Value-based selling: How to increase sales and differentiate yourself with the CLOSE sales methodology

By Leigh Famigliette | August 1, 2022

As the recession calls get louder on Wall Street, it can feel downright impossible to close deals. Have you rethought your sales approach for the current economy? As budgets tighten and purchase requirements grow, relying on a traditional, solution-focused pitch won’t help your sellers get deals over the finish line. Value-based selling will. Closing deals today means telling the buyer’s story – one that features them as the hero that utilizes the value of your solution to address their unique business problems.

Focus on value-based selling to improve win rates

According to Forrester Consulting, only 10% of buyers report that sales reps are value-focused, with most still using the traditional, one-size-fits-all “product pitch.” That results in a Value Gap, which is the divide between buyer expectations and the conventional sales and marketing product or service pitch. To close the gap, you must focus on the prospect’s challenges and how you can uniquely solve their issues. It’s not about you, your company, and your solutions. It’s about making your prospect the hero in overcoming their specific challenges. The most successful sales reps “pitch” their offer only 7% of the time. They spend the remainder of the time engaging the prospect as an advisor and showing the value their product or service can bring them.

Creating heroes in your sales story allows you to successfully transition from the typical product pitch to a value-based sales experience and bridge the Value Gap in a collaborative, prescriptive way.

The CLOSE conversation guide: Make your customer the hero with sales storytelling

The CLOSE Conversation Guide is a storytelling framework to help you articulate value and improve sales effectiveness. CLOSE puts your prospect at the heart of the story and makes them the hero. It removes the focus from what benefits you can provide and instead sets the stage for the buyer’s challenges and the pain they are experiencing. By using the CLOSE methodology you identify the challenges the prospect faces before going over the benefits you can provide.

The 5 key elements of CLOSE storytelling are:

What does CLOSE empower sellers to do?

Tell a cohesive and compelling value-based selling story

It’s one thing to tell a story; it’s another to make it memorable. As sellers struggle with how to influence buyers to make actual change, the winning approach is (literally) ancient. Aristotle shared the secret to telling a complete and comprehensive story more than 2,300 years ago. And it starts with Pathos, Logos, and Ethos.

Pathos – Appeal to emotions. Communicate your value in a story and utilize visuals and interactive content to make the story more memorable. Paint a picture to show contrast between the status quo and the proposed improvement.

Logos – Appeal to logic and reason. Quantify the pains and risks of the status quo. What is the “cost of doing nothing?” Address the strategic and financial benefits, including ROI, key performance metrics, and quantified improvements within reach. Provide financial justification for the purchase, and make it personal, relevant, and specific.

Ethos – Appeal to credibility. Provide evidence to prove that the projected benefits are tangible and achievable. Include third-party validation such as video testimonials, case studies, and data output from ROI/TCO calculators. Document financial benefits, ROI, and realized value achieved by similar customers.

With the right balance of emotion, rationale, and evidence (in that order), you can develop the necessary conversation elements to articulate your value story in a way that resonates with buyers. 

Use value-based selling to differentiate yourself from your competition

B2B buyers have a lot of choices. And with all-time high inflation levels, 20% of CFOs and their deputies, including vice presidents of finance, plan to cut costs through July. Experts expect that number to double in the fourth quarter.

Your unique value can only be effectively quantified and communicated at the intersection of buyer challenges and solution differentiators. Communicate how your solution is unique, and, most importantly,  why it is unique to the buyer. As buyers become more and more hesitant to spend, communicating the differentiating value you can bring to the customer can make all the difference.

Quantify the value of your solution: The cost of inaction

One-size-fits-all sales messaging doesn’t cut it anymore. In a 2022 Gartner survey, B2B buyers selected content for business case development or value assessments as the most valuable information for making a final purchase decision. Igniting change in buyers starts with communicating your ability to deliver unique benefits and quantifying the cost of inaction for individual prospects.

It helps to categorize your benefits in customer-centric terms around the challenges they wish to solve. In most cases, you can group benefits into four categories:

  1. Cost Savings/Avoidance: How your solution can help reduce specific capital or operating expenses or potentially avoid future purchases (excluding labor and process-related expenses)
  2. Productivity/Process Improvements: How your solution can improve the productivity of specific workers or scale and streamline a process workflow
  3. Risk Avoidance: Reducing or avoiding business risks and reducing costs should the risk be realized
  4. Revenue Growth: Capturing revenue opportunities or avoiding potential revenue losses/challenges

Facilitate the buyer’s journey: Improve win rates and shorten sales cycles

Buying processes have de-evolved, with 55% of buyers indicating that their buying journey has increased either “somewhat or significantly” to the tune of six to nine months. Even worse, on average, 4 out of 10 B2B purchase attempts end in “no-decision.” Your champion faces an uphill battle to drive a positive purchase decision.

Sellers have an opportunity to help the prospect facilitate the buyer’s journey. By sequentially delivering the right messaging, insights, financial justification, and differentiation, you can help champions gain consensus with their increasingly large buying committees and motivate prospects to say “yes!” With value messaging, tools, and training, your revenue teams can have the right conversations at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

From pitch to purpose: Switch from product-led sales decks to value-based selling

Research shows that effectively evolving your customer conversations from pitching products to selling with value leads to better differentiation and improved competitive win rates. Implementing the CLOSE methodology helps your sellers engage earlier with a more distinguished, value-led approach, ensuring they have the right content to have the right conversation with the right buyer at the right time. Moving beyond a traditional product pitch means leveraging your technology investments to improve value storytelling, offer diagnostic assessments and business value quantification to drive purchase decisions, and ultimately, win more deals.

To start formulating your value-based selling story now, download Storytelling 101: A guide for modern B2B sellers.

Leigh joined the content strategy and growth marketing team at Mediafly in January 2022 where she helps with all content marketing initiatives to drive traffic, demand, and growth. She attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst Isenberg School of Management and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Marketing.

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