First Person: Customer Perceived Value Begins With You

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As a professional, business-to-business sales person, sales manager and small business owner for most of my 30+ year career, one truth I can share with sales people is that customers buy when they perceive the value in what you are selling. The corollary to that truth is another: customer perceived value begins with you as a sales person.

First, Convince Yourself of the Value

Convincing yourself of the value before you go out to sell is important. If you are like most sales people I have worked with, you will have a difficult time holding your price when you question the real value that your product delivers. If your questions about its value are strong enough, the customer will read that and try to get out of the meeting as soon as possible.

Likewise, how you feel about your products and services will affect your enthusiasm and excitement. It will influence your willingness to build a relationship because you are confident that it will lead to happy customers.

In major corporations, you may be fortunate enough to get some quality sales training. In a small business, you will have to use initiative to learn on your own. My confidence in my products and services depended upon what I knew about them, how they worked and what value they contributed to my customers.

Technical Specifications Are Not Enough

Unfortunately, in the training I went through, it was generally focused on the specifications and technical aspects of the products. Occasionally, I was fortunate enough to get hands on application training so I at least understood how the product worked. The most important training for most people is to understand the value of your products and services from the viewpoint of your prospects.

Most of all, you need to learn what types of things people who match your ideal customer profile really care about. This is especially true for small business sales people. You need every edge. You will get more honest answers if you show by your questions that you understand what they might be dealing with because you know something about their industry and its typical problems.

Tips to Increase Your Belief in the Value of Your Products and Services

The following are some of the ways I learned and still learn about what my prospects care about:

- Talk to other sales people in the company about what makes this product so valuable.

- Talk to your technical support people and your product managers if any.

- Research customer ratings and customer reviews on the Internet

- I look for ratings around or above 4 out of 5 from at least ten customers. I also read their comments to understand their likes and dislikes.

- Talk to satisfied customers yourself to learn how they feel about your products and services and why they consider them valuable.

- If it's appropriate, learn to use your product yourself. When I started selling microcomputers, I fell in love with word processing because of my frustrations with trying to correct mistakes on a typewritten page.

- Talk to successful people in the same industry other than competitors. For instance, in the pet industry you have veterinarians, pet food, pet supplies and pet grooming. Talk to those who provide products and services that you don't.

In order to succeed in selling, you must sell customers what they feel they want and need. That means you need to understand what they perceive as valuable. Therefore, you must first believe in the value that you want to sell if you want them to accept it. Learn how your products and services deliver the benefits prospects want so do your research. Above you found six ways to do that, ways that work for me. This knowledge will enable you to develop a long term relationship with your small business prospects.

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More from this contributor :

In Sales, Value is All About Customer Perceived Value

Customer Perceived Value Is Key to Closing the Sale

Success in Selling Comes from Listening, not Telling

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