The concept of value-added selling has been a popular one for a number of years. In fact, I have lots of friends who claim that they are the inventors of the concept known as value-added selling. I guess that's kind of like lots of people who claim to have invented the Internet!
The real issue, though, is that in today's market place where so many products and services are viewed as a commodity, the ability to add value to your product or service is an absolute necessity. There is no doubt that in the absence of value-added components virtually any product or service can be driven down to the most bottom line - price. The problem? When you are only selling price you'll never be able to sell any degree of high margin sales and that is where profitability, long term growth and sales success resides.
Let's take a look at 10 ways that you can add value to your product or service no matter what it is you sell. Lots of times people argue with me by saying you don't understand, my product is different, or my service is different. The truth is that everything can have value-added. So let's go ahead and take a look at 10 specific ways that you can do it.
1.Providing expert advice and a tremendously high level of professionalism. Lots of consulting organizations, accounting firms and even medical professionals are paid a tidy sum for the level of advice that they provide. However, for you as a sales professional, in order for you to be able to provide value, what you need to do is to understand that you have to provide a level of advice that is significantly higher, more sophisticated and a lot more valuable than that of your competition. What this means is a higher level of sophistication, wisdom and understanding about what it is that you do.
2.Bundling and packaging. I'm not only talking here about the way your product or service actually looks, I'm also talking about being able to put together desirable packages, purchasing levels and a series of added benefits that are significant in value and are, themselves, a whole lot more valuable than simply the product is by itself.
3.Service levels. It is possible for you to differentiate yourself not only by providing a higher level of service but by adding different levels of service based upon someone's size, frequency or amount of purchase. For example, you may want to have gold or platinum or silver levels of service that people qualify for, are willing to pay for, and receive when they do business with you.
4.Frequent buyer programs. This is tied into the concept that the more someone buys from you the more valuable service, pricing, benefits and related items they receive. It is somewhat like frequent flyer miles with an airline. I know people who actually fly thousands of miles out of their way to stay on one particular airline only because they want to build up the miles!
5.Transition and education. As new customers come on stream with your organization you may want to provide action or transition teams to help them to be better able to utilize the products or services that you sell them. By the same token, the more education they have related to those products or services the more capable they'll be at utilizing them.
6.Recognition and reward levels. This is somewhat different from frequent buyer programs in that with this particular concept behind value-added you actually provide recognition to clients or customers based upon their ability to utilize your product or service, maximize its potential, buy certain levels from you, etc. What this means is that they themselves are recognized for being outstanding customers. Several years ago we included a Hall of Fame in our newsletter and we had lots of clients very interested in appearing and becoming a part of our Hall of Fame. It's a fantastic way to utilize good relationships and good will.
7.Qualitative preference. Based upon someone's level of purchase, involvement or interaction, you provide higher quality of products, perhaps a more sophisticated level of service, dedicated personnel, dedicated phone lines, fax lines, or the like, that gives them a greater opportunity to be treated better than the run of the mill customer happens to be. You may even be able to use this for introductory customers as a value-added component.
8.Dedicated personnel. This works particularly well if you have a technical product or service or one that requires support. It is not difficult to understand that the more someone is familiar with another person's account, products, machinery, equipment or way of doing business, it is far easier to do business with that organization. In this scenario, you simply assign dedicated account people to handle your customer's accounts personally.
9.Speed of service or delivery. One of the ways to differentiate yourself is to guarantee some sort of on time or faster delivery. It is very well known and accepted that on time delivery is a key component for charging full or maximum pricing. It is also a component as it relates to providing value-added services and products.
10.Insider information. This is very common when people are selling information as it relates to stocks, bonds, financial information or anything related to information or time specific data. Utilizing this process you may want to consider a regular newsletter (electronic or printed) that updates customers on a regular basis as it relates to very key and important information that they have to have.
These 10 ways to add value can all be applied to you in your day-to-day sales activity. There is little doubt that it requires creativity, innovation and a willingness to out-work your competition. But the real sad truth is that if you continue to sell the way you always have, price will continue to rule and I guarantee you that you'll have a competitor that will take one or several of these 10 ideas and put them into place. Your challenge? Do it before they do it! As the famous confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest once said following a battle, "I won because I got there firstest with the mostest!" You need to do the same thing.