On this episode, Paul reminds us of the simple yet powerful message of Value-Added Selling.
“Do more of that which adds value, and less of that which….”
Is the value exchange equitable? “Just because we put our customer first does not mean we put ourselves last.”
“You must be more focused on solving the customer’s problems than making a deal for your company.”
Don’t forget your bundled package: your company, the product, and you!
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What is Value-Added Selling?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to answer a question that is often asked. This is especially when I’m talking to business leaders, when I’m talking with a group of salespeople. Here’s how it will typically go. They’ll say, “You know, Paul, we hear this word value a lot. We hear the word value add or value-based selling. What exactly is value-added selling?” That’s the question we’re going to answer on today’s show. It’s a critical question because I’ve seen a lot of other messages out there that they claim, “Oh, adding value. Yeah. We can help you add value. Value this, value that,” and what it ends up being is just almost like a watered down version of what Value-Added Selling really means [be]cause Value-Added Selling—it’s something deeper. And we’re going to talk about that on today’s episode. So again, the question is, “What is Value-Added Selling?”
Getting into that question though, we’ve got to talk about our sponsor, Andrea, over at The Creative Impostor Studios. You know, when it comes to adding value, I’ve got to say, Andrea and her team do a wonderful job. They get the philosophy of helping your customers [be]cause I’m one of them and I can attest to how great a job they do. They’re here to support. They help build the podcast. They help keep it going every single week. They are helping to launch these episodes. So the sales community thanks you, Andrea and the team, for doing this. Also, keep up the great work. And if you guys are thinking of starting a podcast, reach out to Andrea and her team. We’re going to have a link over to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, in the book Value-Added Selling, we define what is value, and I’m going to give you a sneak peek of that. But if you’re eager to learn more, please pick up a copy of Value-Added Selling. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, wherever you get your books, 800CEOreads. You can pick up a copy if you feel as this message is going to help you in your industry.
So let’s get right down to it. What is Value-Added Selling? I’m going to talk about a couple of the core beliefs of Value-Added Selling. The first core belief is that Value-Added Selling is built upon a business philosophy. It’s not just a sales course. It’s not a podcast. It’s not a book. It’s not a trainer or a speaker or a one-day training seminar that you go to out in Las Vegas. Although that would be fun right about now. It is more than that. It is built upon a deeply rooted philosophy. And that’s why Value-Added Selling has stood the test of time. The message has been around now for close to 40 years. And the reason why is because it’s an evergreen message.
Here’s the philosophy: Do more of that which adds value and less of that which adds little or no value. Think about how simple that is yet how powerful that can be when it’s applied every single day. All of you are in sales to some degree or another. Imagine if you approached your work every single day with the mindset, “You know what? Today I’m going to do all of those things that add value, and I’m going to do less of the things that add little or no value,” imagine how much better you will become over the next week, two weeks, three weeks. Every day, you ask yourself that question, “What am I going to do today to add more value? What am I going to do less of that adds little or no value?”
In fact, a challenge I have for you, the sales podcast community. For the next week, let’s go for a week. Before you begin your day, tell yourself, “Today I will do more of those things that add value and less of those things that add little or no value.” That’s the power of the philosophy.
So that’s what makes Value-Added Selling different than all the, you know, you hear the value based, you hear the value selling, you hear all these other watered-down versions. Ours is built on that philosophy: Do more of that which adds value.
The second core belief within Value-Added Selling, it must be an equitable exchange for both the salesperson and the customer. Just because we put our customer first it does not mean we put ourselves last. The exchange must be equitable. It must be fair for both of you. Think about this from a sales perspective. How often have you pursued an opportunity that no longer becomes worth it? Think about how often that happens. And remember that customers only treat us the way we allow them to treat us. And we have to make sure that the exchange is equitable. For what we exchange in our time, our energy, and our effort, we must be compensated for that. And that usually means we get to charge a higher price than our competition. That is if you are creating more value.
I remember early on in my sales career, I had this one customer, and he was a complete ass. Oh man. I couldn’t stand dealing with him, but the overall opportunity was huge. I mean, it had a big payoff potential. And so I was forced to deal with this guy. He was the main contact. He’s the guy I had to get to know. And here’s some of the things he would do. I remember first calling on this account. I called on them repeatedly and nobody would call me back. I kept leaving messages. I kept stopping by at off times. I tried waiting in the parking lot to catch some of the main contacts.
Well, after about the 20th time I attempted to reach out to him, he called me back and he said, “Yeah, are you that Paul guy that keeps stopping by our office?” I said, “Yeah.” I’m all excited. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, he’s calling me back or he’d have a meeting.’ He said, “Every time you stop by, I take your catalog and your business cards and I throw them in the trash. There’s no point in stopping by here.”
And I just asked him a question. I said, “Well, why do you do that?” And he went into this long story about how our company did something to their company in the past. It was a long time ago. And I remember I just said, “Well, I can’t change what happened in the past, but I do believe we can help your company. We have some new things that have changed over the past several years. I really think it can help your company. Would you give me some time and we’ll just talk?”
He actually agreed to meet with me. We scheduled a time. Guess what? I showed up? He didn’t show up. He ghosted me on the appointment. I called him back a few more times. Again, he’s ghosting me. And it took months just to get in front of this guy. Finally, I got in front of him. He was just as rude as he was over the phone, but he did acknowledge that we had some good products. And they started to buy some of them. Not a lot of big orders, but man, I was proving myself to this customer. When they needed help on the weekend, I’d stop what I’m doing, I’d go help them on the weekend. If they had questions at 5:30 in the morning, they could call my mobile. I would take care of them. I would answer those questions. I never let their calls go to voicemail.
