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Value selling: how value-oriented communication promotes sustainable sales

In addition to price and performance, the individual value or economic benefit of a product is a sales argument that often receives little attention. Value selling is a sales philosophy that is based precisely on this. The principle is the basis for sustainable customer management, enables lucrative upselling and extends the customer life cycle. How is everything connected and how does CRM help you with value selling? Find out in this article.

What is value selling?

According to the definition, value selling is a sales philosophy based on a benefit and value-oriented argumentation. It is about recognizing and communicating the individual customer benefits of a product.

The term “value selling” originates from marketing and sales and is viewed differently by different experts. Some examples:

“Value-based selling is a value-oriented sales philosophy in which […] the benefits for a customer also positively influence the perceived value of the service and the achievable price.” [1]

“The motto of value selling is that certain services are high-quality services with added value that are billed to the customer.” [2]

“We define value selling as an improvement in sales processes and interaction with customers. It consistently combines your own offering with the customer’s perspective and benefits.” [3]

The examples of value selling definitions could be supplemented by a few more. They show that the concept of value selling or value-based selling is not clearly defined. However, the basic idea is always the same, as the following explanation shows.

How value selling works: “Selling added value instead of products”

In a market with a large number of products that have very similar characteristics and qualities, a company needs other options in addition to price and performance to clearly differentiate its products from the competition. To do this, the sales department looks at a product from the customer’s point of view and assesses from this perspective which specific additional benefits or services can increase the value of a product.

After all, it is this specific value that makes a product more valuable for buyers. What is meant by this can be quickly illustrated by a clearly exaggerated example. Let’s take a simple pressure cooker – simple, but very illustrative. Anyone who cooks a lot will benefit accordingly. A family that eats mainly raw food, on the other hand, will derive less benefit from the product – even though its performance is theoretically the same. Value selling focuses precisely on these individual differences in value.

The different sales processes can also be better understood using this example.

A classic approach in sales would be to list product benefits.

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“This pot is made of high-quality stainless steel and is suitable for all kinds of food. With its ingenious pressure system, meals are cooked in no time at all and can even be stored in the pot.”

Value selling in sales, on the other hand, means understanding the customer’s individual situation. In addition to the advantages described above, this also means presenting the benefits and thus the special value of the product. As many families today have little time to cook and energy prices are very high, it makes sense to address these points:

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“This pot offers your family numerous advantages:

  • Shorter cooking times mean you can prepare meals not only 10 times faster, but also much healthier .
  • You also reduce your electricity consumption by at least 70% per cooking process compared to conventional saucepans.
  • So you protect the environment, your wallet, have less stress and more time for your family!”

The value selling example for the sales approach therefore differs significantly from the classic approach. The value-oriented approach does not focus on the product with its general characteristics, but shows the specific valuable benefits it brings. A successful summary of the value selling principle is therefore “selling added value instead of product features”.

Value selling: advantages for sales

Why do companies use value selling? There are a number of good reasons for this. The decisive factor is certainly the economic aspect of wanting to achieve more lucrative sales. There is indeed great potential here. Some authors estimate that 80 percent of companies sell their services below value. This often results from a lack of knowledge of the actual value that a product could bring to a customer. Value selling solves this dilemma by putting itself in the customer’s shoes and thereby gaining insights into its own product and its value. Customers are prepared to pay a higher price for this added value. This is how to find the best price.

The actual aim of value selling is, of course, to optimize the sales process and make it successful. As described above, a central part of the sales strategy is to communicate added value. These must be anchored visibly and sustainably with prospects and customers along the entire customer journey so that the decision is ultimately made in favor of your own product. The following chapters explain in detail all aspects that are important for successful value-based selling.

Implementing value sales: Preparing for negotiations is the be-all and end-all

Will it be sold or not? This crucial question is finally clarified in negotiations with (potential) customers. Value selling offers sales staff a tried and tested concept for achieving good deals. As this is an individualized strategy, preparation is essential for success. The following diagram shows an example of a possible preparation for value sales.

1. adopt the customer’s perspective

For value-based selling, it is important to understand the customer. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What is the customer’s situation?
  • Does he need a quick, permanent or long-term solution?
  • Did the request arise from a strategic consideration or an acute need?
  • How complex is the request – is it easy to fulfill or does it require specialization?
  • Who will make the decisions?

2. analyze the competition

The next step is to analyze your own competition. As a rule, there is a very clear picture in sales, for example with regard to market prices, market position, etc. Against the background of the value selling strategy, it is important to work out the weaknesses and, above all, the strengths of your own product. In this context, identify all the solutions you can offer.

Objective: Determine the UVP (Unique Value Proposition) – the features that make your product unique and better than comparable solutions.

3. identify benefits and values = find the added value for customers

Benefits and values now result from the first two steps. Check how well the requirements from step 1 match the solutions from step 2. The better your offer matches the demand, the greater the benefit and thus the value.

4. define goals

Even if the customer perspective is an important aspect of value selling, your own goals remain the measure of all things. Tip: When setting prices, don’t just take current considerations into account, but also take cost changes into account. Also prepare for possible upsell scenarios, for example by offering intelligent services. When preparing for negotiations, also calculate a realistic lower price limit.

5. compile arguments

You have now gathered all the information you need to prepare for the individual negotiation. Compile the arguments that have emerged from the four steps. For a successful conversation, it is advisable to weight these.

