Value selling: your guide to winning deals in any economy

What is value selling?

Picture this: You’re sitting across the dinner table from a toddler. And sitting on the table between you and that toddler is a plate of green vegetables the toddler has never tasted before. Your job is to “sell” those vegetables to the toddler. Where do you begin?

If you tell her that the vegetables are green and yummy, she won’t bite. Tell her the vegetables are full of vitamins A, C, and K, and you won’t make much progress either. Those things don’t matter to the toddler. They’re just features. 

But what happens when you tell her what the vegetables can do for her?

Spinach will make you big and strong, like Thor.
Broccoli will make you smart, like Iron Man.
Kale will make you powerful, like the Hulk.

Voila! Suddenly, you’ve piqued her interest. 

That’s value selling. Instead of selling a product, you’ve sold a solution. You effectively communicated what your offering can do to benefit the toddler. And she buys it.

Value Selling Associates

What top-performing salespeople do differently is focus on helping prospects understand the value gained from the product or service through each customer interaction.

Why adopt a value selling approach?

B2B buyers, in a sense, are no different than toddlers. Humans of any age are inherently benefit-oriented. We’re motivated to make decisions based on how those decisions will positively impact us. To make a confident purchase decision, we need to know we are making worthwhile investments with our time and money. 

But somewhere along the way, sales organizations lost sight of this. They flipped to a feature selling model, and selling became less about the buyer and their success and more about the product.

That is why 40-60% of qualified pipeline deals end in no decision. Today’s buyers don’t get the information they need from sellers to make clear and concise purchase decisions, so they avoid risk and do nothing instead.

Can you afford to lose up to 60% of deals to no decision — on top of any deals lost to competitors? Probably not. To maintain growth and stay competitive, adopt a value selling approach. That is especially necessary today when sales organizations are up against new challenges, including:

Digital selling

Remote work is here to stay. Even if you’ve decided to bring your sellers back to the office, most of their customers are still working from home. What does that mean for your sellers?

It’s harder to capture buyers’ attention and keep it. Sales organizations must work smarter to captivate a once-in-person audience over the phone or via web conference. 

Static PowerPoint presentations touting company details, executive bios, and product specs don’t work. Today’s remote buyers expect more. They crave compelling, interactive sales engagements that help them differentiate your product or service from the competition.

Economic uncertainty

Recession or not, the executive outlook on the future is bleak, with 68% of business leaders expecting the economy to worsen.

As finance leaders look to cut costs, do more with less, and consolidate vendors, it becomes increasingly difficult for buyers to substantiate already complex B2B purchases. 

How can you help buyers justify and prioritize purchasing your product or service? Your sellers must be able to communicate benefits with data buyers can use to build a business case. 

A 2022 Gartner survey revealed that B2B buyers now rank value assessments as the most critical content to making a final purchase decision.

Value Selling

87% of high-growth companies take a value-based approach to sales.

How to successfully transition your sales team to value selling

Today’s buyers are more disengaged, frugal, and skeptical than ever. They don’t care when you were founded, how many customers you have, or what product features you most recently launched. They want to know exactly how you can help them solve their specific business challenges and the bottom-line impact you can deliver. 

In this section, we’ll outline four steps required to take your sales organization from a traditional sales pitch to a purposeful value selling experience to win more deals, regardless of the economic climate.

Step 1: Change your sales story

Your buyers have a lot of choices. It’s important to communicate how your solution is unique. Unfortunately, when many organizations attempt to articulate the differentiating value of their solutions, they start with a solution-first approach rather than a challenge-first approach. 

In fact, according to Forrester, a meager 10% of buyers report sales reps are value-focused, with most still using an ineffective product pitch.

The result is a Value Gap — a divide between buyer expectations and a traditional sales and marketing approach. The Value Gap can critically hinder revenue growth with more stalled deals, longer sales cycles, and increased discounting. 

To address this challenge, you must evolve the sales experience from a product pitch to a value-based sales conversation. You can use a simple conversation guide to map this evolution and immediately improve your value articulation and sales effectiveness.


Step 2: Align your sales & marketing content

If you want your sellers to successfully speak to the unique value of your product or service, you need to design your marketing and sales content to support a challenge-based approach. Content used throughout the customer journey should prioritize your buyer, their challenges, and the cost of inaction. This impactful value-based messaging, insights, and justification can be leveraged to fuel provocative and engaging sales conversations and as value-added follow-up content. 

