Start thinking about selling value

Apart from making contacts—that is, getting people to whom you can sell—the most difficult thing that salespeople have to handle is differentiation: why should customers buy from you rather than anyone else and how do you prove that the price being asked is fair? Both of these questions boil down to a common theme uniting a number of great ideas, all united round the subject of selling value.

Here is a simple definition of value—the market value of a product is what the market is willing to pay for it the next time a sale is made. How much, for example, is your house worth? You can hazard a fairly reliable guess by looking at what a similar house went for recently; but you will never really know unless you accept an offer from someone to buy it. At that point you know exactly the market value of your house. The following day its market value could be more or less, and so it goes on.

Here is the value concept being coached into a new assistant by an old and wily optician. He explains that when the customer asks how much the new glasses will be, you tell them the price: ‘Fifty pounds.’ If they don’t wince, you say, ‘Per lens.’ If they still don’t wince, you add, ‘Plus the frames.’