But I noticed that they kept giving all the big orders to another supplier. And I could tell I was creating a lot of value. Maybe not for that one individual guy who was kind of a jerk, but all the other employees within that organization, they really enjoyed working with me. I was creating value with them. I was helping them out. I was solving their problems. They were my champions and I was creating value for them.
So finally, I was talking to a few of the employees who I built relationships with and I said, “You know, I’m not getting much business from you guys. You guys keep buying from that other supplier. What’s the deal?” They said, “I don’t know. Why don’t you go ask main guy?” And I won’t mention his name. So I went in there and I basically said, “Hey, look. Here’s the deal. I jump through hoops for you guys. You need something on the weekend, I make it happen. You guys call me early in the morning or late in the evening, I’m here to support you. I drop what I’m doing to help you guys. I am sick and tired of just getting a bunch of leftover orders. I’m ready for the main deal. Give me the main course. I’m sick of the appetizers.” And I demand it. I basically said to him, “Look, that’s what I want.” And I told him, I said, “If this is all the business that I’m going to get from you, I’m no longer going to offer this level of service.” And when I said that, something shifted; something changed, and he said, “Okay, I understand. We’ll take a look at it.”
The point of that story, it has to be equitable. You, as the value-added salesperson, you deserve to share in the value that you create. And how you get to share in that is by getting more business, by getting higher margins. It has to be an equitable exchange. So just remember that. And it also has to mean it’s fair for the customer. It has to be fair to them for what they’re sacrificing in time, energy and effort and money. So that’s that second core belief. It has to be equitable.
The third core belief in Value-Added Selling, you have to be customer focused. I know this may run contrary to what I just shared, that story and all that, but the reality was I was customer focused. I was customer focused to the point where I was solving problems, taking care of the customer, and I just had to demand equity. I needed to have an equitable exchange. So from the customer-focused standpoint, what that means is we have to be more focused on solving our customer’s problems than we are in making a deal for our company. It’s more about making a difference in their lives than just making a deal. Customer-focused behavior means we always put our customers first, but that doesn’t mean we put ourselves last.
We remember the sale is about the customer. You know, when I’m working with groups of salespeople, whether it’s, kicking off a keynote presentation or whether it is a workshop, one exercise I will do is I’ll have the sales team think about a customer. I tell them, “Hey, think about one of your largest customers. Imagine what it’s like to be them. Put yourself in their position.” It’s basically an exercise in empathy. And the whole idea behind this is that when we put ourselves in the position of the customer, it helps us think as they think and feel as they feel. And by doing that, you’re going to understand how they define value at a much deeper level, because you’re viewing the world through their eyes.
That’s one of the greatest gifts we have in this world is being able to view the world through the eyes of another person. And that’s why it’s such a core belief within Value-Added Selling is because the customer defines value, and it’s their definition of value that really matters. So we must take that customer-focused approach. So that’s, that third core belief.
And finally, the fourth core belief and what we’ll only give you four of them here on today’s episode, you are selling something bigger than just a product, you’re selling a bundled package. That’s the fourth core belief is you’re selling a bundled package. There are too many competitors out there just selling products. And if you are just selling a product, you open the door to too much competition. The key is identifying not only the value your product brings to the table, but also the value your company will bring, and the value that you will bring as a salesperson.
Remember, when your customer’s buying your product, they’re buying into all the value you personally create and all the value your company creates as well. Those three components, we call those the three dimensions of value, and they are inseparable from one another. And that’s what I’ll often hear from salespeople, “Hey Paul. How am I going to create any value if I’m selling the exact same product as my competition?” I always ask them, “Well, what kind of personal value are you creating?” You are that unique dimension of value. Our research shows that the salesperson brings 25 percent of the total value. So if you feel that your solution is completely the same, then you’re also saying, “Well, I’m the same as the other salesperson selling for my competitor,” and it doesn’t have to be that way. You can find unique ways to create value because you, as the salesperson, you bring 25 percent of the value.
Think about the value that your company creates. The key is getting the buyer to think in those terms. Because buyers are constantly thinking, ‘I just need product. I just need to order a product,’ or ‘I just need this service.’ They’re thinking in terms of product or service. We have to remind them that what we’re selling is something much bigger. When they’re buying into our products, they’re buying into all the value that we create from a salesperson standpoint, from a company standpoint. There’s no such thing as commodity solutions, only commodity salespeople and commodity products. Because if you truly believe you’re different and you can create unique value, you offer a completely differentiated solution. It’s about identifying the ways you create value. So we’re selling that bundled package.
The analogy I like to use is the analogy of a cake. Imagine that your solution that you create is a baked cake. You’ve got all the ingredients like the flour, the eggs, the milk, the sugar, all that. Each one of those ingredients is like one of your value-added extras. Once you mix them in a bowl and then you put it in the oven, it’s baked in. You can’t separate the components from one another. It’s already a completed solution. So in that same way, your solution is already baked in with your value-added extras. The key is reminding the customer of that.
When you think about Value-Added Selling, Value-Added Selling is so much more. I wish we had more time to go through all of it and I could explain the actual process behind the Value-Added Selling message, but we just can’t do it, not in a podcast.
Anyway, I hope this gave you a few things to think about when it comes to adding value, come to creating value. It’s such a deeper message than what we might think about on the surface.
Make it a big day.