What Value Do You Offer Customers?

By Heather Baldwin

As a sales manager, how much time do you spend coaching your reps on value expression? If you’re like the majority of managers, your answer is none – which is why the majority of companies have closing percentages in the 15% to 20% range, says Bill Caskey, president of Indianapolis -based Caskey Achievement Strategies, a company that helps clients recognize their authentic value and gives them the skills to communicate that value to the world (www.caskeytraining.com). “All companies struggle with how to express the value they bring to their customers in terms those customers can understand,” says Caskey. The reason is that managers themselves usually don’t understand their value and aren’t working with reps on how to articulate it.

Here’s an example. One of Caskey’s clients is a company that sells medical billing services. The service eliminates the long wait for payments from insurance companies and the problem of nonpayment, in addition to offering other real bottom-line benefits for doctors. Yet the reps selling the service have been pushing its technical features, such as how it can process claims in 15 minutes.

“Doctors don’t care about that!” exclaims Caskey. “They want to know if it can help them make more money.” Reps need to be talking in terms of the additional money the doctors can make, the reduced administrative costs and the additional doctors the practice could hire if they used the billing services. When they do that, says Caskey, doctors will understand the value and sales will increase.

Or consider Caskey’s own company. If Caskey were to sell from his perspective without articulating his value, he would tell prospects that Caskey Achievement Strategies offers great sales training in three-day seminars, on the Web and through personalized coaching with great trainers. Boring! Sounds like every other sales trainer out there, right? Moreover, it doesn’t tell the client how Caskey can help him.

So instead Caskey articulates his value to prospects by explaining, “When companies aren’t closing the number of sales they need to close and are feeling pressure to meet targets, people bring us in to increase their sales.” Aha! Prospects can see instantly how Caskey can add value to their organizations and whether they have a need for his services or not.

“Companies who spend time understanding the value they bring and learning how to express it in a way customers can understand will close more sales,” Caskey asserts. The way you do that, he adds, is by addressing problems solved and opportunities unexploited. Managers can start with these three steps.

1. Make a list of all the problems you solve for customers. It should be easy to come up with 10 to 15 things, says Caskey. If it isn’t easy, get on the phone with customers and ask them what problems you have solved for them – and then write them down.

2. Craft your value message around those problems, not the solution to the problems.

3. Use stories that explain what life was like for your customers, how they implemented your solution and what their life is like today. Stick with the facts. Too many salespeople, says Caskey, tell stories about how they were the knight who rode in on the white horse, saved the day and now are their customers’ hero. But that’s not the way to tell stories that resonate with prospects. Being straightforward and factual will gain you far more traction.

Most people in sales view it as a numbers game. Their philosophy assumes a certain closing percentage, thus the more people you contact the more sales you’ll close. Instead, think of it as a value game, suggests Caskey. The better you can express your value, the more sales you’ll close. As a sales manager, your job is to help your reps express their value in terms to which customers can relate. When you do that, he says, sales will climb.