The term “value selling” and similar variations like “value-based selling” have become commonplace. These terms simply imply that we sell on value rather than features, benefits, or price. The generic terminology covers many different sales methodologies and strategies. “ValueSelling” however, is a sales framework based around a mutual understanding of how you and your business can add value to a buyer by helping them solve problems standing in the way of them achieving their most pressing business issues. Basically, aligning to the “buyer’s journey”, which has become more critical than ever in today’s selling motion.
In this article, I’ll break down the ValueSelling Framework® and explain why I believe it to be the best version of value selling or value-based sales.
While we call it a sales methodology, the ValueSelling Framework really is a method for engaging individuals in conversation. So, it truly is a communication framework. Value selling is really all about engaging individuals (the buyers who make decisions) and trying to understand and align to their buyer’s journey. Rather than forcing prospects into our mold of what we’d like selling to look like, we gather the information they need to make a buying decision that will achieve a measurable outcome. The Framework is our game plan and process for how we do that.
Consider for a moment that our buyers are typically not professional buyers. Their day-to-day usually doesn’t involve evaluating and purchasing software or whatever solution our business offers. That’s why it’s up to us to drive the process to fit their timeline and make it simple for them.
Whether they realize it or not, buyers intuitively ask themselves four things:
1. “Should I buy?”
“Why should I change? Why should I change now? And why should I change with your business?” There must be a clearly defined critical business driver that is currently keeping our buyer from accomplishing a measurable objective in their business. Sometimes a prospect will simply know that there is room for improvement and may have an inkling as to what would contribute towards that improvement but will need a bit of guidance in determining what exactly the reason they feel that way is. Let’s not simply educate, but facilitate a buyer’s journey. Get to the why behind the possible needs.
2. “Is it even worth it to change?”
There is a lot of risk associated in making a big change within a business. A buyer feels the weight of risking money, time, and additional resources. Not only with making the decision, but also with the implementation of the solution. The pain of not acting or the potential upside of taking action needs to be significant enough to drive them towards action. It’s important to pause here and clarify that we are not trying to convince our prospects that they need to act now. We are helping them uncover and come to this realization on their own. If any part of this process is untrue, the deal is not qualified, and it is much better to find that out early on than be surprised later down the line that the buyer cannot justify the project/change.
3. “Can I buy?”
You can’t sell to someone who can’t buy. Does your buyer truly have the resources and authority to buy? Can they afford the purchase? Do they have signing authority? If not, do they have access to the signing authority and are they willing to make a connection to put you in touch with those people? The act of buying in some larger, more complex organizations requires various resources to be in alignment, from finance to legal to IT security reviews. This is also happening more and more in smaller organizations as well. There is no magical signer behind the curtain. We need to understand who needs to say “yes” and who can say “no”.
4. “Am I convinced?”
What does the buyer need to see to be convinced that our solution is the right one? What are the key activities they need to see throughout the buying evaluation, as well as after the deal is closed and implementation has started? Buyers need confidence that we can deliver on what we have promised. And it’s important that we give that to them throughout the process of the deal and beyond with value realization. Value realization is not going live with a new software or simply installation of some hardware, it is the point of where business outcomes are achieved, and the business goals are impacted. If a buyer sees value, they’ll not only make the initial purchase, but will continue to buy from us again and again . It’s our job to continually show them value.
Elite salespeople are just like athletes. Regardless of how many successes they have in the past, they are constantly striving to get better. Understanding and utilizing the ValueSelling Framework accurately can help you and your buyer communicate more effectively. Especially when you take the time to practice the guidance it provides. Review the four questions a buyer asks themselves while evaluating a purchase. How can you help them answer those questions?
The true core of the ValueSelling Framework is helping people. Before we even engage with a potential buyer, we need to understand more about them and their business. Taking the time to do this heavy lifting on the front end of the deal is the only way to qualify our fit with a buyer. If we are unable to help the prospect, it is better to determine early to avoid wasting our time and theirs.