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Value-Based Selling: How to Increase Sales and Differentiate Yourself with the CLOSE Sales Methodology

By Tom Pisello | April 2, 2019

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When it comes to closing deals with today’s empowered, frugal buyers, there’s more to the story. As sellers work to optimize interactions with customers and prospects at later stages in the buying process, the traditional, solution-focused pitch rarely lands on a captive audience. Closing deals today means telling the buyer’s story – one that features them as the hero, who utilizes the value of your solution to address their unique business problems.

Focus on Value-Based Selling

CLOSE_image1-623x750 According to Forrester Consulting, a meager 10% of buyers report that sales reps are value-focused, with most still using the less-than-effective “product pitch.” The consequence is a Value Gap, a divide between buyer expectations and a traditional sales and marketing product or service pitch. Addressing this means focusing on their 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 challenges.

Creating heroes in your sales story means rewriting the dialogue from product pitch to value-based sales experience, and bridging 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 improve your value articulation and sales effectiveness. CLOSE puts your prospect at the heart of the story. And like any good story, it doesn’t jump right to the “happily ever after.” Instead, it removes the focus from what benefits you can provide first, and sets the stage for the buyer’s challenges and the pain they are experiencing. Pain before gain.

The 5 key elements of CLOSE storytelling are:

  • Challenge: What challenges can you help prospects tackle?
  • Loss: What are the challenges currently costing, if not addressed?
  • Opportunity: What is the value of addressing the challenge?
  • Solution: What product or service can deliver these business benefits?
  • Evidence: How can I be assured that the proposed solution can deliver?

What does CLOSE empower sellers to do?

Tell a Cohesive and Compelling Story
It’s one thing to tell a story; it’s another to tell a memorable one. Like many fundamentals of sales, what’s old is new again. As sellers still grapple with how to ignite buyers to make actual change, the approach is (literally) ancient; Aristotle shared the secret to telling a complete and comprehensive story more than 2,300 years ago. It starts with Pathos, Logos, Ethos.

Pathos – Appeal to the emotions. Communicate your value in a story and utilize visuals to make the story more memorable. Show contrast by painting a picture of the status quo versus the proposed improvements.

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, and make it personal, relevant, and specific.

Ethos – Appeal to credibility. Provide evidence to prove that the benefits are tangible and achievable. Include third-party validation of data and success stories, including video testimonials and case studies. Document the tangible financial benefits, ROI, and payback achieved by similar customers.

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




Differentiate Against Your Competition
Your unique value can only be effectively quantified and communicated at the intersection of buyer challenges and solution differentiators. Marketing collateral still offers a vendor-centric view of the proposed solution, services, and features, resulting in more discounting, lower win rates, and longer sales cycles. It’s important to communicate how your solution is unique, but it’s more important to communicate why your solution is unique to the buyer. Let’s be honest, your buyers have a lot of choices.

CLOSE_image5-623x750 A whopping 76% of deals don’t go to the company that wins the competitive bake-off. Instead, the wins go to the solution provider who engages early to help the buyer establish a buying agenda. (Forrester)

Quantify the Value of Your Solution: The Cost Of Inaction
One-size-fits-all value messaging doesn’t cut it anymore. In fact, 71% of executives in a recent SiriusDecisions survey found that the Value Gap, an inability for sales reps to effectively communicate value, is the top reason sellers fall short on quota goals. Igniting change in buyers starts with communicating your ability to uniquely deliver benefits, and quantify what the cost of inaction and benefits means to individual prospects.

It helps to categorize your benefits in customer-centric terms – around the challenges they wish to solve and derived business benefits. In most cases, these benefits can be grouped into four categories, from the most tactical to the most strategic:

  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: Increase Sales and Shorten Sales Cycles
Buying processes have de-evolved, with 84% of buyers reporting that their buying decisions are taking much longer than anticipated – for the majority, two times longer than planned. Worse, 94% have participated in a buying cycle that led to “no decision.” Your champion faces an uphill battle, driving a positive decision.

Sellers have an amazing opportunity to help the prospect facilitate the buyer’s journey. By sequentially delivering the right provocative 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 sales reps can have the right conversations at each of the following stages of the buyer’s journey: Ideas, Exploration and Evaluation, and Selection.

From Pitch to Purpose: Switch from Product Sales Decks to Value-Based Selling
Research clearly indicates 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 diagnostic, value-led approach, ensuring they have the right content to have the right conversation with the right buyer at the right time. Moving beyond the product pitch means leveraging your technology investments to improve value storytelling, and offer diagnostic assessments and business value quantification to drive purchase decisions and ultimately, more deals won.

To learn more about the CLOSE methodology or schedule an assessment to gauge where your sellers and marketers are in transforming your sales practices from pitch to purpose, contact us.

Tom “The ROI Guy” Pisello is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of the book Evolved Selling™: Optimizing Sales Enablement in the Age of Frugalnomics. He joined the Mediafly team in 2018 through the acquisition of the company he founded and led, Alinean Inc. In his role as Mediafly’s Chief Evangelist, Tom is responsible for developing new practices for sellers and marketers to communicate and quantify business value to increasingly frugal buyers. He also leads Mediafly’s Advisory Services group in helping companies evolve their selling practices from transactional to value-led. Outside of the office, he is the proud father of two daughters.

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