Functions, features, and prices don’t excite your customers or sell your B2B products — the positive changes these elements will make in their lives and businesses do.
Helping buyers see these outcomes is what value-based selling is all about.
Today, you will come away with a full overview of how to integrate the value-based selling methodology into your sales style.
That way, you can win more deals and spend less time haggling over the price.
What Is Value-Based Selling?
Value-based selling is a sales method that focuses on emphasizing and making clear the value customers will receive from your product or service.
In B2B sales, this value is often in the form of return-on-investment (ROI), but it can also stand for other benefits such as problems solved, time saved, or business goals realized.
The key in using this method is to focus on selling the positive effects that the purchase will have on the buyers’ lives and businesses.
Instead of focusing on the shiny features of a product, you spend most of your time discussing the outcome of those features.
For instance, if you were selling lead generation software, instead of harping on its fancy automation tech, you would tell them about a world where salespeople spend less time scouring the web for leads and more time on the phone with prospects.
If you were selling a content marketing service, you would discuss how content marketing will grow their business, give them more leads, etc.
With this method, you make it easier for your customers to justify purchasing and implementing your product or service.
Value-based selling helps you close more deals, increase retention rates, and sell higher-ticket items without the deal becoming gridlocked in price negotiations.
Why Should You Care About Value-Based Selling?
Value-based selling is becoming more and more popular as a selling methodology, especially among B2B salespeople who sell up-market solutions.
Besides the fact that it paints a clearer picture to the customer of why they should have this solution, it offers a number of benefits. Let’s look at them.
Higher Customer Retention
When customers have a clear image of the benefits they are receiving from your solution, they are less likely to think it a waste when they see your company name on their expenses sheet.
When an ROI or other valuable effect is attached to you, you are sort of like a well-performing sales rep. Management won’t want to cut you.
When you paint a detailed picture of how the customer’s life will change with your solution, they will know what to expect.
That is much better for retention.
Leading with the results you can offer prevents the users from developing false expectations, which can really hurt the relationship.
More Chance for Upsells and Referrals
If you consistently deliver on the value that you promised at the outset, your clients will trust you and want to keep buying what you have to sell.
This makes upsells and cross-sells easier.
It also increases your chances of being recommended to a client’s peer or colleague, as the client will be more likely to refer other people from their circle to you if they’re happy with the results they get from doing business with you.
Less Negotiating on Price
When your prospect has a specific number or outcome in their heads of what your solution will bring to their business, they are less likely to push back on price.
If a B2B sales rep makes a strong case that a software platform will reduce a prospect’s operating costs by $5000 a month, and the solution costs $500, the prospect will probably find the pricing fair.
How to Achieve Value-Based Sales
There are many ways to integrate value-based selling into your sales management strategy or your day-to-day sales activities.
Most of all, it’s about adopting the right mindset — always searching for ways to provide value to the buyer.
Here are some tactics and perspectives to adopt so you can start achieving value-based selling.
Listen to Your Customers
In order to paint the most valuable outcome for your prospect, you have to know which one their. You have to know what they value, whether it’s saved time or reduced paperwork.
Everyone wants something different out of the purchase. Some people buy jackets to keep warm, others to look stylish. So you need to learn what’s important to each specific customer.
To figure these things out, you have to listen.
More than that, you also have to influence them to speak their minds and share with you their goals, desires, needs, and pain points.
Then, you can craft a post-purchase world that speaks to their wants.
Here are two methods to use to listen more effectively and get your prospects talking.
- The 2-Second Rule: After they finish speaking, wait two seconds before taking your turn. Often they will have afterthoughts to share that you would have missed if you had spoken too soon.
- Mirroring: This is a psychological trick popularized by FBI negotiator Chris Voss. Simply repeat the last couple of words in a questioning tone to your prospect. If they said: “we have been busy lately,” you could reply: “busy lately?” — and they would elaborate, revealing key information.
In addition to gaining material to craft your valuable post-purchase world, you also form trust with your prospects when you listen.
Focus on the Customers’ Experience
When you focus on discussing the customer experience that they will have, you raise their perceived value of your offer.
That is because people rarely buy things for their features. They buy the item for the experiences that come with owning it.
When someone buys a new pair of dress shoes, they might pretend to care about the Italian leather, when in reality, all they are thinking about is how dapper they will look upon entering their favorite bar and all the compliments they will receive from their friends.
Pro Tip: One of the most powerful words in sales is “imagine”. Your prospects will see whatever you say following that word in their mind’s eye. So, say it often.
