This may be the most important concept to understand in order to succeed in selling. Value is a moving target.
Value is never the same from one buyer to another. Values change even in the same buyer because value is inherently circumstantial. What’s more, value is something we can never make assumptions about.
When sellers try to shortcut needs assessment, they pitch on value that they have made assumptions about. They treat value as if it is a generic quality, a one-size-fits-every-buyer premise.
No matter how good your marketing materials may be, there is no personalized value in them. No matter what your product is intended to do, there is no value in the product alone. No matter how enthusiastic your buyers have been about your product in the past, there is no guarantee they will value your product in the future.
If you continue to sell based on assumptions about value, you will eventually lose a customer. It happens when we become complacent as sellers. We found what they once valued, and we continue to sell with that particular value in mind.
We forget that what people value changes constantly. What we value is influenced by the situation we find ourselves in at any given moment. A buyer who once valued top quality may later value fast shipping because of some conditions that changed inside their own company.
The seller who continues to push superior quality will lose to the seller who offers faster shipping. The only way to avoid this is by staying on top of what each buyer values each time you do business with each one of them.
Similarly, value is never generic. In fact, buyers may be offended if you make assumptions about what they value. No one wants to hear that they’re just like everybody else and should, therefore, value the same thing. Even if the buyers in your category all have similar preferences, the truth is each one has a different hierarchy of value.
On top of that, the reason behind the value is different for each of us. The underlying motivation is important for the seller to know and understand. Two similar buyers, for example, may value a particular feature of your product. Perhaps you are the only company offering this feature. You may be tempted to continually represent this feature as the reason buyers should choose to buy from you.
That would be a mistake. Your buyers have a reason for appreciating this feature. Someone else could offer an entirely different feature that satisfies the same motivation for some of your buyers. If you’re not talking about that underlying motivation, you could lose a customer.
It’s worth the little bit of extra time to talk with your customers and find out what they value, how much they value it, and why they value it. It’s worth the additional time to check back frequently and make sure what they valued before is what they still value. Sellers who neglect to tend to values in this way often find themselves kicked to the curb with no idea what went wrong.
Conversely, sellers who do stay attuned to their buyers by understanding changing needs and new priorities will enjoy long-term partnerships and superior loyalty from their buyers. Why let just a few questions stand between you and that long-term success with every buyer?