Value-added selling means taking the initiative to proactively look for ways to increase the value of your products or services, as well as yourself, to the customer.
The possibilities of creating value are limitless.
For example, you could:
- deliver faster service
- educate customers on unique product/service features
- improve your delivery methods
- provide useful industry info
- further differentiate your product/services from the competition’s, and
- help customers solve problems.
Find what customers value
The first step in value-added selling is to understand clearly what your customer values. Each customer has his or her own perspective on value, usually falling into one of the following categories:
- Transactional. Customers here have low needs for a relationship and low needs for information. They just want the right product at the right time at the lowest price.
- Relationship. Customers here want a relationship with their seller. They need salespeople who have an in-depth understanding of their situation.
- Informational. Customers here have a high need for information and a low need for a relationship. They know what they want, and they want to be informed and educated.
- Partnership. Customers here have a high relationship need and a high information need. They want a salesperson who understands their company and their needs.
What customers want in a value-added seller
Here are the five characteristics of salespeople customers valued most, according to a recent study:
- Integrity. Ninety-six percent of customers say the No. 1 thing they look for in salespeople is integrity. People want to do business with salespeople they trust.
- Empathy. This is a salesperson’s ability to view life from the customer’s point of view. There isn’t a problem that aggressiveness will get you into that an equally strong measure of empathy won’t get you out of.
- Initiative. This is the habit of being proactive. It’s everything you do for your customers without having to be told to do it.
- Knowledge. Customers want to deal with salespeople who know what their business does and what their needs are.
- Courage. This is not the absence of fear — it’s the management of fear. Value-added salespeople control fear and instill confidence in their customers by demonstrating their knowledge and good judgment.
Steer the negotiation away from price
Value-added salespeople recognize price objections for what they really are — a bargaining point for a customer who wants to save as much as possible.
Value-added salespeople are skilled at directing the conversation towards value, not price. They uncover the customer’s needs, analyze the costs associated with those needs and translate features of the product into what it will do to help satisfy those needs.
There are five keys to establishing value:
- Show how your product or service can help increase customer revenue.
- Demonstrate how you can help prospects eliminate some costs.
- Identify how you can help prospects avoid paying some future costs.
- Show how prospects can redirect a present cost to make better use of an existing resource.
- Understand how your product or service can help prospects improve their image and solidify their brand.
Putting value-added selling to work
Here’s how to make value-added selling work for you:
- Take time to learn the customer’s business. Don’t tell prospects that you’d like 15 minutes of their time to learn about their business. The learning curve is long, and it’s an ongoing process. It should occur over a period of time. Showing interest will often produce a positive relationship.
- Come up with new ideas for your customers. If your ideas only relate to what you’re selling, you’re in trouble. Every business can benefit from helpful ideas. You know what’s happening in the industry and you know your customers’ needs. Make a serious effort to share your expertise.
- Don’t be afraid to say, “We can’t do it.” This is not the same as saying, “We can’t help.” It’s being honest. Help your customer get what’s needed. This will build confidence and credibility for you and your company.