Featured on the cover of Sales and Service Excellence
Why do people buy organic produce, pay for an upgrade on an airplane, or pay for water in a bottle? All of those products are more expensive than their unqualified counterparts. People pay more because they perceive value. Buyers know they can get a similar product for less, but they would rather pay more and get the value that’s meaningful to them. Products like this sell trust and value, and they focus on these instead of on selling price. This way of thinking can improve your sales, regardless of industry, and this article will give you some ideas of where to begin.
Focus on What Really Matters
Focusing on cost at the start of your conversation can derail the entire sales process. So why, if you would never begin a sales conversation there, why do you derail the conversation by defaulting to price later? The truth is that most of us were taught to sell from a place of weakness rather than a place of power. Too many sales leaders have created environments where the reward is for selling quantity not quality.
Selling quantity over quality might have worked in an economy when competition was slim, margins were fat, and the business was controlling the buying cycle. But today, there is no room for a portfolio full of customers who are not willing to meet your price and pay a fair value for your product or service. To win in this economy, you need to focus on prospects and customers who understand and appreciate the value of the relationship they have with you and your company and are willing to pay for it. To attract and retain those types of customers, your focus needs to be on building trust and adding value first, with price coming in much, much later.
Make Price a Detail
Your goal should always be to demonstrate how your product or service will make an impact, solve a problem, enhance their product, or give your customer peace of mind.
You did not get into the business you’re in because you are passionate about low pricing. You had an idea or concept you believed would help someone get what they wanted, or you wanted to take on the challenge of delivering a service in a new and better way. That is a big part of the value you offer. Once your customer is able to see and appreciate that value, the price becomes secondary and certainly not a deal breaker.
Timing is everything
Build trust before value. Build value before price.
If customers ask early on about price, validate their question. Then, be honest that you cannot discuss price until you fully understand what they need and how you can help. Do that because it is true. All too often we undersell or oversell a prospect or customer, because we did not take the time to uncover the depth of their need. To truly service customers and help them ensure they are comparing apples to apples (when comparing your product to that of your competitor) put value on the table before you discuss dollars. Otherwise, it can seem as if so it you are giving a number and then trying to justify it.
If your customers trusts you, if you have invested the time to identify their issues, and if you have fully explained the solution you can provide, then pricing that reflects the value that your product will give them should be welcomed by them. Why? Because the prospects understand their return on investment.
Selling in this style ensures there will be a ready market for your services– no matter where your price point happens to be. You’ve spent money, assumed risk and put forth significant effort to be in a position to give help to your customer in the first place. You should not feel wrong about asking a fair value for your contribution to the marketplace. In this case, what they pay for includes the most important services you offer – trust and value.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take it Slow
Since what you are truly selling is trust and value, you need to accept that it will take some time to win the confidence of your prospect in order to make him or her feel comfortable about making a purchase. Trust takes time to develop, period. People are naturally cautious about accepting information being presented to them by someone they don’t know very well. This is especially true in the modern business climate where marketing campaigns frequently cross the fine line between crafting an appealing public image and blatantly false advertising. Respect and trust are, therefore, precious commodities, well worth taking the time to cultivate in business relationships.
The more often a prospect interacts with you and your staff, the more invested they become in maintaining a positive relationship with your company. When the time comes to decide where to buy necessary products, the customer is going to choose to do business with a company they already feel a connection to. Since most purchasing decisions are made to meet an immediate need, starting the process of establishing a relationship and developing trust with a provider is usually neither practical nor possible at that point.
If you have already taken the steps required to build trust and demonstrated that you can provide value with your product line, you have created a scenario in which it will be very difficult for your competition to even get a seat at the table.
What Goes Around Comes Around—Big Time
As sales professionals, helping people is the way we live. We need to be always listening, always helping others find solutions, and always putting the needs of our prospects and clients above our own. When we sell this way, sales takes on a life of its own, and price becomes far less of an issue as our clients choose us, our advocates refer us business, and we gain confidence from selling from a position of power rather than of need. We need to be building relationships with prospects and customers long before they have a need. Adding trust and value goes to a whole new level when your customers look to you to help them discover their buying needs.
To gain a true advantage over your competition, don’t get bogged down in price gouging wars with other similar companies. This is not the way to build your business. Stand out from the competition by adopting an entirely different business strategy that allows you to keep your focus firmly fixed on your customers and what you can do for them. By creating an atmosphere of trust and partnership with all prospective buyers (whether they become buyers or not), you will ensure that your company is the first choice that comes to their mind when the time comes to make serious purchases.
About the Author:
Meridith Elliott Powell is an international speaker, certified coach, and strategist who helps businesses and people master the relational skills needed to be successful in today’s competitive environment. She is the author of three books including the recently published Winning in the Trust & Value Economy (Global Professional Publishing, 2013). Meridith hosts the Secrets to Success Podcast on the award-winning, international Ambitious Entrepreneur podcast network and is a featured writer for SOLDLAB magazine, ReCharge! magazine and the Women’s Advisors Forum. For more information, visit www.motionfirstnow.com.