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Finding the Missing Link in Your Pitch: Your Value


Knowing the value you bring to your customer is crucial in properly qualifying your prospects. And yet this value is far too often misunderstood by sales professionals at every level of an organization.

It’s a fatal flaw — far too many salespeople get it wrong and are stuck with a missing link in their sales chain. It’s a flaw they don’t recover from.

When qualifying prospects or customers, you must clearly define the difference between where they are today and where they want to be. Your value is the level of improvement you bring to their organization. You must uncover this in the sales conversation to justify their investment in your product or service.  

It’s not enough for you or your sellers to just talk about ROI of what’s being sold. Show meaning behind that return — meaning that is measurable and tangible. It’s what matters to the customer.

Do this and you monetize both the problem and the solution. That is where your value is truly located and felt by your prospects and customers. As a result, not only does it translate into better reception and less pushback on price, you get deeper buy-in on what you’re selling, because they can now see value where they used to just see an expense.

Here are four ways you can better define value:

1. Measure wasted time in units other than time.

Poor use of time isn’t just measured by lost minutes, hours, or days; it is measured also by what you could have otherwise spent it on. Since that is a net loss (you can’t earn back lost time), people tend to not want to talk about it too much. But if you are selling a time-saving product or service, you must press the issue. Ask your prospect if they’ve ever considered what the total cost is to their business of having wasted time, slowly accumulating like drops of water in a bucket.

Consider the approach of a client of mine that sells scheduling software to medical clinics. They invite their prospects to consider the full cost of cancelled appointments beyond just the cost of lost revenue. For example: expensive equipment has to be disposed of or re-cleaned, customer-service scores are affected, and missed appointments have to be rescheduled. Here, the problem of wasted time quickly turned into tens of thousands of dollars lost every month. The solution (software, in this case) was sold as an investment that’s a fraction of that overall cost. In manufacturing, smart sellers use this approach when discussing equipment that’s not operating at full capacity. They ask questions designed to underline a meaningful problem to the customer. For example: As the hours tick by and the machines are not producing at 100% output, what’s the cost of all that wasted time?

2. Define the complete cost of overtime.

Similar to wasted time, you can also show for clients that incur a lot of overtime that this translates into something more than just extra hours. First, ask the easy question: What does all that overtime cost you in wages? That’s a resource that’s costing you something measurable. Next, ask what the buyer thinks a reasonable overtime amount should be. The difference between what the overtime is, and what company executives want it to be is what they value — and will pay to fix it. Finally, get them to quantify what overtime costs them in terms of increased stress, decreased employee retention, and missed opportunities. Are they losing too many employees due to their working conditions? If so, what’s the cost to replace and train them?

3. Illustrate production breakdowns as losses.

If your prospect deals with frequent, unscheduled breakdowns on the company’s production line or service chain, don’t just settle on asking questions about why those breakdowns occur and how often. Ask your prospect to calculate breakdowns cost in terms of repairs, lost productivity, and lost production. I have a client in the manufacturing sector that correctly understood the full cost of lost sales each time the company had an unscheduled shutdown of production on its line. It was moving towards $1 million a year. During a conversation with a sales rep, company executives figured out that by switching to a new delivery system for their critical-equipment maintenance supplies, they could almost eliminate unscheduled breakdowns. Even though the new supplier’s annual price was more than double what they paid before, it also gave them more than 10 times return on investment — just a fraction of what it would otherwise cost in lost sales.

4. Express the multiplier effect in workplace stress.

This is a commonly overlooked place to look for value. Workplace stress tends to be thought of as an occupational hazard rather than a preventable problem. Get your prospects to look at its net cost on their operation. Ask: “How much would you say that stress translates in dollar figures on your operation in terms of sick leave, turnover, and lost productivity?” Problems only become meaningful when we can measure them in units that matter to us. Include a follow-up question with qualifiers, such as “What should it be, or what would you like it to be?” Their answer to the second question is where you value becomes evident.


As you can see, fixing the fatal flaw in defining value requires the customer to fully define all the costs associated with the problem, as well as to make a statement on what value an improvement will create. By asking what should it be, you monetize the value that customers expect to receive from you. By doing this, you help them build the justification for your price.

When qualifying prospects or customers, you must clearly define the difference between where they are today and where they want to be.”

Colleen Francis | Owner, Engage Selling Solutions

Learn More

How to Craft the Perfect Sales Pitch By Annie Simms,
Account Executive, Salesforce
The Simple Client Meeting Rules Every Salesperson Should Follow By Laura Stack,
President and CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.



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