In Solution Selling, Who Determines Value?

Price and value are on a seesaw to show how they need to be balanced in solution selling

Designing and delivering solution selling training with sales teams over the last two decades, we have seen that most solution sellers have absorbed and put into practice the idea that value can trump price. But they often define value myopically…they interpret value from their own perspective and overlook value from the customer’s perspective. Many sales reps then try in vain to convince the customer of “the value” to justify a higher price.

Top performing solution sellers use only the customer’s unique situation and needs to define value in the eyes of the customer.  They then use the customer-defined value to design a unique combination of performance and price to give the customer exactly what they need to succeed. The only definition of value (and success) that really matters in solution selling is value from the customer’s perspective…not the other way around.

One way to think through value from the customer’s point of view is to ensure that your solution selling training programs help sales reps understand where two needs intersect: performance and price.

  1. Price
    Budget is often a primary consideration for the customer and is a function of both overall resources available as well as the priorities of the business. Mission critical projects will take precedence. Smart sellers know just where their project fits in the customer’s larger business strategy.
  1. Performance
    A second consideration is performance. How will the success of the project be measured? What is the required level of performance? Maybe the customer does not need to roll out the program to all employees…maybe a select audience is all they require. Perhaps speed is of the essence…or cutting edge technology…or proven quality. It is your job to figure out how to enhance your basic offering with only the features a customer needs and wants. A customized approach to their unique situation is what will differentiate your offering from the competition.

In our experience, most salespeople do not invest enough time or energy understanding the unique needs of their client enough to design a customized solution based upon what would truly add value to their buyer. We believe that value should be discovered and added piece-by-piece throughout the buying cycle. When the customer is beginning to shop, the best sellers are helping them define the problem, the general solution and the buying criteria. When they are ready to buy, smart consultative sellers are poised to help usher contracts through needed channels and with financing arrangements that favor the customer without extra cost for the seller. And as the solution is being implemented, the smart value seller oversees the project and makes suggestions for more efficient and effective execution…always with the customer’s goals as top priority.

The solution seller who can redefine the concept of value as what really matters to the customer is the solution seller who will earn the business. The more precisely they can meet a customer’s known and unknown expectations, the more they will differentiate themselves as a trusted partner who truly wants the customer to succeed – this is solution selling training 101.

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