How to Uncover Personal Value Without Risking Rapport


We know…really, we do.  We have to work with our customers to help them quantify the value of investing in our products or services.  We use terms like ROI, TCO, IRR, qualitative, quantitative, and the like, to help define this value.  Many times, we have ROI calculators, case studies, reference stories, and other tools to help us help the customer.  It’s an important step in the process of an investment decision.

Is there another kind of value?  What about an individual’s personal motivation to select or invest in a particular product or service?  In our ValueSelling workshops, we explore this element of value and ask the question, “which is the bigger motivator, business value or personal value?”.  99 times out of 100, the answer is “personal”.  Is that really the case?  Do professional people really make emotional buying decisions for logical reasons?  Do they select something for personal reasons and justify it logically?  Maybe not completely, but the element of personal value is clearly a strong component of a buying decision.  That said, how often do we, as sellers, understand the personal value of the key stakeholder(s) in a client engagement?  10%?  More or less?

For the sake of argument, let’s say that personal value is a significant component of a buying decision and we mostly don’t uncover it.  Why is that?  Most people would agree that there is a risk in damaging trust and rapport with a client by asking too personal a question.  That’s understandable.  But, is there a way to ask someone about their personal motivation without risking rapport?

For example, a personal value question may sound something like, “I’ve been working with another VP at a company about your size.  She told me that her personal motivation, if this project was successful, was to put her in-line for the next step in her career.  Would that be the same for you or is it something different?”.  Does that question risk rapport?  Does it potentially open a dialogue that person’s personal value?

Personal value for an individual – although many people consider it a bigger motivator than business value – is most often not identified in our client engagements.  However, what could it mean to your pipeline, opportunities, and forecast if you could uncover it just a little more often, say 10% or 20%?  Finally, wouldn’t it be equally beneficial to the client, as we work to deliver on the business value, if we could deliver on their personal motivation as well?  Sometimes, it just means asking the right question at the right time.  Of course, business value is still important as the means to justify a purchasing decision.  In a current or future client engagement, think about the importance of understanding personal value in an opportunity and maybe, just maybe, asking about it.

As a Vice President of Visualize, Jason helps organizations improve business metrics by creating a better connection with their customer’s definition of value. Following a successful career in sales and sales leadership, Jason has rejoined Visualize and now focuses on refining his client’s selling approach to differentiate; to drive increased revenues, market share and profitability.