Value is perhaps the most illusive word in sales.
Everyone will tell you how important it is, very few can tell you what it is. I've already gone on ad nauseam about my distaste for the words "added value."
I recommend you leave them out of your sales lexicon forever. "Added value" has an evil twin: "value add." Neither of which can be defined in terms of what the customer actually benefits or profits from.
Added value is usually some minor service or hard-to-define extra that the customer already expects, or takes for granted anyway. Things like:
- same-day shipping
- online ordering
- parts in stock
- 24-hour service
Those are not VALUE - those are A GIVEN. Those elements are expected. They are NOT incentive to buy - rather they're just part of your business offering.
In order for you to understand the word "value" as it relates to your ability to making a sale, put the word "perceived" in front of it. If you think it's valuable, and your customer doesn't perceive it to be valuable, it ain't value.
Your customer is looking to increase THEIR sales, THEIR customer loyalty, THEIR employee loyalty, THEIR productivity, THEIR morale, THEIR profit, and to have no problems.
Are those the values you bring to the table? No? Why not? Those are the value elements that any customer would consider worthy of the word. Your little add-on services are more of a bonus than a value.
And don't just bring them one time - consistency is the key. My secret for delivering weekly value to my customers is this column. And throw in my weekly ezine, Sales Caffeine on top of that. Two weekly value messages. Throw in four tweets a day, that's 22 value messages a week. Add LinkedIn, blog, Facebook, and a YouTube video, and it's a value firestorm.
The value is missing from the MISSION. Most companies have a meaningless mission statement that was created by a marketing department. It's all about being number one, exceeding customer expectations, and building shareholder value. Barf.
- What's your real mission?
- Is it different from your mission statement?
- Where's the value to the customer?
- Isn't that the real mission?
What you need is a value proposition and a value statement that explains fully:
- how you help others
- how they win
- how you serve in terms of the customer
- how that leads to loyal customers and referrals.
And a mission statement that matches it.
A value proposition states what you do in terms of how a customer benefits.
For example: You might say, "we provide 4-hour service response." A "value proposition" way of stating the same thing is, "when equipment is broken or needs repair, production stops. That's why we instituted 4-hour or less service response. That way there is minimal loss of productivity and job profitability."
Same words, stated in terms of how the customer wins.
Value is important to a prospective customer for three reasons:
- It differentiates you from the competition.
- It gives the customer understandable reasons to purchase.
- It gives the customer the peace of mind they need to move forward. To buy.
Value is important to an existing customer for three reasons:
- It builds real relationship. One based on value.
- It makes reorders more automatic and less bid driven.
- It eliminates competition. Most competitors thrive on "saving a customer money."
NOTE: Customers don't want to save money as much as they want to produce more and make more profit.
At the end of any sales transaction, or when an existing customer has a need, that's when "perception of value" plays its heaviest role. If the customer perceives a difference in you, and perceives a reassuring value in terms of how he wins, the sale is yours. If not, the sale goes to the person with the lowest price.
Lowest price always means lowest profit.
The more you become proficient at stating value in terms of the customer, the more it will be perceived as value by the customer. The more you put value in terms of how they win, how they profit, and how they produce, the more it will be perceived as true value, or real value. And in the end, the value that you receive back will be the order. That's value.