Consider how and when sellers present the content as well. To ensure your sales reps leverage your content at the right time and in the appropriate context, think about deploying an AI-enabled sales enablement platform that incorporates content management and interactive presentation capabilities. Doing so ensures your revenue team can:

  • Manage, distribute, and search all sales and marketing content such as video, PowerPoint, pdf, documents, etc. in a single location
  • Access, present, and share up-to-date marketing and sales content anytime, anywhere — online or offline
  • Track content presented by sellers and consumed by prospects
  • Optimize existing content and plan new content based on usage and consumption data
  • Effortlessly pivot sales conversations to address whatever topics are most important to the buyer
  • Tailor every interaction to the specific needs of your buyer with accurate, relevant, and on-brand content
  • Lead more engaging sales conversations with interactive and dynamic content that grabs and holds your buyer’s attention
  • Visualize data in your content and reports to make it easier for sellers to communicate and prospective buyers to consume

It is harder to captivate prospective buyers over the phone or via web conferencing. But a sales enablement solution can give your sellers the tools they need to make your value proposition heard.

Step 3: Leverage value selling tools across the customer journey

When developing content to support value selling efforts, many companies build spreadsheets to help sellers calculate and communicate return on investment (ROI) or total cost of ownership (TCO). While this is a step in the right direction, it is not the most productive or sustainable solution. Spreadsheets are problematic for many reasons, including high development and maintenance costs, limited version control, and low adoption rates. 

Fortunately, value-based tools can deliver where spreadsheets fail. Easy to use, interactive assessments, including ROI and TCO calculators, can be leveraged across the customer journey to ensure your value proposition is clear and consistent from your buyer’s first interaction with your brand to post-purchase. 

Read more about why spreadsheets fail in our guide here.

Your entire revenue team, including sales, marketing, and customer success, can leverage value selling tools to help buyers answer important questions along the increasingly complex journey, thereby accelerating deal cycles and improving win rates. 

Here’s how:

Marketing tools to generate more qualified leads

These tools, deployed as self-service diagnostic assessments on your website, help buyers answer the question “why change?”.

Visitors enter limited profile information, complete a discovery worksheet, and receive a report containing a capability and maturity framework, relevant use cases, and an improvement roadmap. 

The exercise illuminates the prospect’s pain points and piques their interest in how your product or service can solve those specific problems. 

It helps your marketing team drive more qualified leads and allows sellers to engage earlier in the buying process with insights to transform from sales rep to trusted advisor.

Sales tools to accelerate sales cycles

Sellers can leverage business value tools throughout the exploration and evaluation stages of the customer journey to help prospects answer “why now?”.

B2B buyers struggle to justify purchases in an economic downturn. An ROI calculator can help your sellers quantify what the buyer will gain from purchasing your product or service. 

Will they increase revenue? Will they save money? Aligning proposed solutions to a buyer’s objectives or challenges, quantifying potential savings or business value benefits, and tallying estimated ROI make it easier for buyers to take proposals up the chain and garner stakeholder approval. 

Meanwhile, TCO tools give sales reps a leg up in competitive deals. When you provide a visual cost-benefit analysis of your product or service side-by-side with your competitors during the selection process, buyers can more easily answer “why you?”. TCO calculators enable sellers to quantify total cost and other advantages and prove outcomes are achievable with relevant success stories and third-party validation.

Customer success tools to prove realized value

Realized value calculators should be utilized post-sale to help buyers answer the question “why renew?”. These tools enable customer success and account management teams to prove realized value from using your product or service. They can also use the proof points and projections uncovered by the calculators to show the value of purchasing more licenses or additional solutions, adding value to quarterly or annual EBRs and increasing upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Value selling helps prospective buyers answer important questions on their journey to arrive at purchase decisions faster

Step 4: Measure your success & optimize accordingly

Understanding how your value selling tools impact your sales pipeline and execution at every stage of the customer journey can help you maximize the success of your value program and drive more revenue. Select a value selling platform that allows you to:

  • See usage across all tools, by individual deals, teams, reps, regions, industries, and more
  • Know what industries, roles, value drivers, and solutions see the highest ROI
  • Know what reps are most successful using value selling tools so you can replicate their approach
  • Easily identify at-risk opportunities where value selling tools have not been leveraged
  • Assess tool performance at the field level to improve over time
  • Measure win rate and ACV when using value selling tools versus not 

Mediafly, for example, combines its Value360 value selling solution with a robust revenue intelligence engine to help revenue teams maximize impact, and adjust and improve their value programs over time.

Key takeaways

Research indicates better differentiation and improved competitive win rates rely on advancing from a traditional product pitch to value selling. 

Ensure your marketers, sellers, and customer success managers can provide a more diagnostic, value-based experience with the right content and tools to fuel compelling and consultative discussions and facilitate decision-making at every step of the customer journey. As a result, you’ll increase demand, accelerate purchase decisions, win more deals, and boost customer loyalty and satisfaction.

Ready to get started? Download our free value selling checklist to boost your win rate in 6 easy steps or contact us to speak to a value expert.