It is critical that you spend a lot of time demonstrating what life will look like after the purchase.
That could mean discussing all the things prospects will be able to do with their extra time or showing them case studies where your clients saw huge revenue boosts to their businesses.
Look for Shared Benefits
As a value-focused sales rep, you should look for ways to create value for both your clients and your own business.
Instead of just thinking of the client as providing you with a sum of money, find other ways that the relationship will benefit you and your company, and share your excitement about it with the buyer.
This will make the customer feel more valued.
Customers, like salespeople, like to feel as though they are helping someone.
For example, let’s say you were selling your writing services to a CRO that wants someone to ghostwrite their LinkedIn posts.
You might mention on the sales call that you are excited about this potential partnership because it would give you a great outlet for your creative ideas and insights that need a home.
If you sold proptech software to a hospital management company, you could mention how you are excited to work with the prospect’s company because you will gain insider knowledge on the ins and outs of healthcare property management.
Obviously, in both these cases, what you are most excited about is probably the revenue.
However, the buyer feels good knowing they are helping you and your business in a special way. It’s more fun than just buying something from someone.
Pro Tip: With your happiest customers, consider conducting a network sift, where you both look through each others’ networks to find connections with whom you would like introductions. This is a great way to make your relationship even more fruitful, and it is the perfect way to get referrals.
Focusing on shared benefits will help your relationship grow.
Be an Educator, Not a Seller
Before pitching your product, you should educate your clients on the product and the market.
This means discussing which types of businesses it works for, why clients usually buy it, and what problems it is built to solve.
Context helps clients grasp the value of your offer.
It helps to step into the buyer’s shoes to see how confusing immediate pitches are to the uninitiated buyer.
For instance, if you were a business owner evaluating a martech software and knew nothing of marketing automation, a pitch on the first call, without any background, would just confuse you.
So, during your initial calls, you should talk about industry trends and new best practices used by companies like that of the customer.
Also, ask them what they know about your product and product type.
Then, fill in the gaps of what they don’t understand. This will all serve to paint you as a trusted advisor, rather than a mere salesperson.
Your customers will then start to think of you as their go-to resource.
Even if they aren’t ready to buy now, they will continue coming back whenever they have relevant questions and, in time, might purchase from you.
Your value-based pitches will also be more potent because you will have already shown them, why your product or service is so valuable, without even selling to them.
Keep Your Eye on Your Competitors
To be a value-based seller, you have to familiarize yourself with your competitors’ products. This will help you differentiate your offer from theirs.
That way, you won’t fall into a situation where the company that offers the lowest price wins the customer’s allegiance.
Often, especially in tech sales, you will have more than one competitor. That means it can be hard to keep all of their information in your head.
To lighten the load on your mind, create a document that lists out each competitor.
For each one, write how your service differs from theirs, how it offers more value, and why customers choose you over them.
It’s critical to have a succinct ten to twenty-second summary of why you are better than each competitor.
Think of these as your differentiator pitches. You can use them when your customers ask, “why should we choose you over X?”
Back Your Claims With Positive Reviews
Sometimes the value you promise will be hard for a prospect to believe. That is where social proof helps tremendously.
A testimonial or a case study will give you enough proof for backing up your claims.
If you say, “our clients have seen their sales revenue double from our solution,” and the prospect rolls their eyes, you can smile and whip out a case study that details how that actually happened to a real customer.
After seeing that a company like them received such value from your business, they will be more excited about working with you.
Here are some great ways to back your claims:
- Online reviews.
- Research studies.
- Case studies.
- Positive social mentions of your brand.
- Magazine or blog press coverage.
When your prospects see others having success with your project, they will start to feel like they are missing out on all the fun.
Moreover, the perceived risk of purchase will diminish, making it easier to close the sale.
Don’t Rush the Sales Pitch
In value-based selling, you want your prospects to realize and see the value on their own.
You want to avoid shoving it in their faces. Don’t rush into pitch-mode right when you get them on the phone.
Instead, take your time to ask questions, and try to learn as much about their business processes and needs as possible.
Discover what they are looking for and what they see as valuable. That will be your material for crafting your pitch later on.
Go into the first phone call with the mindset that you are attempting to figure out if they are a good fit for your solution.
That way, your mind will bend towards curiosity rather than the hunger for a sale, and you will find yourself spending more time asking relevant open-ended questions and less time preaching benefits.
