If your customers don’t understand your value, perhaps the problem is YOU and not them.
This is a complaint I hear from salespeople all the time; salespeople complain that their customers – or some of their customers – don’t ‘get’ why they charge a higher price than competitors. My response is always the same; “What do you do to help them understand your value?” The difference between a salesperson and an order-taker is the ability to communicate, and convey understanding, of value between your ‘stuff’ and the competitor’s ‘stuff.’
Among other disciplines, selling is an activity of persuasion. Persuasion is the capability to take someone who doesn’t buy into your point of view and communicate with them in such a fashion that they not only understand, but buy into, your point of view. If you have no persuasive skills – or if you don’t use them – your customers won’t buy into your value. Fortunately enough, there are a few steps to using those skills with customers, and that’s what we will discuss in the rest of the article.
Understanding: The first step in persuasion is establishing common ground by understanding the customer’s situation. Much of “added value” of certain products can be their long-term effects, and sometimes there is no value to the higher-priced product for the customer. Here’s a perfect example: Last week I visited my local paint store to buy paint for my race car (a dirt track stock car). Dirt track cars get raced hard, and they get dented and rubbed hard. No matter how good your paint is, the car itself will probably be rebodied after one year, minimum. So I purchased Valspar Farm Implement enamel (International Harvester Red, if you’re curious) for 50 bucks. The counterman tried to show me the value in purchasing the $200 PPG red urethane, because it will last longer in the sun. True – farm paint turns chalky after a couple of years – but what do I care? By the time the paint turns chalky, the body will have been cut off and put in the scrap pile – maybe even becoming a paperclip. Only through truly understanding your customer’s needs can you persuade them of value in a higher priced product. If your customer’s needs don’t match the benefits of your product, they might indeed be happier with a different purchase.
Explanation: Now it’s time to explain value, but go beyond simple explanation; use benefit statements and ask confirming questions to gauge understanding. “Explanation” is simple and easy. Persuasive selling is not. If your benefits are in the long term, you should be prepared to show what those long term effects are – both positive and negative. The professional salesperson communicates benefits and always makes sure that the customer understands, buys into, and wants those benefits. “Wanting” the benefits for their own is critical; your customer can reach understanding and buy-in of those benefits without wanting to own them. My paint example is perfect; for another car I would definitely want the benefits of the higher-priced paint. Just not for this one.
Proof: Offering proof of benefit is critical. Let’s say that your product is a building material. You know that your building material has a lifespan of 30 years, and that your competitor’s lower priced product has a lifespan of 15 years. You know that it’s a fit because your customer wants to remain in their house for the long term. The missing piece is what happens to the cheaper stuff after 15 years. You need to explain what that effect is, perhaps even in a show-and-tell fashion. Do you have the tools and materials to do a show-and-tell? In this age of cell phone cameras, cheap video recorders, etc. there is no excuse for not being able to offer proof. Testimonials are also critical for offering proof; do you consistently work to gather them?
Commonality: When people are preparing to spend money on high-priced products, it helps to let them know that other smart people made a similar decision. Testimonials are part of that process, but so is your verbiage. Let’s paint a picture – you’ve hit your customer with the price, and now you have to go through that process that I like to call “Peeling your customer off the ceiling.” Let your customer know, “Look, I understand that my price is higher. But a lot of other people have made that decision and are very happy with it. Would you like to know why? Would you like to talk to them? (etc.)” How can you help others become part of your ‘team’ of customers?
If your customers don’t get your value, perhaps the place to look is in the mirror rather than right across the desk. This is all part of what goes into truly winning business rather than just simply getting it. And wouldn’t you rather be a winner?