Value creation is the bedrock of business. It’s what sets you apart from the competition, secures long-term customers, and brings distinct meaning to your brand and your solution.
Without it, your unique offering will be rendered just another commodity in the eyes of your target market.
Value creation is an essential base to support a profitable and lasting business. Without it, the cracks will soon begin to appear that will threaten both customer retention and your bottom line.
Yet many hyper-growth and scaling companies still tend to overlook the importance of value creation. Instead, they prioritize rapid acquisition to meet sales targets and maintain growth velocity. This is a short-term mentality and it fails to recognize the importance of quality sales and customer loyalty.
Finding the Balance
At a recent talk for SaaStock London, I discussed the challenge of achieving continued growth while still providing genuine value to our prospects and customers. It’s not easy to strike this balance. As your customer numbers grow, so too does the impact of churn on your bottom line. So while growth is important, value creation is critical for the longevity of your business.
Finding the Right Customers
So how can you strike this balance and prevent churn? This involves examining your sales processes at all stages of the customer life-cycle, starting with the top of your pipeline.
Assuming your solution is good, there are going to be a lot of good potential customers out there that have the right strategic fit. But there is always a wrong customer for your business model too.
Filtering out mismatched prospects from the offset is key.
These leads are unlikely to become long-term customers or provide the brand advocacy to attract more sales. They actually carry the potential to damage your reputation. You need to find customers that you can count on so you can effectively forecast revenue.
Empowering your sales team to let go of ill-fitting leads and prioritize opportunities where they can really bring value is the first step to foster long-term relationships that will generate sustainable and profitable revenue for your business.
Here are some key questions to consider to identify opportunities where you can offer genuine value:
- Does my solution really solve the pain points of this potential customer?
- Does this prospect look like other customers I have helped?
- What challenges is my solution addressing most successfully?
- Which companies or industries typically have the best strategic fit?
Finding the Right Sales Team
With the advent of the internet, customers can research your business on their own, so pushing your product doesn’t cut it any more.
You want to generate genuine customer relationships beyond the transactional.
Salespeople need to know how to attract new customers by offering something that represents real value and know how to communicate this value effectively.
This involves building a team of consultative sellers that can establish customer relationships, fueled by confidence and trust.
Salespeople should be four things:
Your ultimate goal should not be a quick win, but a long-term customer relationship.
How to Create Value to Fill the Gap
The foundation of successful selling is not a product push, but rather a value transfer. Only when prospects can truly understand and see the value of your solution and your partnership, will they become long-term customers.
Here are some key strategies to help your team showcase real value - the kind of value that converts the right prospects and fosters long-term customer relationships.
Value creation cannot happen without an understanding of the potential customer and their business.
You need to understand as much about your customer and their industry as possible before you ever reach out to them. This is also the time to investigate and identify possible needs and gaps in advance.
An effective CRM will allow you to have existing customer data at hand to match your prospects against lookalike customers. This will help you to anticipate potential challenges and pain-points more effectively.
Find the Gap
Ask the right questions and actively listen. Open discovery questions allow you to draw out the information that you need and frame how your prospect perceives your solution. Use this time to gain insight into your contact’s individual goals and wider business objectives to position and tailor your value proposition accordingly.
Your role in any sales conversation is to dig deeper and truly understand your prospect’s needs, challenges and aspirations. Active listening is key to achieve this.
One of the biggest mistakes salespeople can make is thinking about their next sentence while a prospect is speaking. Sometimes silence is okay! It allows you to internalize the value your prospect needs and gives your prospect time to process the value you can bring. Sometimes your prospect may not even be aware that they have a pain-point - it’s your job to find it and prove that you can solve it.
Paint a Picture of Success
Your prospect’s need is essentially the gap between what they are doing or experiencing now and where they would like to be. This gap is your opportunity to create value.
Help your customer to visualize their future success by creating insight scenarios that highlight the ‘before and after’ and how your solution will help them to achieve their goals.
Use these stories as a forum to deliver valuable insights and facts that challenge the status quo and emphasis your unique selling points. Michael Harris, author of Insight Selling, writes:
‘Because stories are facts wrapped up in context and delivered with emotion, they are more memorable’.
The aim of these stories is to present the status quo as riskier than embracing change by choosing your solution. They should also help your prospect to visualize and internalize their new found success so they can’t imagine life without it. Work with your client to develop a collaborative vision together and build a success plan to achieve it.
There’s a catch here - you actually have to help them to achieve this once the deal is closed, so be honest about what your prospect can realistically accomplish.
Reposition Price as Investment
You can do this by re-framing price as investment. Your client is not just buying your product - they are investing in your solution, your services, and your partnership. You need to establish yourself as a strategic partner and trusted adviser.
‘Consultative Selling’s critical success factor is its ability to free price from cost and competition by relating price to an investment...in other words, it can be compared to its return instead of to its cost or performance.’
Focus the conversation around ROI and strengthen your case by sharing case studies that demonstrate how similar customers have earned or saved money by investing in your solution.
Trust is integral to converting prospects and nurturing long-lasting customer relationships. You prospect needs to believe that investing in your solution will bring ongoing value and partnership.
No one likes when a salesperson disappears right after the sale. It looks disingenuous.
Maintaining customer relationships is just as important as building them. You don’t just want to convert prospects to customers, you want to build brand champions!
When you close a sale you should use the momentum to propel the relationship forward. Make sure you deliver upon the agreements and the value that you promised.
Satisfied customers who feel valued serve to enhance your reputation and secure long-term business success. And loyal customers who recognize your value are also more likely to invest further in your solutions.
Here are some ways to build trust and brand advocacy amongst your prospects and customers:
- Be proactive about providing value - Don’t wait for your customers to come to you. Every now and then reach out to your prospect or customer with a new suggestion or product update. Share useful resources that are relevant to their industry and goals. It shows that you are going above and beyond to be helpful and add value. Be innovative and build a reputation as someone who proactively brings new ideas to the table. This will encourage your potential and existing customers to value you as a partner.
- Ask for feedback - Make your prospects and customers feel important. They need to know that you value their opinion and ongoing success. Ask for your customer’s perspective and take the feedback on board. Make it a collaborative and consultative process. Feedback provides a valuable opportunity to enhance and streamline your offering. The best businesses are agile and willing to respond to the needs of their customers.
- Be genuine - Above all else, you should sell with integrity and conviction. Take a genuine interest in your customer and how you can make their business and their life better. Be human and let your personality shine through.
Sales shouldn’t be about manipulation. It should be about solving problems and delivering genuine value. Value-creation is the key to customer loyalty and the lifeline of every successful business.