Find Best Value Needs and Win
“Commodities” used to mean things like wheat. Now yesterday’s technological breakthroughs becomes today’s commodity at blinding speed. Regardless of your industry, chances are that your competitors sell wares identical or very similar to yours.
Every day it gets harder to differentiate your products according to the standard features/benefits criteria. It also keeps getting harder to differentiate your company with some unique capabilities. Yet unless you do differentiate yourself successfully by offering some value that competitors can’t duplicate, you can only compete on price. That means you’re trapped on a pathway to lower margins.
How do you find that unique value to offer? Our sales book “Sales Strategy From the Inside Out” describes how. In part, it comes down to identifying and serving particular kinds of customer needs. Action Selling calls them Best Value Needs.
To Escape the Price Trap, find Best Value Needs
Unlike commodity needs that any vendor can satisfy, and unlike differentiated needs that only your company can satisfy, Best Value Needs are customer concerns that your competitors could address with their own capabilities-but won’t. Either it won’t occur to them because they haven’t found these Best Value Needs, or you can provide a solution in a tangibly better way.
The way to uncover BVNs is by asking great questions. Suppose your product has a feature that can provide the customer with timely management information that could be used to improve performance. You might ask a sequence of questions like these: What issues arise when you lack the information you need to determine the best course of action in a situation? What are the potential consequences of making decisions without timely and accurate data? How would making the wrong decision impact you personally?
When customers agree that timely and accurate information is critical to the company and to them personally, you are in a fantastic position to respond to a Best Value Need. Once you have agreed with the customer on that BVN, target it when you present your solution. You will differentiate yourself by demonstrating extreme value.
Learn how to separate yourself from the pack.
Action Selling in ACTION!
Phil Underwood of Columbus, Georgia, is an area consultant who handles business clients for Veolia Environment Services, a waste-management firm. His basic offerings (size of dumpster, frequency of pickup) are commodities, easily matched by competitors. After attending an Action Selling program on sales strategy, Underwood called on an auto manufacturer who was doing business with one of those competitors.
He entered the call with a Best Value Questions plan. His questioning revealed that the garbage compactor supplied by the competitor was located next to the outdoor seating area of a neighboring assisted-living facility. The residents, Underwood learned, “had to see the compactor, hear the compactor, and smell the compactor.”
Recognizing a Best Value Need, Underwood turned up the heat with more questions (“How concerned are you about the impact on these elderly neighbors?”). He came back with a proposal for a new compactor in a new location. He even offered to help find a contractor who would pour a cement pad for the relocated equipment.
Underwood’s price was 35 percent higher than the rate the client had been paying, “but the competitor never had an in,” he says. They weren’t even close.
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