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What Is All This Talk About Added Value?

During my keynote at a recent sales kickoff meeting, I opened up the dialogue regarding how salespeople and organizations need to not only create value to separate themselves from their competition, buy also the need for a company to prove their value proposition during the sales process. Many organizations express their value on their Web sites or marketing brochures, but fail in this important step of proof. In a commodity business, it is critical you consider value and what it really is.

At this particular, highly product-driven company, the salespeople were really struggling to understand the concept of being unique or what kinds of value they could offer. During a 90-minute keynote, it might not be possible to create specific ideas around adding value or proving your value proposition, but opening the mind to the concept is critical in today's environment.

It comes down to the fact that without value-added, anybody can do what you do, including your competition. Value-added is up to the salesperson or organization in making the difference and, if it is done right, no one will ever compete with you.

The strategic thought-process question that should be asked before every meeting or client situation is, "How can I add value to this opportunity?"

There are three steps to adding value:

  1. Forget what business you are in. Understanding your business begins, paradoxically, by forgetting your product/service. You're not the products/services you represent. You sell dreams and you sell solutions; you simply deliver the product/service. I learned the power of this step as a young salesperson: I found out the reason the client was purchasing my computer/software was to enjoy her weekends at the lake cabin! That emotion is what I ended up selling. It is critical you always understand the compelling reason to purchase that is driving your client. I always stress this during sales strategy sessions.

  2. Move from the big picture to added value options. Ask yourself, "What actions can I take that will add value to my offerings and will exceed my clients' expectations? What can I do that will position me as different from and more valuable than my competition?" These can be the big questions that organizations can ponder during a strategic planning session or that can be driven by the salesperson in each unique sales situation. One client of ours sold heavily on ROI; what we did was assist in creating a sales process where on Stage 3, the salesperson would have the client visit our client's Web site (make it a sales tool). The prospective client then would actually enter a few variables into a data entry form. As a result, the CFO of the client's organization would create a business case for the project. This business case was then presented to the prospective client. This added value proved the company's value proposition and added a unique phase to the relationship. Figuring out what kinds of added value actions you can offer is challenging and will take time to develop. We suggest group meetings with a variety of employees, customer focus groups and brainstorming sessions during this phase.

  3. Evaluate the value-add. How can I bring this idea to my clients? Can I afford to do these things? Does it duplicate any other service we provide? I always say that competitors can "catch on" to what you are doing, but you don't want them to "catch up." It is critical you continually assess your ideas around the value you are bringing to the sales situation. Every six months, schedule a strategy session to evaluate your sales process and your value-add services.

It is a challenge to create value but the time and investment will pay huge dividends in revenues and profits. Get creative, open your mind, find your competitive edge and win!

Posted by Ken Thoreson on February 04, 2015