Value Selling

Published on April 2, 2003

A child you are caring for is throwing a temper tantrum (known in negotiation classes as the Outrageous Behavioral Tactic) over getting some ice cream. You decide not to buy the ice cream because the child had enough junk food that day. The temper tantrum grows in intensity until you reach your limit. What do you do? Well, you can try to muffle your child’s screams, which in today’s world would be like child abuse. You can send the child their room, except there is no room to send them to in the mall. Or, you can give in and buy the ice cream and achieve a peaceful environment devout of any child’s screams; at least for the time it takes the kid to eat the ice cream.

If you give in and buy the ice cream, why do you do it? Is it simply because the pain of not doing so would be greater than the pain of giving into the child? This example typifies why a customer will make the decision to buy from you versus your competitor. It all has to do with the perceived value. Why would a customer drop an existing vendor to start a new relationship with you? Why would a customer decide to buy your higher priced product than the cheaper alternative? Why would a customer buy your service when they have never used a similar service in the past?

Perceived Value equals the Cost of No Change minus the Cost of Change. The Cost of No Change is defined as not accepting your proposal (new products, higher prices, etc). The customer has to believe they will be in a much better position by acquiring your products or services. Otherwise, why should they invest their time and money in doing so?

Like the child, you need to find the areas that are causing pain for your customers. I wouldn’t recommend the yelling and screaming part, but you can ask questions to find out what’s missing for the customer. What results do they wish to attain that they are not currently getting? What would be valuable for them to want to make a switch? Or, what would they be missing out on if they did not use your services? Lita Rosario, our Titan Profile of the Month listed below, uses this question: “What is at stake for you if you do not get Hoover’s On-Line”? This is used in her e-mails after she lists the outcomes one would achieve from using her services.

To sell value, first find out what’s missing for the customer. Then present how you can fulfill those needs and your message will be heard loud and clear, just like it is heard when the child screams for the ice cream.

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