Having rolled out of bed precisely eight minutes earlier, I wasn’t in my best form. I’d checked my calendar in bed and seen a sales call booked in. The person had booked in with little-to-no notice due to my mistake – I’d changed a setting in Acuity Scheduling and not changed it back again.
In retrospect, I should have rescheduled. But fear not! A little cold water splashed on my face and I was at my desk, jumping into Zoom, and ready to talk.
It was a disastrous call. The person wanted me to sell them, performing the sales role that she was used to. She was shocked by my price and expected me to justify it to her.
I wasn’t playing ball. It was a lesson in why we need to communicate value rather than justify our price.
When selling goes south, you are scrambling to explain why what you do is useful, valuable and relevant, which can make you feel defensive, less-than, or downright attacked.
On the flip side, a sales call with a qualified lead who is well placed to get the most out of working with you is a joyful exchange of two like-minded people. (No, I’m not overstating it.)
Indeed, when your sales process works well, your prospective clients and yourself are a mutual admiration society, both excited and inspired by the potential possibilities of working together.
Keys to value
To communicate value, you need to know your service offerings inside-out and backwards.
You can qualify value with:
- Case studies (before & after)
- Press coverage (your own business’s and others from your sector or industry)
- Social proof, though things such as social media
And you can quantify value with:
- Your own feedback surveys and polls
- Research about sector/industry
- Data that illustrates the problems your business seeks to solve
- Data that illustrates the efficacy of the solutions you offer
The job of your marketing is to communicate your value through marketing assets that illustrate and explain, answer common questions and address misconceptions, preconceptions and barriers to purchase. Typically, you communicate the value of your particular service offering through your sales page but every piece of your marketing is another piece of the value puzzle.
Especially when you sell services, you’re selling promises, and promises need words, and not any old convenient word, but words that correctly position your business is the minds of your audience.
Your reputation is bankable
If you frequently find yourself in conversations with people who don’t understand the value of what you do, it’s likely that they’re treating your business as transactional. Transactional businesses are convenient, low priced, and dispensable. Transactional business are focused on the next customer, and the next one, and the one after that.
On the other hand, businesses that take the long view focus instead on building their brand reputation. They’re not trying to offer the most convenient service at the lowest price. They’re confident in knowing that they’re not for everyone and that the customer is not always right.
Instead, they focus on rendering their competitors irrelevant by being different, which is better than being better.
Empathy is absolutely crucial to effectively communicate. As business owners, we need to intimately know the various problems, issues, worries or inconveniences that we’re solving for people. We need to know the ripple effects of these on our prospective client’s lives. And we need to know the cost of not taking action, whether tangible (such as a lack of sales) or intangible (such as low self-confidence).
Don’t make assumptions. Assumptions are expensive. Ask smart questions and listen closely to people. Eavesdrop in social media groups. Listen for what people say and what they don’t say.
Understanding the specific, particular situation of your ideal clients not only helps to create rapport but also ensures that you’re selling to their wants and needs, rather than trying to provoke interest in something they’re disinterested in.
Pre-qualifying your leads
A huge part of communicating your value rather than justifying your price is to pre-qualify your leads. Before you enter into a sales conversation, you should have already determined whether or not the person needs what you’re selling.
Before they book a call with you, you can further qualify them through a questionnaire which asks about their particular situation, what they might have done to solve their problems in the past, and what their best-case scenario would be.
You are not auditioning for the lead in a play called “my fabulous life” on a sales call. You are not for sale. You lead the conversation through questions; your prospective client is doing the majority of the talking.
Ideally, your prospective client is in an open-minded state of mind, knowing the purpose of the call.
Your job, as the business owner is not to make the sale at all costs. A 100 per cent conversion rate on your sales calls means something is quite wrong.
The purpose of the sales call is simply to introduce yourself and to help the person make a decision. For most, this is the crux of it – because ‘no’ has become a dirty word, and most people would rather say anything but.
The right room
There are many reasons why people don’t buy, most of which we’ll never know. But we can make a couple of educated guesses.
First, your marketing may not have done a great job of communicating the value of what you sell. Everyone believes they communicate far more than they actually do. All of us could do better at communicating and demonstrating value with our clients and community.
Second, you could be in the wrong room, talking with the wrong people. Because it doesn’t matter how fabulous our service offering is, if there’s a mismatch between our business and our market, we’ll forever be justifying our price to people who just don’t get it. In which case, we need to change the room.
Want to learn how to sell, without sleaze, shame or unethical practises? We do this inside my Hustle & Heart flagship program.