Value selling with CRM: making sensible use of existing data

The previous section focused on taking the customer’s perspective and analyzing the customer situation. But how do you achieve this? The necessary data is often already available to you – in the CRM system. A data analysis brings this treasure to light. Is there already a history with the customer? Then you can use this experience directly for your value selling preparation. But CRM data is also valuable for the initial contact. For example, they recognize industry-specific trends from the behaviour of customers and interested parties. Key figures such as Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) are interesting for defining your own targets – here too there are close links to CRM. By documenting every negotiation in the CRM system, you will ultimately build up an ever more extensive treasure trove of data.

Summary: What does sales need for value-added selling?

Various prerequisites are necessary for successful value-added selling. In summary, the following factors are important:

  • Deep knowledge and understanding of the customer’s needs
  • Usable data, for example from the CRM
  • Information about the competition
  • Identification of the individual added value of your own product
  • A clear target definition and a realistic lower price limit
  • Formulation of the unique value proposition
  • Uniform internal and external communication of the EIA

Outlook: Sustainable sales and value selling

The definition of sustainable sales is discussed as intensively as the definition of value selling. In general, economic, ecological and social factors play a role. With regard to the value-oriented approach, sustainable sales must be understood primarily in economic terms, while the other aspects often play a role in benefit communication.

Sustainability in this sense refers to sustainable customer loyalty, i.e. the longest possible customer life cycle. The resource invested is time and therefore money, namely for acquisition, initial contact and project management support. These factors make acquiring new customers more expensive than maintaining existing customers, so it makes economic sense to focus on long-term relationships.

Value selling is essential for this because it is designed for the long term and is not a one-off tactic. Showing values again and again at different touchpoints not only ensures that they are anchored in people’s minds, but also, in combination with positive reviews of your product, that new customers are found without cost-intensive advertising. Provided that your product delivers what you promise in terms of added value. This inspires customers and binds them to your brand. Positive reviews turn customers into free brand ambassadors.

What does sustainable customer management mean?

Sustainable customer management is made up of various measures. The following main topics can be defined:

  • Contact points
  • Personalization
  • Proximity and availability
  • Seamless experience

The best practices for sustainable sales processes show the extent to which the measures can be filled with life.

Upselling as an opportunity in value selling

The aim of upselling is to sell products at a higher price – incidentally, these are usually also products with an extended scope of services. In order to realize an upsell, it is important to present the added value of the higher-priced variant – and this already shows the central point of contact between value selling and upselling. Communicating added value and additional benefits is the most important argument for sales to increase sales of a more powerful or more comprehensive product.

The potential of an existing customer is particularly evident when upselling. It is possible to increase sales without expensive and time-consuming new acquisitions if the sales department knows the value of its own product for the customer.

Good to know: It is also possible to build cross-selling on value selling, i.e. to boost the sale of additional products. In both cases, it is a clear advantage when sales and project management work together. A CRM with project management makes this possible.

Intelligent services create greater value

Intelligent services or smart services are another exciting tool for value selling. Depending on the product, very specialized and personalized offers can be created here. In the example of the pressure cooker, the possibilities are soon exhausted – a product demonstration would perhaps be conceivable. For complex products, on the other hand, significantly more extensive intelligent services are possible – and in various sectors. A typical example of a Smart Service is data-supported maintenance and repair work. However, such services are also widely used in the software sector, for example for onboarding or support. The charming advantage: Smart Service can be adapted very specifically to a customer’s needs – and this creates the link to value selling. Here, intelligent services are often the strongest arguments for sustainable customer management and a long customer life cycle.

Best practices for sustainable sales process solutions

How can sustainable sales be realized? There are several options for this. Our best practices for sustainable sales solutions provide an insight into various areas that you can implement with a CRM solution such as GEDYS IntraWare.

Contact points: The more contact options there are, the better – at least as long as the same service is offered via each channel. The CRM system can be used to simplify communication effortlessly so that customers can make inquiries by phone, email or using a form and always receive the same high quality of response. Conversely, just under a third of private consumers are at risk of switching brands after a negative interaction – Customer churn is also a problem in B2B. You can counteract this with a CRM.

Personalization: Personalization is a decisive lever in value selling. CRM software enables companies to gain valuable data in order to better understand their customers, their problems and their wishes. Building on this, you offer customized solutions. The simple principle applies here: the value for customers is greatest when the offer fully meets their needs.

Proximity and availability: Communication is a focal point of customer relationship management. If possible, the provider should be quickly accessible, and not just in sales. In case of doubt, complaint management is an important building block for sustainable customer management. It is by no means the case that customers leave immediately in the event of problems. It is much more relevant how the provider reacts to this. Complaint management is simplified with a CRM with ticket system.

Seamless experiences: Seamless experiences are also an indispensable element for successful sustainable sales processes. Accessibility is important for this – in other words, not putting obstacles in the customer’s way, but offering consistent (smart) service. This means that every contact, whether from a landing page, via social media or from an event, must be responded to immediately and the processing must take place without any breaks between the media and the software. To do this, you not only need capable sales staff, but also the appropriate interfaces and integrations.

Conclusion: Don’t sell below value anymore!

Value selling is a marketing and sales term that encompasses many aspects. The central idea is to communicate not only price and performance to customers, but also the individual value of a product. This enables the best prices to be achieved, while at the same time value-oriented communication ensures satisfied and loyal customers. Sustainable customer management with value selling also makes it possible to extend the customer life cycle and achieve lucrative upselling deals.

[1] Value Based Selling II: Value Based Marketing Instruments / Marco Schmäh, Heinz Stark. – Reutlingen; European School of Business, Chair of Marketing and E-Commerce, 2006; 58 pp.