Making value happen

By Guy Aston, Mid-Market Business Director, Huthwaite International

In the world of sales, 'Customer Value' is a much used phrase — and rightly so, because customers buy what they perceive as being of value to them. If they have a choice, they'll take the most valuable. This can be beyond a straightforward return on investment, as 'Customer Value' can capture intangible positives too — an improvement in staff morale for example. We will often be in competition with other suppliers and will need to create a greater perception of 'Customer Value' than our competitors. The question is how do we do that effectively?

The one thing we do know is that we cannot just tell people. It simply does not work and is a sure fire route to receiving objections. In fact there are two key elements in the value building process, and it’s not rocket science.

We know that if a person is satisfied with a product or service they are unlikely to change it. As sellers, that is bad news. The first key element in value building is creating the need for change.

Creating the need for change

This we do by exploring the issues and dissatisfactions the customer is experiencing — or even potential issues — to create the need for change. After all, sellers won't sell many Aspirins if they cannot find the headaches.

Keep the exploration smart, deliberately target areas where we know we are well positioned to solve their problems. We can learn much about their problems by asking questions to clarify their issues and exploring the effects of the problems on their business. This process is complete when the customer clearly sees that the status quo is no longer acceptable.

The second stage of the process, the one that extracts the value, is a further exploration focusing on the payoffs and savings of eliminating the customer’s issues.

Exploring the value of change

We help the customer to start envisioning the 'perfect world', talking about the real value in addressing their problems. In effect, we are constructing a performance specification for any forthcoming solution — which, of course, we can supply.

This process allows us to mould their needs around our offerings. The intelligent use of questions to explore the problems ensures that we will ultimately play to our strengths by uncovering issues the competition are not so effective at solving. This is part of the differentiation process.

We will also find a clear relationship between the dimension of the problem and the sense of value in the solution. A tiny problem will only lead to a small sense of value in any solution. A major problem returns a greater value of solution. Consequently, if we are selling high value solutions, we really must plan an effective problem diagnosis.

Remember, every customer is different. Yes, at high level they will be seeking common solutions that we and our competitors can supply. To differentiate by bringing added value, we really do need to work on creating value in our strengths.

For more information on Huthwaite services visit: www.huthwaite.co.uk

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