Value-based selling: 6 ways to sell value rather than price

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Author photo: Christina Scannapiego

Christina Scannapiego

Director, Content Marketing

As a B2B company, you don’t need an overly salesy video, hard sales pitch or weekly promotional email to beat out your competitors. Instead of advertising an item that is priced to sell, it pays to put effort into showing the customer value in your product, and how much that will benefit your prospective client’s life.

In this post, we'll look at what value-based selling is, and six steps B2B sales teams can take to sell unique value instead of offering a lower price:

  1. Think through your product.
  2. Don’t lay it on thick too early.
  3. Take note of what industry leaders are doing.
  4. Be an educator, not a salesperson.
  5. Eliminate your buyer’s fears.
  6. Highlight the benefits of using the product.

What is value-based sales?

You know you need to add customer value to your product, but it may not be clear how to accomplish this. It comes down to finding ways to make your product irresistible to your potential clients. No, not irresistible in a forced way like a sales person trying to sell you something you've expressed zero interest in, but in a way that ensures a buyer won't think twice about purchasing because of your pricing. You need to convince a decision maker beyond the shadow of a doubt that it will add unique value to their business or lifestyle.

How will your product help a buyer achieve whatever their end goal may be? Focus your sales strategy on value messaging that sells an outcome and not a product.

Let’s look at six ways to implement a value-selling framework throughout the sales process:

#1. Think through your product.

Many companies spend tons of time and money building their product well—and then quickly throw a sales strategy together and expect customers to fall head over heels with little effort from their sales organization.

If only it were that easy.

As a marketer or sales person, it's important to get down to the emotions and think about your buyer personas and what their deepest desires and fears are.

Start by brainstorming ways, big or small, that your product can help a prospective client. And not just the obvious things either. Get down to the nitty-gritty.

  • Can your product help a business boost their productivity in the workplace?
  • Does your product only take 5 minutes to learn how to use?
  • Can your product respond to customer questions within an hour?

Now, think about your value proposition, or what differentiates your product from your competitors.

  • Does it perform faster?
  • Is it a new, patented design?
  • Do you offer high-touch support or a longer term warranty?

Use these points to develop a marketing and sales enablement strategy that shows buyers how your product can help them perform better in their field, beat their competition, build their business... you get the idea. The key is to aim for their heart — not their wallet.

#2. Don’t pitch too early.

If B2B sales professionals and marketers engage with a customer with only the finish line (aka the sale) in mind, chances are you'll fail before you leave the starting block. This is where value-based sales comes into play.

Some of the best sales pitches don’t start off with a cold sales email telling you about a discount on their course. They involve multiple touches that offer education and value before ever attempting to sell you something.

Don’t be tempted to send your customers a welcome email and then follow it up with a ‘Buy now’ email. Use this first touchpoint to share the different features of your product or business, big or small, that you mapped out in step #1.

Ease your customer into the buying decision with trust.

#3. Take note of what industry leaders are doing.

This is another value-based sales tactic that many businesses forget about. Some call it competitor research.

No matter how successful your business is, it's vital to stay tuned in to what your competitors are doing. Keeping an eye on industry leaders can not only give you an edge but also provide inspiration and knowledge.

This doesn’t mean entering a pricing war or copying product features — but just the opposite. Once you understand what competitors are doing, you can identify gaps in their offerings, translating to opportunities for you to fill those gaps and offer potential customers more value.

Knowing how to differentiate your product in the market is an essential sales technique, no matter how saturated the market may be.

#4. Be an educator, not a salesperson.

The best examples of a value-selling framework don't even look like sales pitches.

They start off as education, and from there companies are able to build trust and brand awareness and become a trusted solution when the customer is ready to spend money to solve their problem. Only then do the sales reps step in to close the deal.

Check out the brilliance behind Mailchimp's in-house education hub.

Mailchimp has created a one-stop shop for everything a company needs to know, from identifying their audience to writing their first marketing email to understanding analytics reports.

The tips and resources aren't all directly correlated to features of Mailchimp itself either; the company has cunningly created an enormous amount of free material that will ultimately do one thing — educate their buyer persona on email marketing.

Whether the person using the resources is a customer or not, there is no denying the impact of their value-based sales methodology: Mailchimp is providing an enormous amount of free educational content all while building their brand reputation as a trustworthy industry source.

The beauty of this is if you give, give, give to your customer from the very beginning and throughout the sales cycle, when you do approach them with an offer, you have already subconsciously earned their trust by demonstrating your expertise.

#5. Eliminate your buyers' fears.

It doesn’t matter how much value you think you have added to your product—if you can’t convince your prospective client that you'll definitely solve their problem, they aren't going to click Buy.

There are lots of different ways you can eliminate your customers' fears.

(For instance, at Copper we give you a free 14-day trial to take it for a test drive.)

Case studies are an excellent approach to to show customer value by demonstrating existing customer successes. Whether they're in the form of a customer video or a written success story, sharing feedback from companies that already love your product can go a long way to persuade potential buyers.

The important thing to remember for value-selling associates is that you need to address buyers' fears along each step of the journey. This is especially true if you have a product with different tiers, as there may be different objections at each level or at different stages of the sales process.

Check out how DocuSign helps build confidence with potential customers.

With the varying needs of different industries, DocuSign provides a robust Customer Stories page featuring case studies from a variety of verticals.

Plus, they offer different formats depending how their various buyer personas prefer to engage: video or text.

Once you have established some trust and rapport with a prospect, you can continue to build on this value and influence their buying decision by offering in-depth resources like reports or white papers.

#6. Highlight the personal benefits of using the product.

This is arguably the most important aspect of a value-selling framework: touching on customers' pain points and clearly showing them how much they'll personally benefit from your product.

This can be done in many ways. For example, value messaging could look like marketing your product as something that can boost your customers' happiness, confidence, or productivity.

Don’t underestimate this step when you're planning how to add value to your product, as the strongest impulse on your customer’s buying journey will be that of emotion.

Toyota's 2021 Super Bowl commercial is a powerful example of touching on customers' emotions.

The campaign focuses entirely on Paralympic gold medalist swimmer Jessica Long's story. It does not mention a single Toyota product.

Instead, the campaign focused on communicating a message of hope and conveying the company's values during a time when many people were still facing the hardships of the COVID pandemic.

Value-based sales isn't always about the product, it's also about what your brand stands for. Toyota conveyed its commitment to the community, an admirable value that pulled on viewers' heartstrings.

Be human and help solve people's problems.

Selling a product takes a lot more than just picking a price and loading it in your eCommerce system—especially in the B2B space. The groundwork and strategic thinking behind how to appeal to your customers might seem overwhelming, but it's an important step in a value-selling approach and will go a long way to prepare buyers for a sales conversation.

Regardless of how your product is priced, a value-based sales process can be an effective way to persuade potential customers to make the purchase. If as sales leaders, you focus on getting into buyers' heads and solving their problems, you'll be on the right track.

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