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Introduction to Value-selling: Elevate Your Sales Game

Updated: Nov 7, 2023


Flavor-of-the-Month Club

Are you fed up with talking to the “champion” on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder? Are you sick of investing months of time, energy, and effort into deals only to witness a disheartening 60 percent of qualified opportunities crumble due to prospects' indecision? Are you exhausted from repeatedly beta-testing the “flavor-of-the-month” approach, only to see your organization fail to embrace it, leaving you without any results to show for your labor? I could go on, but I’ll stop here—I think you get the point.


If these frustrations resonate with you, you're not alone.


Value-selling may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for all your sales process woes, but with proper integration and support, it will transform your sales organization into a revenue-generating machine.


Value-selling is a client-centric approach to sales. With this process, you take deliberate steps to understand what’s important to your prospective buyers and their organizations and then align a solution to assist them in accomplishing their aims. Value-selling is NOT a function you perform on top of your sales process. Furthermore, it's not a magic wand you wave to win stalled deals. Rather, it’s a sales process in and of itself—a fully integrated part of how you sell your solution(s). When effectively managed, it holds the potential to increase your win rates, enhance deal size, bolster customer retention, and accelerate the sales cycle.




Common Challenges with Enterprise Software Sales

Enterprise software sales companies face many challenges during the sales cycle:

  • Gaining access to actual decision-makers

  • Complex buying processes

  • Budget constraints

  • RESISTANCE TO CHANGE

  • Post-sale support

The software sales industry is a challenging and dynamic environment, but that’s what we signed up for. We accept the challenges, persist, and overcome them. If we want to expedite our journey to a successful exit, we must continue learning, adapting, and growing as a sales organization.


The Core Principles of Value-Selling

I'm not a sales historian; for that, I recommend you follow @toddcaponi, but I can tell you that sellers shifted their focus from their buyers to themselves somewhere along the way. At some point, the sale began to sound like, "We have these cool functions and features that we are super proud of and that you should buy." We even started doubling down on this by bragging about how many years we've been in business, when we were funded, and by whom. What's missing here? I’ll tell you: None of these points have anything to do with the prospective buyers. Now you tell me: What is more important than them?


Value-selling shifts the focus away from the seller and onto the buyer, where it rightly belongs. This technique creates a collaborative engagement that:

  • Is customer-centric

  • Focuses on solving their problems

  • Is consultative in nature

  • Emphasizes the solution’s benefits for the customer

  • Allows you to obtain measurable data

  • Builds long-term relationships based on trust and credibility

  • Enables proper communication of your organization's value proposition

  • Provides ongoing measurements and feedback that continually refine the value process


Understanding Your Customers’ Needs

Epictetus wisely remarked, "We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." The value-selling process starts with understanding where the BUYER is and meeting them there (figuratively, of course). How do we get there? By asking open-ended questions throughout the entire buying process and listening.


Now, I hear you thinking, “Duh, Randall, you’re talking about discovery.” No! Discovery is often considered a one-time activity you do at the front end of a deal, which is necessary. I’m talking about redefining how we think about discovery. This enhanced approach to discovery happens when a seller continuously asks the buyer open-ended questions and validates the information received from their answers throughout the entire sales process.


This strategy brings numerous advantages, from gathering continuous competitive intelligence to seamlessly involving other stakeholders, expediting your journey to the decision-maker, ensuring priorities haven’t shifted, and continuously educating the buyer along the way.


By turning discovery into the through-line of the process, you’ll hit your targets, juice your numbers, and transform your organization into a revenue-predictability machine.



Building Stronger Relationships

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

– Dale Carnegie


This quote is straight from How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ve read many books since turning the first page on this one, but it remains the most influential book I’ve ever read. I won’t explain the principle here any further because the quote does a better job than I ever could.


Let’s rephrase this wisdom nugget for our conversation: “You can win more deals in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get others to become interested in your solution.” (Attribution … me, I guess.)


