What is Value?

By Greta Schulz

What value do you bring? When I ask this question to a group of people, I get lots of different answers. Most people will say things such as: “We give great customer service. We give people a very competitive price. We have knowledge that others don’t. We’ve been in the industry for a long time. We’ve always been rated No. 1 or No. 2 in our industry.”

It’s disturbing to me when a salesperson says to a prospect, “We work with lots of clients like you,” or, “We’ve worked in your industry for a long time and we’re specialists in that industry, so we know what you need.” That is extremely presumptuous. I think when you say that to someone, you are immediately putting him or her into the category of “There’s nothing special about you and your business is just like everyone else’s.” As soon as you make someone feel that way, it changes the consultation and immediately turns you into “just another salesperson.”

There is actually only one answer to the question, “What value do you bring?” And the answer is very simple: “It depends.” Value does not come from you; it comes from the person with whom you’re speaking. This is why features and benefits selling doesn’t work anymore; the benefit of a particular feature that you have may be unrelated to what your prospect believes the benefit or value is. The receiver of the benefit will perceive its value. He or she will decide if it’s a benefit or not.

How do you understand what is valuable to another person? You have to ask them some really good questions. For example, you might ask: “What is your biggest challenge when it comes to _____? If you have success with a new product or service in that area, what would that success look like? What would be the advantage of using a product or service that would allow you to _____?”

The questions you ask allow people to talk about what they deem is most important to them. Once they are telling you the points of importance, you can then give them a customized solution that is based on what they said they wanted.

What have you done here? Well, not only have you listened to the prospect’s issues and concerns, you have come up with a solution based on those particular needs as THEY see them. So when someone asks what your value is, or what makes you better than the next guy, don’t answer that question until you fully understand what they want. And even if you do understand, don’t answer it anyway; the information they tell you will be much more valuable.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business, a sales consulting and training firm. She is a best-selling author of “To Sell is NOT to Sell” and works with Fortune 1,000 companies and entrepreneurs. For more information or free sales tips, go to schulzbusiness.com and sign up for “GretaNomics,” a weekly video tip series, or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com.

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