A guide to value selling (with principles and benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Sales and marketing professionals use a variety of techniques for promoting and selling products. One such technique is value selling, which focuses on the quality and benefits of a product. If you work in marketing or sales, then understanding this approach and its principles can be very useful. In this article, we explain what value selling means, discuss its main principles and list its major benefits.

What is value selling?

Value selling is a technique for promoting and selling products which focuses primarily on their quality, benefits, utility, features or even their tendency to appreciate in value. Salespeople may employ such an approach when competitor products are cheaper, which means that trying to persuade consumers based on price isn't likely to work. It's therefore a good approach for companies that sell products with a focus on quality or for specifically targetting consumers who value quality above saving money on purchases.

Naturally, there are some types of products which are better suited for this method. For example, value-based selling can be a great approach for selling computers and hardware to customers, as the salesperson can focus on the build quality, technology and capabilities of the product to encourage potential customers to make a purchase. Conversely, trying to sell something based on its value may be less effective for disposable goods.

Related: 6 ways to sell products (with tips for your sales pitch)

6 principles of value-based selling

The practice of value-based selling and marketing has some principles which allow salespeople and marketers to promote a product more effectively. Here are some principles and best practices which can be useful for selling the value of a product:

1. Prepare

Effective preparation is one of the primary requirements for effectively selling products based on their value. Being prepared means being very familiar with the product, its features and its production process. For salespeople who sell to large corporate clients, researching these clients, their needs and business activities is another essential aspect of being prepared. In other scenarios, any lead profiles and information in the company's customer relationship management (CRM) system can also be useful.

2. Focus on solving a problem

A key contributor to conveying the value of a product is convincing potential customers of its potential to solve their problems. Doing so requires some interaction with consumers to determine why they're shopping for the item. A salesperson can chat with a consumer about what they're looking for and what they hope to do with the product. Marketers can use customer surveys and polls to identify consumer purchasing behaviour and integrate their findings into marketing materials. Good knowledge of the product and its capabilities, in addition to those of competitors, are essential for effectively conveying the product's merits.

This requires the salesperson to be creative and able to use critical thinking. Once they know what the problem is, the primary task becomes conveying how the product they're trying to sell is the ideal solution. Doing so effectively can cause potential customers to disregard the cost of the product because they believe it's worth it.

Related: Sales technique: definition and types of sales techniques

3. Be friendly

When a consumer interacts with a company, they may not choose their products over competitors solely based on the merits of the product itself. Their entire experience with the company and its personnel is a key part of their overall impression of the company, and this impression can affect their perception of the product and its quality. This is why friendliness among salespeople is often crucial for selling products based on their value.

A consumer who encounters a salesperson who's friendly and courteous may conclude that the company puts time and effort into ensuring their staff are professional and well-trained. This can cause them to infer that the company puts equal time and effort into the quality of its products. Additionally, friendly staff can help potential customers feel more relaxed, allowing them to get more insights into what that individual is looking for and then suggest their products as the solution.

Related: Interpersonal skills: definition and examples

4. Cite previous success

A key element of a potential customer's decision is whether they believe the product is actually going to function as intended. This is why companies might offer free trials or returns with their products to reassure consumers. A way of doing this for salespeople is to speak about previous success with the product.

For instance, a salesperson may encounter someone looking for a product to solve a specific problem. The salesperson might then state that they had a customer recently with the same issue who managed to overcome it with a particular product. This allows the salesperson to direct the customer's attention to the product in question and tell them more about its value. If the product has received a lot of positive feedback and reviews, this is also something worth mentioning to a customer who's wondering about its ability to satisfy their needs.

Related: Positive review response examples (plus how to use them)

5. Facilitate the buying process

For selling a value-based product, a good approach is to act as a facilitator for the buying process. The buying process involves multiple steps for the customer, and most of it simply involves making a decision. It's therefore good practice to behave more like a consultant than a salesperson, whereby the salesperson asks questions, makes suggestions, gives information and tries to adapt to the needs of the potential customer. Doing so requires salespeople to be able to employ active listening and quickly adapt their approach to meet the demands of potential buyers.

For the sales team as a whole and their processes, this also means ensuring that the buying process is simple and quick, allowing customers to quickly conclude their business once they've made their decision. The work of salespeople is essential for this to function effectively and further contributes to the customer's positive impression of the company.

6. Avoid direct comparisons

Consumers may compare multiple options when considering a purchase. They may have already visited other companies to assess their products and could be aware of their relative merits. For salespeople and marketers, it's often best practice to avoid directly making comparisons to competitors. It's normal to acknowledge them if a customer brings up the subject, but then it's better to change the subject to focus solely on their own company's product. To do this, salespeople can focus on absolute qualities, rather than relative ones. This approach separates their products from all competitors.

For example, a salesperson is trying to sell a laptop. A potential customer asks about the processors and comments that a competitor uses faster ones in a similarly-priced laptop. The salesperson might start listing other components in their laptop which are better than that competitor's. The issue with this approach is that the salesperson implicitly acknowledges the superiority of that initial component and doesn't deal with all other competitors. Instead, they might talk about how their optimisation offers the best real-world performance on the market based on certain benchmarks, effectively positioning their product as the best and avoiding one-on-one comparisons.

Related: What is product differentiation? Types and examples

Benefits of value-based selling

Here are some of the benefits that a value-based approach to selling can bring:

Less negotiation

In sales scenarios where negotiation over pricing is possible, adopting a value-based approach may decrease the chances of the buyer trying to negotiate a lower price. This is because the main focus of the salespeople has been the product's value. When salespeople effectively convey the benefits and features of their products, a potential buyer may be more likely to view the initial price as fair.

Related: How to negotiate price: negotiation tips for salespeople

Brand prestige

A brand which focuses its sales efforts on value may use this and other activities to boost the perceived quality and prestige of both its products and the brand itself. It might even become standard practice for salespeople at these brands to treat pricing as something incidental. This means that the primary focus of consumers is going to be on how desirable the products are.

Related: What are unique selling points and how to work them out

More sales

Despite avoiding discussions about pricing, value-based sales techniques can lead to an increase in sales. When pricing isn't a primary factor, a customer is less likely to shop around for alternatives or wait for a sale. Instead, the value they perceive in the product can encourage them to make an immediate purchase decision because they want fast access to its features and benefits.

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