Business-to-business buyers are influenced by your overall philosophy or approach much more than they are by the “parts and pieces” details of your actual products or services. Strategic selling involves continually communicating your overall philosophy, positioning or selling approach throughout your selling process and ongoing support efforts.
One of the most effective ways to increase your customer focus and language is to better understand and utilize the core values or driving philosophies of why buyers buy. These terms are referred to as the core values of buying because they are the central themes, philosophies or driving justification of why a buyer likes you over all other alternatives.
Whether you are buying for your personal consumption or for your company there are only four reasons, or core values, as to why you would select a specific vendor from a field of competitors.
Why did you choose that vendor? You chose them because:
#1 – they did more than anyone else to lower your risk
#2 – You chose them because they did more than anyone else to make your life or work easier
#3 - You chose them because they did more than anyone else did either to lower your total costs or to increase your
#4 - The final core value, you chose them because they did more than anyone else to increase your competitive advantage
That is it! Those are the four overall reasons, or core values, why all buying decisions are made. All other buying reasons from customers fit into or will be a sub-set of these four core drivers of buying behavior.
These core values are such powerful selling terms because they parallel the thinking and reasoning of your buyers. In addition, these four core values are just not terms utilized by most sales people. How exciting is it to have selling language that is both customer focused and not being used by your competitors!?
“Lower My Risk”
Are you the “least risk” alternative for your customers? Of the entire core values, “risk” is the strongest and most influential driver of customer behavior.
How much risk does a customer take buying from you compared to any of your other competitors?
Risk, or really “risk avoidance,” is the most important component of “branding.” Why are you so loyal to specific brands when buying? Well branding is really just predictability. The stronger your brand the more predictable I expect my experiences will be with that brand.
If Apple announced a new line of television sets, would you immediately have a set of expectations of what their new TV’s would have and do? Look what would happen to your opinion of the Apple brand if their new TV product line were not innovative, simple to use, more advanced and expensive.
Branding is the existence of already defined or clarified expectations by our customers. How much risk would you feel you were taking as a buyer if you perceived Apple’s new TV line as not being advanced or innovative? Do you think you would still feel Apple was the lowest risk choice for you if these new TV’s did not fulfill your pre-conceived branding expectations from Apple?
Why would I want to buy from you? If you manufacture or distribute products you might communicate your lower risk due to your increased inventory or manufacturing capacity (a lower risk of being out of stock); your multiple locations; accelerated delivery schedules; or special last minute delivery options (a lower risk of running out of product). If you sell services or support you might talk about the greater training, experience or accreditations of your service technicians (a lower risk of getting someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing).
How much risk are your buyers taking when they decide to do business with you compared to all of their other alternatives? What can you and your teams do to lower your perceived risk in the market and increase the predictability of your brand in your buyer’s eyes?
“Make My Life/Work Easier”
A second buying core value is based on you doing more than anyone else to make my life or work easier. How much of a hassle is it to do business with you? Are any of your competitors easier to work with when compared to you?
Look at the car rental market. Even though all the major car rental companies offer the same brands and models of cars to rent, why is Hertz successful at charging more than any of their competitors?
When I rent from Hertz I know I am going to pay more but I also have greater expectations of them doing more to make my rental and travel experience less hassled. I expect them to be running more shuttle busses than their competition, to get in and out of the airport faster, to expect fewer hassles, and to receive faster solutions when there is a problem or a screw-up. As one of their target customers, the frequent business renter, I am happy to pay a higher price to insure both a lower risk and less hassled experience.
Why would I want to buy from you?
You can talk about how you make your “business-to-business” customers lives and work easier due to your assigned account support team (offering more consistent support), having your order desk staffed more hours (easier to place an order whenever it’s convenient to you), having a more complete website (easier to search out products, pricing and questions), or by having faster problem-resolution response times (easier to get your problems fixed faster and with less interruptions).
What can you do to make it easier for your buyers to do business with you compared to your competitors? Moreover, what can you do to improve the predictability of your buyer’s experiences with you, your company, and your products or services?
“Lower My Costs or Increase My Profitability”
A third buying core value is based on you doing more than anyone else either to lower my total costs or to increase my profitability.
We are not just talking about if you have a lower quoted price or not. You can sell something at a higher price yet still be a lower total cost when you include and evaluate all of the costs and savings associated with your buyer’s time, usage, hassles, and possible disruptions to their business.
Michelin tires are some of the most expensive car tires sold when you only look at their “per tire” price. However, they can be considered some of the lowest total cost tires when you also consider they can be safely driven almost twice the distance of other tires. There is a saying used by strategic sales people to communicate this lower total cost philosophy… “You can buy lowest price in our industry and you can buy lowest total cost. But I’ve not seen any industry including ours where you can get both from the same vendor!” Would that message help strategically position your higher prices, but lower total costs of the products you sell?
Why would I want to buy from you? What do you do or provide as a manufacturer, distributor or services provider, to show all the extras and added value savings or cost reductions possible with your solution compared to your competitors?
How strong are your sales team’s financial justification skills? Are all members of your sales team able to sit down with their financial buyers and prove all of the savings and revenue increases they can generate compared to your competition? Is there anything else you can be doing to improve your ability to financially justify your higher prices but lower total costs to your buyers?
“Increase My Competitive Advantage”
The fourth and final buying core value centers on you doing more than anyone else to increase your buyer’s competitive advantage.
You can communicate your ability to increase your customer’s competitive advantage due to your offers of: free use of your application experts (showing them how to lower their operating costs or safely reduce their inventory levels making their prices more competitive); your ability to propose a more durable product (to increase the durability of your customer’s products, increasing their competitive edge); or your ability to help them open new markets for their products.
Is there anything you do for your customers, or could do in the future, that could help them increase their competitive advantage over their competitors if they bought from you?
How to Use the Four Core Values in Your Selling Efforts
The four core values define the major philosophical, emotional, or strategic reasons buyers buy. The power of these four values to increase your selling success is based on three realities.
The first reality is the four core values talk to the driving justification and motivation of why buyers buy. Incorporating these four core values into your daily selling efforts means your selling language will better parallel the thinking and reasoning of your buyers.
The second reality of the four core values is that these are not common terms utilized by sales people. Most reps are afraid to use such realistic terms as “risk” or “competitive advantage” fearing their buyers would perceive what they were saying as negative selling terms.
However, those terms drive buyer’s decisions to buy. Effectively using those terms can help you project your concerns for the realities and challenges your buyers are facing with their buying decision.
The third reality of why the core values are so valuable to your selling efforts is these terms of lowering my risk; making my life or work easier; increasing my profitability or lowering my total costs; or increasing my competitive advantage; are all “hot button” terms to your buyers. I constantly have sales people telling me how their customers have interrupted them in the middle of their presentations by saying things like… “What do you mean you can lower my risk?” or “Walk me through exactly how you can prove you’re a lower total cost to me even though you’re quoting a higher price?”
Testing the Four Core Values for Yourself
Do you think these four core values can work for you and your sales team? All you have to do to validate or disprove the effectiveness of these core values is for you and your sales team to start using them and see if you notice any difference in the way your customers respond.
Decide next week to look for ways to drop in at least one of these four core value terms into every customer sales call or conversation. See if you notice a stronger reaction or interest from your buyer.
Can You Do More To Utilize The “Four Core Values” Of Buying On Your Next Sales Call?
How are you increasing your competitive advantage and ability to communicate your uniqueness and value? The “four core values” of buying can significantly increase your customer focus and ability to better relate to your buyers and their needs.
We know you’re good, now the question is, are you good enough and customer focused enough to consistently utilize these “four core values of buying” in your daily selling efforts?