Not only will this make sure you only allow qualified buyers into your pipeline, thereby saving you time, but it also puts the buyer at ease. Comfort is a key ingredient in the formation of the symbiotic relationship you are trying to achieve in value-based selling.
Build Your Relationship on Trust
The fact that some define “selling” as building trust with a buyer shows you how paramount trust is. Without it, you just can’t convince or sell.
Trust grows naturally throughout the relationship, so it is a bit harder to give you tips on how to build it.
The more honest statements you make, the more deadlines you hit, and the more expectations meet after setting them, the more your clients will trust you.
It is easier to list actions that will degrade trust and tell you what not to do.
Never Make Incorrect Statements
Imagine if a buyer asked you if your competitor offered a certain feature, and you answered no, when in actuality, you weren’t one hundred percent sure if they did.
The buyer goes into the meeting with the competitor, learns that they have this feature — and decides not to work with you because you “lied”, even though it was unintentional.
The lesson is if you are unsure, just say you don’t know and that you will get back to them later.
Always Follow Through With a Promise
Sometimes a salesperson might say, “I’ll get you the contract by the end of today”, in an effort to seem dedicated to winning their business.
However, the sales rep ends up being super busy and doesn’t send it until the following day.
Even if it’s just a day late, the buyer now thinks that the rep fails to stick to their word. This could ruin trust and a deal.
Therefore, you should never fail to follow through with a promise, just like you should never doctor the truth.
Even if you feel like an answer to their question might hurt the sale, answer candidly. They might dislike the answer, but at least they will trust you.
Know That It’s Not All About the Price
In value-based selling, you are trying to demote the price from a deciding factor to an almost negligible one.
You want your clients to buy because of the value they will obtain, not because the product is cheap.
In fact, your goal is to make your product or service as close to priceless as possible. To achieve this goal, focus on talking about the value your solution offers.
Also, when price does come up, keep in mind that your customers perceive price as a value.
The higher the price the more valuable it is in their eyes.
Try your best to avoid giving discounts or price-slashes, because that will put into question the utility of your product or service.
Customers might start to wonder if your product is truly as valuable as you claim.
Further, if you are selling with the monthly recurring revenue model, you will be locked in at that low price for a while, and when it’s time to re-sign the contract, it can be very difficult to raise the rates.
If you want to upsell, the total post-upsell price will be lower than usual, since you are starting from a lower price level but can’t increase the price jump.
Solve Your Client’s Problems With Your Service
One of the best ways to demonstrate value is by showing how your solution will help your clients solve their problems.
A lot of the time, this is why people are making a purchase in the first place. Something is off, and they want to fix it.
So, you should be discussing the outcomes that your prospects will enjoy, the problems they will no longer suffer.
To help them see the value of your offer, you first need to get the prospect thinking about how bad their problem is and the negative consequences and costs of letting it fester.
Sometimes your prospects will be less familiar with their own difficulties than you assume.
So, during the early phases of the sales cycle, you should help them see other parts of the problem that they might have missed.
Remember, your job is to educate.
For instance, maybe one of your clients is struggling to write enough blog content and therefore feels they are missing out on building brand awareness and the leads that come with it.
You agree, but with your industry expertise, you mention something that further agitates the problem.
You state that they are also probably losing deals because their salespeople don’t have written enablement content to help nudge their prospects through the pipeline.
In value-based selling, you have to make the prospects see every shade of the problem. Only then will they realize the true value of having a solution to it.
Keep in Touch With Your Clients
With every interaction between you and your clients, there is a chance to deliver value.
That can be in the form of mentioning their name on a LinkedIn post they might enjoy or sending them an email asking how everything is going with the service.
If your relationship is strong enough, you could even send them a podcast you listened to and a reason why it made you think of them.
Letting people know they were in your thoughts works wonders.
Customers will constantly be reminded of the value you and your business bring to their lives — and they will stick around.
Your product doesn’t have to carry all of the responsibility for creating value. You can contribute in the following ways:
- Share articles and content with them they might enjoy.
- Ask them for feedback on how you can improve their user experience.
- Keep track of and bring up their information such as birthdays.
- Mimic their communication style, so they feel comfortable.
- Introduce them to peers in the industry they might enjoy talking with.
Keep in touch with your clients and continue growing your relationship. That human connection is valuable in itself.
Value-based selling is an effective methodology to implement into your B2B sales strategy.
It will help you land more clients, command higher prices, and retain customers. A salesperson focused on finding creative ways to bring value to their customers is a successful salesperson.