How to Identify Value for Clients

The fax machine has whisked countless documents across the globe with amazing efficiency, transmitting hard-copy text and graphics in seconds. And yet, in the age of horse-drawn carriages and stilted black-and-white portrait photography, the technology behind the fax machine languished. Imagine how difficult it was for a salesman to identify the value of the fax machine to business and consumers. Imagine the public’s bewilderment or apprehension of the machine. Imagine the production costs behind one fax machine, the tongue-twisting technical jargon, the glitches in technology and the countless no-sales due to the lack of machines within the marketplace.

There just wasn’t enough value demonstrated or need available. Consequently, it’s understandable why several telefax technologies, although available as early as 1860 (the first fax patent was issued in 1843), didn’t become commercially viable until the Xerox Corporation succeeded in 1964. It makes sense why value related sales techniques, most notably solution selling, originated from Xerox.

There are two reasons why clients decide to create relationships with sales professionals: value and price. Our purpose as sales professionals is to understand and illustrate value for our prospects.

Our sales pitch shouldn’t be about ourselves and our organizations. Imagine if the first fax salesman filled his pitch with scholastic achievements of the inventor. What if the salesperson listed out the technical specifications of the fax machine to the customer without knowing which specifications were really important? Would it really matter? The client isn’t concerned with our personal success or product greatness, but with our ability to provide value based upon their criteria. Although our personal reputations and our organization’s products and services add value, sales professionals should never assume our assumptions are correct. The wants and needs of our clients could align differently with our product or service strengths.

The job of the sales professional is to build relationships that revolve around customer centric strategies that target the wants, needs and challenges of the client. Here how to identify value for clients:

CREATE A SPECIFIC VALUE PROPOSITION FOR THE INDIVIDUAL AND COMPANY

Generalized value propositions aren’t good enough. On a macro-level, our product or service should add value and solve problems for the desired target segment. Every call made should seek to build a relationship, and the relationship should center on balancing the needs and wants of the individual client with the needs and wants of the larger organization. Sales professionals can increase talk time and achieve greater conversational depth if we are able to identify and create value propositions on specific levels.

ELIMINATE FRICTION IN THE RELATIONSHIP

There are some things sales professionals can’t do. We won’t please everyone all the time. Our products and services won’t always fit the goals of the client or the needs of the organization.

During our calls, once we’ve detailed our value and identified the needs of the client, we must ask ourselves: Do the strengths within our value proposition truly solve the needs and wants of the client? Be honest. Work with integrity. Don’t make the mistake of misaligning, exaggerating or falsifying your strengths in order to make a sale. Let’s not create friction.

Think about value for the client, not yourself. Perhaps the best value within the moment is being forthright and offering the product or service of a competitor within the marketplace. In such a case, our honesty (and integrity) is our value. The client will never forget. A fulfilled client, whether they do business with our company or not, is priceless.

BECOME A PROBLEM DISCOVERER, NOT SIMPLY A PROBLEM SOLVER

Listen to clients and engage them creatively. Solving one particular problem is never better than solving two. Rest assured, no matter how creative we become at resolving client concerns, we will always be a step behind if we are simply problem solvers. The ever-changing marketplace that drives consumer choice should keep us sharp, strong and creative. True innovation comes from a keen perception that rests within the moment, and an ability to preempt situations with new ideas and strategies for the future within markets.

There is also a shared logic in problem solving. We need to discover new problems. Very few clients “buy” during the first phone call or conversation. Many may not even identify having a basic need for our product or service. The art of sales happens when we merge our creativity with the client’s information, and illustrate solutions for problems the client hadn’t even conceived.

In closing, let us continue to be value identifiers for our clients. Illustrating the value for the first fax machine had to be a difficult endeavor, but through trial and circumstance, after the succession of generations, the technology (and the salesmen) triumphed. Refine your process by focusing on value. You never know, within 100 years your product or service could be a case study for identifying value, and your sales process, within seconds, distributed across the globe.

Happy selling!