We recently published an article on selling value internally along with selling externally to prospects. Because while many distributors have spent time creating a value proposition their employees will take to heart, salespeople often falter when it comes to selling the company’s value to prospects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only amplified matters. Field sales reps right now are navigating a new landscape, one where they cannot visit facilities in person and connect with prospects in the way they’re used to. They’re struggling, because these standard practices are so ingrained.
We’re all making changes, learning to go about our daily work from home or at a safe distance. For field sales reps, that might mean learning to work more like an inside sales rep, making calls and relying on phone and digital communication to reach prospects and sell to them in a way that focuses on value.
Selling value: What’s in it for your prospect?
These days, prospects need more than ever to hear about your company’s value. Value isn’t the same as your value proposition. A value proposition tells prospects who the company is and why they should do business with them.
Similarly, value isn’t just a value claim. Your company’s value is more than “better pricing” or “great customer service.” These don’t communicate anything special or differentiate your company in any real way.
Rather, selling value involves a focus on the benefits for the customer: What’s in it for them? Put yourself in their shoes. If someone called asking you to change to their cable services, what’s the first thing you’d ask? You would want to know why you would you put out the effort to switch. What’s in it for you?
To determine the value you can provide to a prospect, identify what real customers and prospects value most. Many sales reps find themselves selling on features, which are factual aspects of the product or service but usually not related directly to a benefit. Why does the product or service matter to the prospect? What is the benefit to them?
Here are some ways to focus on prospect benefits. Ask yourself:
- How you can save the prospect money?
- How you can save them time?
- How you can make their lives easier?
- How you can make them look like a hero?
- How you can make them more efficient?
To answer these questions, salespeople must start with a strong understanding of their company’s benefits and values before they can convince a prospect. And then they must translate that into a benefit.
Competing on value — not price
Having the right value-based selling points in mind will also prepare salespeople for the biggest prospect brushoff: price. When a prospect isn’t convinced about value, they’ll always respond to a sales pitch with something like this:
- “Can you get me a better price than what I’m paying now?”
- “Why would I switch to your company if you can’t get me a better price?”
- “It’s all about price here – it’s one of my key objectives.”
It can be challenging to answer these on the fly if you’re not prepared. In some cases, your price may indeed be better. But making a prospect into a long-lasting customer is about more than offering the lowest price. It’s about offering key benefits that help the prospect save time or operate more efficiently.
Focusing on the right personas
It might help salespeople (both field sales and inside sales) to focus on to whom they’re selling, then adjust their strategy to fit that target. After all, different prospects will have different needs. The benefits you talk about with a purchasing agent will be different than the benefits you talk about with an owner.
Take the time to understand who you will be speaking to in the organization. Who are you targeting? The buyer? The service manager? Prepare by thinking about questions that will be appropriate for those roles. For example, a vice president of purchasing is going to be thinking at a strategic level, while a buyer will be focused on more tactical issues such as price and availability. Outline your answers for each role, or persona, so that you know:
- What do they do?
- What is their role in the buying process?
- What do they look for in a distributor?
- What are their key challenges and goals?
Ideally, you should identify the specific benefits for each contact within the organization ahead of time, so when you get the prospect on the phone, you know exactly what benefits you’re going to talk about and have a value-centered pitch ready to go in a way that will resonate.
Here’s the bottom line: If you can’t make a prospect’s life easier or save them money in some way, why would they even talk to you as a sales rep? Keep the prospect top of mind as you focus on providing distinct value in a way that your potential customer will see and appreciate.
Ready to learn more about selling value? Get in touch today.