Being genuinely interested in the buyers with whom you’re engaging builds trust and credibility, thereby strengthening relationships. (Thought bubble: Are our competitors doing this?)


With value-selling, we adopt a customer-centric approach to better understand our customers' specific needs, challenges, and objectives. Following a value-selling process aligns your solutions with the buyers’ needs and business objectives, which in turn continues to build trust and credibility, further strengthening the relationship. Make it easy for your buyers to sing your praises in discussions with their LinkedIn buddies.


Measuring What Matters

How do buyers make purchasing decisions? As brilliant as I think I am sometimes, I cannot answer that question for you. Every buyer is different, and every organization has its own process, even if that process is the absence of an actual process. Remember when we talked about open-ended questions earlier? Now would be a great time to deploy one of those: “Mr./Ms. Buyer, how do you make your buying decisions?”


I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most enterprise software purchasers need to analyze the investment cost versus its projected value. If you're already nodding your head in agreement, great – you're paying attention. You're well-positioned to assist them in this critical analysis.


By leveraging the principles of value-selling, you’ll gather customer data that serves as the building blocks for formulating crucial metrics. These metrics are your tools to illustrate the value your solution brings, both in terms of dollars and confidence, to the buyer. It empowers them to make a well-informed purchase with unwavering confidence.


In a nutshell, your goal is to establish a baseline of the buyer's current situation without your solution. Common value drivers could be, but are not limited to, revenue growth, cost reduction, cost avoidance, increased retention, and/or risk avoidance.


For example, consider this scenario: your buyer has five employees dedicating five hours each week to a manual task that your solution could entirely automate.


5 people (x) 1 hour/week (x) 52 weeks/year = 260 hours/year spent on said manual activity


260 hours (x) average hourly cost of an employee (Let’s say the number is $74.)


260 hours (x) $74 = $19,240.00


And just like that, you've nailed down your baseline.


Now, picture this – if your solution can completely automate that existing workload, your prospect gains 260 hours (valued at $19,240.00) that they can reallocate to more strategic, higher-value activities. That, my friend, is value!


Aggregating data points like this and then subtracting the investment cost gives you your return on investment (ROI), a key metric that helps buyers make confident and informed buying decisions.


Other Common Measurables of Value-selling:

  1. Return on Investment

  2. Cost of Doing Nothing

  3. Payback Period

  4. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

  5. Net Present Value (NPV)


Value Center of Excellence

The most successful value-selling organizations I work with have a Value Center of Excellence. This dedicated person or team acts as the heartbeat of your value-selling framework, serving as the go-to resource for communicating your value proposition both internally and externally. They ensure alignment across various areas of your organization, preventing the creation of disjointed value propositions.


Avoid the pitfalls of each department independently defining their value proposition or working on value initiatives in isolation. Such fragmentation breeds ambiguity and internal and external confusion.


Revolutionize Your Sales Process with Value-Selling

I understand that value-selling can appear complex. However, with patience, persistence, and the willingness to change, you’ll hit your targets, juice your numbers, and transform your organization into a revenue-predictability machine.


Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you found it valuable and insightful. In the coming months, I’ll elaborate on the value-selling principles outlined here. If you have any questions, thoughts, or experiences to share, I'd love to hear them. Feel free to leave a comment below. Additionally, if you want to continue the conversation or explore how value-selling can benefit your business, please don't hesitate to reach out via direct message or schedule a call with me. I'm always eager to connect with professionals dedicated to delivering exceptional value to their clients!


Action Step:

Through this series, my objective is to suggest actionable steps that sellers or organizations can take to begin integrating value-selling into their process without requiring additional resources.


The next time you begin a dialogue with a prospective buyer:

  • Make sure you are listening more than you are speaking.

  • Ask open-ended questions to uncover their business objectives, career aspirations, etc. “If we can help you solve this problem, how will that positively impact your career and the organization?”

  • Think about how the data you gather can influence the deal.


That’s it—one bite-sized piece. Stick around for the journey as we learn to crawl, walk, and run together!


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