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Sell to those who see your value

I bemoan buyers who confuse cheapness with value. As a director, I want to see project proposals based on best value outcomes, which is not the same as lowest input costs. But, as I also pointed out, it’s my role as a seller to demonstrate value that’s relevant to the buyer. As Greg remarked in a comment on my earlier post:
“… the problem is more often the sellers inability to convey the value they offer to the buyer. They don’t really understand the customer’s problem and why their product is a unique solution to it. People don’t want to buy an inferior solution, they just don’t want to pay extra for a solution that doesn’t look much different from the cheaper version”.
Let’s put that another way:
  • Do you understand the customer’s need? (That needn’t necessarily be what the customer originally said it was).
  • Does the customer agree with your perception of that need?
  • Does your proposition satisfy that need? Again, does the customer agree?
  • Does your proposition offer superior value compared to the alternatives?
  • Can you clearly explain your superior value proposition?
  • Does your customer accept that proposition and agree that the extra value is worth it to them?
If the answer to that last question is no, it can mean one or more things:
  • You need to improve your prospecting, qualification and selling process.
  • The customer needs to improve their need definition/buying process.
  • Your market offer needs to be improved in some way so that it does represent superior value.
  • Your basis of superiority is irrelevant to this customer.
  • You’re in the wrong business.
Only one of these is a fault on the customer’s part. The rest are down to you. And remember, unless you are aiming to be a monopoly, you shouldn’t expect to win every opportunity. But you can choose customers in the same way that customers chose suppliers. Focus on customers for whom your market offer superiority is relevant, and avoid customers for whom it isn’t. It will save both sides a lot of wasted time, effort and angst.

First published 3 August 2009