Customer value strategies are beneficial to both a business and its patrons. It’s a win:win, and you can usually count the return on investment in repeat business or positive reviews. You can create value for your customers by offering excellent and fast service, offering your expertise at no cost, or giving customers an experience to remember.
Giving to get back is not a new strategy in sales. However, few know how to apply it correctly and in the right setting to make a difference.
“We recently completed a study of 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers who outbound prospect to uncover what works (and what doesn’t) when trying to create sales discussions. While 82 percent of buyers say they accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them, only 42 percent of sales meetings are valuable to buyers. Sellers are dropping the ball when it comes to providing value,” said Mike Schultz, president of the RAIN Group.
We spoke to six sales experts about how they work to create value to their customers in sales, and what results they experienced.
Here’s how to sell without really selling, according to experienced sales reps.
Always Be Selling? More Like, Always be Helpful
The consultative sales approach is an incredibly popular strategy, and for good reason. It’s highly effective at gaining business and keeping it. Always be helpful and make sure you are offering the best advice for your customer to help him.
“There is a quote I love that says: ‘Selling doesn’t help; helping always sells.’ This is the mantra that I use – I try to recognize what their needs are so I can provide a solution. The more we do that, not only do we get a sale, but we get a long-term relationship going”, said Brian Marshall, account executive at TINYpulse.
It’s Not About You, It’s About the Customer
Focusing on the needs of your customer goes hand in hand with this tactic. The story should not be about you and your product– it needs to be about your customer and their problems.
“When I focus on what our future customer care most about (their goals, their plans, their challenges, and their questions), the response is most of the time positive (great feedback),” said Joshua Feinberg, president of the Data Center Sales & Marketing Institute.
Giving away information and engaging content has proven to be a very effective way to nurture leads into sales opportunities.
Free Stuff? It Always Works
A classic example of ways you can create value for customers is to offer free samples, convenience and add-ons. If the offer is something the customer didn’t expect, this contributes to the delight factor.
“For better visualization of custom orders we provide a free digital mock-up service to our customers. The mock is made as required by the customer. Once the customer confirms it, we start the production phase of that particular product,” said Saud Ibrahim, digital marketing manager at The Jacket Maker, a B2C firm offering ready-to-wear and custom jackets. They also offer free delivery worldwide, as well as free alterations in case the product doesn’t fit.
Another strategy is to get personal about the free things you offer. If you are a published author, you can use your book as a way to seal the deal. The book will offer useful advice, as well as offer a glimpse into your personality, history and style.
“Whenever I have a prospect that is on the fence about using my services, I give him or her a copy of one of my books for free. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that if they’re talking to me about a serious monthly commitment, they’ve probably at least checked out my books. The second reason is that my books are an incredible authority and credibility builder. When the prospect reads them, he or she sees that I am the only right person for the job,” said James Pollard, at TheAdvisorChoach.com.
But Careful About Gifts in B2B Sales
Offering a small gift for a purchase, or even before it takes place, is a common strategy in B2C settings. In B2B however, there are regulations that might not allow the tactic.
“Reciprocation is one of the laws of behavior that has elevated the human species above all others. Unlike other species, we extend our collaboration beyond our families and tribes to anyone who does us a favor. Reciprocation is so powerful that B2B buyers are forbidden from accepting gifts or gift equivalents exceeding a certain value,” shows Calum Coburn, of Negotiations.com.
He advises B2B sellers to go under the radar when it comes to adding value to their sales tactic.
“If it’s not on the list, it’s usually fair game. We, for example, profile our client’s negotiators using our Negotiation Diagnostic Profile. While we do sell the profile and debrief reports session separately, if we’re motivated to convert an account, we’ll offer this service upfront on a no commitment basis. Not only does this invoke reciprocation, we spend plenty of time talking. We demonstrate value to the client and get an in-depth knowledge into their negotiators’ needs,” added Calum.
Provide Useful Content
Useful content is always a magnet for potential customers, because it offers them value and educates them. At the same time, it establishes you as a source of authority in the industry you operate in.
“One of the best ways to gain organic leads and to prove to would-be consumers that you’re an industry business to be trusted is to provide consumers with useful content. (…) By offering practical and useful content to target consumers, those consumers come to know – and more importantly, trust – your company,” said Nate Masterson, marketing manager for Maple Holistics.
Adding case studies and success stories is also a great way to give your customer someone to relate to: “The core intent [with case studies] is to bring value to the small business owner. We have received many direct calls and emails from business owners telling us that they were relieved to learn that they weren’t the only owners experiencing the same issues – they appreciated learning how to fix some of the issues they were facing,” said Mark Thacker, president of Sales Xceleration.
The quirk is that lately there is an influx of content in virtually every industry. However, personalized and targeted content geared towards a particular customer can help you get through the noise.
“According to our research, the top three types of content that influences buyers to accept a meeting or otherwise connect include: primary research data relevant to our business (69%), descriptions of the provider’s capabilities and content 100% customized to our specific situation (67%),” said Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group.
And That Means Interactive Content As Well
When it comes to content, interactive content like assessments have better conversion rates than static content. The “give-to-get” play from XANT offers an audit of a sales teams’ lead response times and allows them to compare to benchmarks in the industry. They can then receive tips on how to get better at lead response management, with the goal of increasing revenue.
Mark Thacker, president at Sales Xceleration, describes a similar strategy for using assessments to create value for customers: “At Sales Xceleration, we offer small business owners a free 10 question Sales Agility Assessment that provides a unique report on how their company compares to the ideal sales model on a scale based on a scoring range from 1-100. (…) We have found the Sales Agility Assessment to be a win-win. Small business owners have told us how much they appreciate learning where they are benchmarked against other owners, along with the helpful advice on how to improve their sales organization,” said Mark Thacker.