prospects. You can help them reach the best decision for their business.
Be willing to have the tough conversations and not only assess, but accept, that your customer has other options. If you do this consistently, you will develop knowledge of why they should pay more, when they shouldn’t, what the payoff is. You need to know and articulate why it is in the customer’s best interest.
It’s not about manipulation, or winning an argument – it’s about telling the truth.
Finding Success in Selling Value
Be comfortable and confident about who you can serve. You may not be a fit for everyone. In fact, you won’t be. That’s okay.
Do your research, validate your customer, and tell the truth. Do this, and you will find much more success in defending the value of your solution to the customers who truly can benefit from buying your offering.