My wife and I were in an electronics store. Neither of us are big on electronics. Our TV is 17 years old which gives you an idea of our interest in the latest, greatest technology. We weren’t surprised to see unfamiliar brands.
When we asked about one of the brands the salesman said “It’s made in China, it’s a value play.” As soon as I heard that statement I realized why value selling is more difficult than it should be.
At first I thought that we, as salespeople, had just become sloppy in our language. That we were using the term ‘value’ to indicate low price. If that were true, then it’s little wonder that we’ve trained our customers to focus on low prices.
My second thought was that we were trying to dress up a low-price, low-quality offering by indicating that it was a ‘great value.’ That could make customers with limited budgets feel better about purchasing low-end offerings.
Finally it dawned on me that a ‘value play’ is any situation in which the value exceeds the price being paid from the buyer’s perspective. That’s true whether we’re selling B2B or B2C.
Let’s explore the implications of that definition of value play. That means that someone who is paying top dollar for the best combination of quality and service that exist and the person who is opting for the lowest priced, poorest combination of quality and service will, both, feel that they’re getting good value.
What does that mean for us as sellers? It means that we have to define value differently for the market segments we serve. We need to use language like “If you value quality, dependability and service, this option provides the best solution for you. If, however, you’re simply looking for something to fill an immediate need, this alternative offers reasonable quality at an affordable price.”
By defining the value options available to our customers we make it easier for them to choose the right solution for the situation they’re facing and, simultaneously, equate value to the price they’re paying.
I don’t want to imply that we should target or even tolerate customers whose only consideration in the buying decision is price. I’ve been in the business world for over 40 years and have yet to see a price buyer who was ever satisfied with his/her purchase. That’s as true in B2B as B2C.
Price buyers are the folks you want to refer to your competitors so that they’re draining your competitors’ time, energy and resources, not yours.
As salespeople we need to realize that when we use the term ‘value’ we need to define it for each option we offer. Developing this as a habit helps us avoid getting sloppy in our language, giving our customers the impression that low price equals value and simplifies the customer’s decision-making process. Happy selling!