Written by Sean McPheat |
What was that? You mean, there are different kinds of value the customer is looking for?
Boy, I thought it was hard enough selling value to my customer, and now you’re telling me that there may be different ways that they evaluate value! What can I do about that?
This is often the reaction when we discussion the concept of selling value on our courses. It can be puzzling to the salesperson when the prospect highlights differing values that they will require to be dealt with during the sales process.
There are basically four types of values that a prospect will be judging your offerings against: Strategic, operational, political and psychological.
They may tell you endlessly that operational issues are the main criteria they will use to assess the benefits of your products. What will they be able to accomplish if they choose you? What savings will I be able to present to the board? How successful will my project be if I use your services?
Operational and even strategic and political issues will come into play if you are selling at a high level. Yet, the drive of the psychological values is most often the ones that are most powerful.
You don’t need to be told that people buy products and services to help them fulfil deep-seated psychological needs. You know that already. But what needs specifically are catered for by using your products and services?
The main psychological values are ensuring survival, avoiding pain, being part of a group and satisfying the ego. Anything else they may say they need (return on investment, the lowest cost per unit, highest production ratio to cost, etc.) is really a means to an end…the need being one of the psychological needs above.
When we asked one client of ours why they continued to use us, the summary was really interesting. This is what was said: “When we first started using you, we knew you weren’t the cheapest. In some areas, your competitors were even better. But we knew that we wanted a long-term relationship, and to be able to get on with the trainers and support team. That was more important to us, and you were the only company we trusted could offer that for us.”
We recognised that trust was really important for this client, and that equated to avoiding the pain of making a wrong decision, plus satisfying the ego. Everything else fitted into place when those psychological needs were dealt with.
These needs can override other, more outward-looking analyses that customers may feel they require. Decisions are made on an emotional basis, and justified later with logic. What the customer may perceive to be a rational need really turns out to be an emotional want.
For example, “We need the lowest price per unit” actually turns out to be “I want to show my boss I can drive a hard bargain, so he sees me as assertive and respects my judgement.
Also, “We need delivery within one week” actually turns out to be “If I can get such a quick delivery, I will show those people in accounts that I can be trusted after all”.
So, try to identify the psychological reason why the value is so important to the prospect, and you’ll see opportunities that may not have been evident before.
Originally published: 2 September, 2014