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3 Steps to Selling Value
“It’s not me, it’s you. No really. It’s all about your ‘issue.’”
These words might seem harsh during a dinner date, but they are music to the ears during a sales pitch.
Customers care about their needs and want to hear about solutions to their problems. It may seem selfish…but hey, the customer is always right. This customer-centric approach to sales was highlighted in the latest CEO Series Webinar, Value Selling for the Entrepreneur. Babson College entrepreneurship professor Tim Marken presented the webinar and shared tips for how small business owners can sell value, instead of a product or service.
Before detailing the three steps to selling value, Professor Marken explained mistakes that many small businesses make when pitching to a potential customer. Among the biggest mistakes noted by Marken was meeting a sales prospect and immediately talking about a product or service without asking questions. Value selling is a dialogue that requires engaging the customer and asking them questions about their needs. This brings us to step 1…
Step 1: Uncover the Business Issue.
In order to offer value to a customer, you must first understand what is important to that customer. You must learn about the issue the customer is trying to address and find out the consequences for various outcomes. The best way to uncover the priority issue is by asking questions. The first set of questions should be open-ended, the next should be probing and then finally confirming. The flow of questions allows you to identify the appropriate follow-up questions, probe to push the conversation along and ultimately confirm the benefits of solving the problem at hand. Asking the right questions establishes creditability and enables you to move towards trust and rapport.
Step 2: Differentiate Your Solution.
Once you identify the problem, you are now in a position to present your solution. The product or service that you are selling should be communicated in terms of how it can help to solve the customer’s problem. Feel free to re-use language iterated by the customer about what is important to the business and what is needed in the solution. The best way to differentiate your solution is by comparing it to the process already in place at the company. Think of the many ways in which your business can offer value, including terms of payment, quality of service, ability to deliver and on-going maintenance. Convince the prospect that you will return personal and business costs through greater value.
Step 3: Establish a Mutual Plan.
In order to really engage a prospect in a dialogue, you should work together to establish next step action items. When the conversation reaches the point for action, you and the customer really need to be on the same page. Ask about the prospect’s access to decision-makers or power to buy. Outline activities required by the prospect and by you and then set a timeline. If the plan moving forward is not mutual or clear, then the prospect will have difficulty selling your product or service to other decision-makers. A clear plan helps keep you in control during the sales process and adds predictability to the sale’s close.
Below, Professor Marken offers some final tips to small business owners about how to sell value. The full webinar is also available on ICIC’s Executive Insights and Business Tools page.
- Do not assume ever – then you are forced to ask questions all the time
- Don’t show up to throw up. (“Let ME tell YOU about our product and services.”)
- Ask questions, then ask some more.
- Wait for an answer: first person to speak loses. Be comfortable in the silence.
- Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Ask that hard questions.
- Practice, practice, practice – Role Play.
- Value is not price.
- Don’t give your solution too early, build a case.
Great tips. Thanks.
By Pam Lockard on 08/10/2012
BY Mary Duggan on August 9th, 2012
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