‘A premium return to the customer is all the justification you need to require a premium investment’ says Mack Hanan in Key Account Selling.

Most sales managers understand the importance of adding value, but are confused about what the term actually means. In the small sale, you can define value as ‘the product/service matches the customer’s requirements at a competitive price’.

Therefore adding value is exceeding the customer’s requirement. It answers the question: ‘What more can you do for me today?’ A typical added-value checklist might include the following: technical hotlines, training, marketing assistance, product development, delivery, guarantee, returns and repairs, communications management, merchandising programmes, advertising support, customer base research, on-line ordering.

These are all valuable, and I’m sure your sales training focuses on adding value to what you sell and then stressing the benefits of these services to your customers. This approach works well up to and including middle managers, but top management wants quantification of the value you add to their business.

Add value for the customer

The secret in the major sale is to concentrate on adding value for the customer rather than to the product.

What does this look like at close range? We’ve seen that value in the small sale is matching the customer’s requirement at a competitive price. In the large sale, value is one thing and one thing only – return on investment. It equates to the ability to improve the customer’s bottom line.

Words are the language of the small sale; numbers are the language of the major sale. Talking about value added without quantification lacks impact. It’s a sideshow that doesn’t matter. Salespeople who shy away from talking numbers and discuss ‘improved productivity’ or ‘ease of use’ or ‘low maintenance’ without quantifying its value add nothing to a major sales dialogue.

Show me the numbers

In the Tom Cruise movie, Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr won an Oscar nomination for his electric performance around the ‘Show me the money’ punch line. Change this to ‘Show me the numbers’ and you have the key to major sales.

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