Value Based Selling: Why It Works and How to Use It

28 September 2016 by National Bank

Sales. It’s part art, part science. And while strategies differ depending on what you’re selling, and to whom, the way you speak to your customers is just as important as what you say to them.

Competition is stiff today and to set your business apart, you need to convince your customers that you have the best product or service to meet their specific needs.

Here, some tips to help you tell your story in a way that clearly answers the question: Why should I buy from you?

Learn to listen

Time was, salespeople focused on talking about features and benefits. Thanks to the Internet, your customers are in control and successful selling calls for creating value as your customer defines it.

Get to know the people you’re selling to, advices Kris Olsen, a Vancouver-based marketing and communications writer with What's Up Document.

That means understanding their needs and concerns, as well as their long-term business goals and their values, corporate and personal.

Ask questions, don’t simply state facts. Find out how your product or service can meet their business needs. Ask about your customers’ corporate culture, goals and challenges.

Depending on the size of your business and market reach, says Olsen, you may learn about your customers by conducting a survey, or by doing individual research. For example, some financial institutions conduct surveys once or twice a year asking their customers specific questions about their financial needs, expectations and how they feel about their customer experience.

That feedback helps them develop new financial products or adjust current products and, of course, it helps them fine-tune customer relations.

Identify your value proposition

By learning as much as possible about your customers, you can determine what value you can offer by tailoring solutions to their needs and wants.

That may mean helping the customer understand the benefits of using your product by giving quantifiable information. Perhaps the product you’re selling is more than your customer wants to spend, but if you demonstrate that she’ll need to replace it less often than a cheaper one, or that it has a more comprehensive warranty, you have created a value proposition.

When you know your customer, you also can create a value proposition based on his or her personal beliefs— that your company’s household products are non-toxic, for example, when you know your customer is a committed ethical consumer.

Determine how you’ll communicate with your customers

Once you understand your customers, you can tailor your sales message to respond to their wants, needs, interests and values.

“Your customers’ demographic will determine the most appropriate channel for reaching out to them, such as website, social media or billboard,” says Olsen. “And then you can develop a communications campaign or content strategy as opposed to just issuing random social media posts and throwing copy up on your website.”

She says many organizations don’t understand the value of a content strategy, how it can help engage their customers and improve their customers’ experience, which in turn improves sales and drives up revenue.

“A successful business is a two-way relationship between the company or organization, and the customer, and if the business doesn’t ask the questions and seek to offer solutions, they risk alienating their market, rather than engaging it,” Olsen says.

Engage your customer

Your customers’ demographic shapes the tone you use to communicate to, and ultimately engage with, them.

In most cases, the most effective way to engage a customer and deliver relevant product information is to use a conversational style with brief, point-first messaging. Point first means beginning with the final point, then providing supporting evidence.

“I’m a firm believer in point-first writing,” says Olsen. “It’s efficient—it states up front what is being offered and how the business can help the customer—and it reduces the time needed for a customer to wade through website or brochure copy. Attention spans are short; copy should be, too.”

When your customer asks, ‘why should I buy from you?’ you need to be able to answer succinctly: we have solutions to fit your needs, says Olsen.

And when you can convey the benefits of your product in a way that engages your customer, Olsen adds, you set the foundation for a long-term business-to-customer relationship.

Services to help you get started

National Bank’s My Business Model Canvas was designed to help entrepreneurs turn business strategies into a reality, and help you create the best value for your client.

The Value Proposition component helps you plot the needs your company meets and the value you generate, what you are actually giving to your clients, and the unique features of your product or business that make you stand out.

The Key Resources channel helps you answer the question: what do I have to do to deliver my value proposition? And then identifies the resources you need to execute your plan.

And Customer Segments analyzes who your clients are, and for whom you create value.

Apply the tips described here and use the My Business Model Canvas, and you’ll soon see for yourself that value-based selling works wonders.

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