Posts Tagged ‘value creation’

The Problem with Value Creation in 3 Letters

Every decade or so, another new term floats to the top of the business world.  In sales, value creation has been front and center.  Sales experts to sales training firms now educate salespeople on how they can create value.

The undisclosed problem with value creation resides in this 3 letter word – EGO.

When salespeople believe they create value, they are putting themselves and their egos before the buyer.  All of a sudden they know better than the buyer based upon their own experiences with other buyers.  In some cases this may be true.

Sales Coaching Tip: Even the most uneducated buyer can smell EGO a mile away.

When we look at the true meaning of the word create, it means to bring something into existence that did not exist before.  Value is unique to each buyer. Therefore value already resides within the buyer and cannot be created.

Possibly people confuse value creation with value connection and value rediscovery.

Value Connection

Through active listening, the salesperson learns what the buyer values.  Then the salesperson can craft his or her solution to ensure it connects to those value drivers.

Value Rediscovery

When salespeople rediscover an un-articulated value (this used to be called latent needs in sales), they can bring this to the attention of the buyer.  Possibly in the past other salespeople had failed to discover this value and it resided quietly in the buyer’s subconscious until it was rediscovered.

Ego is a sales killer.  No one likes to be sold as the old expression goes.

When salespeople believe in value creation, their egos prevent them from active listening to asking different questions.  Ego becomes a fallback behavior and potentially turns off more buyers than turns them on.

People buy from people they know and trustEgo prevents that exchange of knowledge and trust from happening.

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Are We Confusing Value Creation with Value Connection?

Value creation is still a popular term even though concepts like sales enablement or account based selling seem to be front and center these days.  In working with a new client, I once again realized how value creation doesn’t really exist because what is really happening is value connection.

People buy to satisfy a want or need.  Since the want or need exists consciously or subconsciously (latent needs), then salespeople cannot bring something into existence (create) that was already present.

What I believe good salespeople do is discover what the buyer values and then connects his or her solution to those very value drivers.  Now if the buyer had taken the Values Index, the Attribute Index or even the DISC Index, then the salesperson could have a head start to understanding and then connecting to what the buyer values.

Value Creation Unleashes the Seller’s Ego

My biggest concern with this idea of value creation is the salesperson believes he or she can create value and that belief may have him or her walking down the no sales path.  The salesperson walks in with the knowledge of the industry, some knowledge of the customer, hears (not actively listens) what the buyer is saying and now knows what the buyer values.  His or her ego is in charge of the sales conversations and potentially ignores clues because the seller has been there done that and knows what this new customer values.

People buy on value unique to them.  This is why there is such diversity in the world. The decision is made to buy from one salesperson even though the other salesperson had the same or even better solution.

Connecting to the value driver’s of the customer sometimes is easy and sometimes not so much.  Good to top sales performers probably engage in value connection without realizing it. Consider looking to how you can connect your solutions to the value drivers of your buyer and discover if this makes a difference for your own sales success.

Until 3/31/2017 take advantage of this special offer and experience three (3) assessments (Attribute Index, DISC Index & Values Index) for a special investment.  Click here to learn more.

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Are You Being Too Comfortable with Your Content Marketing?

B2B buyers are becoming far more educated and astute. A 2014 DemandGen reported:


  • 65% of the buyers shared the winning vendor’s content marketing had a significant impact on their buying decision
  • 68% indicated they increased the amount of content used to research and evaluate their purchases

Of course it is easy to be comfortable about writing posts on building rapport, asking open ended questions, to what CRM tools a salesperson should have. Then there are all those comfortable postings about attitude, motivation and the necessary talents.

The necessary  question to ask yourself is “Does this content make the sales lead think differently about you, your company or your solution?”  To think differently make require your perspective to challenge the status quo.

For example, I do not believe in value creation.  This goes against many of the recognized experts.  I do believe top salespeople connect to the value drivers of the sales leads, the ideal potential customers. This column has discussed this issue numerous times and does make other uncomfortable.

Listen to the podcast “Can Salespeople Create Value” between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Uncomfortable content marketing makes the reader think and take notice.  For example, discussing risk does make most people uncomfortable.  People especially salespeople want control because they want to “close the deal!”.  The more risk results in lesser control.

Have you ever thought about risk from the perspective of dissonance?

If the goal is to increase sales through content marketing given how much content is being consumed by sales leads and the ultimate decision makers, then shouldn’t your content Be the Red Jacket by standing out among all the other gray suits?

The status quo also applies to your state of being comfortable. And if writing the content makes you a little uncomfortable, this probably means you will be making the reader also uncomfortable. Of course, always be mindful of being respectful to the reader by applying emotional intelligence to your word selection.



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Time to Stop with the Cheap Sales Behaviors – Part 2



Continuing with the cheap sales behaviors, here are another four (4) that may resonate with you.

Professional Development

How much time do you devote to your own professional development? Are you in the sales behavior of self-directed learning?  Sales continues to change even though in many instances it still remains the same.  With more educated buyers, understanding value creation, value articulation and value realization is essential if you truly want to increase sales.

If you say you don’t have time, do you waste 12 minutes a day? If you answered yes, that is one hour a week.  So time becomes another excuse to continue your cheap sales behaviors.

Common Courtesy

What does it take to send a handwritten thank you note?  No it is cheaper to send an email than to take the time to express your thanks for an act of kindness.  Loyal customers as well as centers of influence appreciate those acts of kindness and will remember you before the last salesperson who called on them.

Returned Phone Calls

Another cheap sales behavior is not returning phone calls.  “I don’t have time” or “I’ll call back later” is an inexcusable cheap sales behavior. With all the SMB in the marketplace, your sales lead or customer will just as quickly call your competitor.

Spraying and Praying Sales Behaviors

Possibly the cheapest sales behaviors are what I call spraying and praying. These behaviors are the result of no strategic planning including no market research.  SMB owners to salespeople spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.

These are the folks passing out multiple cards at B2B networking events. There is no clarity as to their next marketing, selling or keeping sales behaviors.

Yes cheap has always existed, doing the least for the most. For those engaged in selling, cheap sales behaviors just may ensure you have cheap sales.

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Just Unite Risk & Resolution to Increase Sales

After reading a quote by Tim Riesterer (Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Corporate Visions), I wondered out loud how many salespeople have the ability to increase sales by effectively uniting risk and resolution?

increase-salesAccording to Riesterer, those salespeople who create risk (think pain) and can provide a resolution message within their sales conversations positively impact behavior by 9% compared to risk messages or resolution messages only.

Just think about that statistic. Possibly you have the sales ability to create the risk, but you have failed to connect the risk directly to your resolution message. As they say, how much are you leaving on the table?

Additionally, Riestered said when pairing risk and resolution this combined sales behavior boost emotional responses by 12%.  Since people buy first on emotion, justified by logic, then pairing risk and resolution appears to make logical sales sense especially if the ultimate goal is to increase sales.

Why I found Riesterer comments intriguing was I had just recorded a podcast with David Brock about “Value Creation.” This perspective of risk creation made far more sense to me than the existing sales belief of value creation. Even though our conversation did not dwell on this topic of risk and resolution, I believe it brings a different perspective to this ongoing discussion about value creation.

Listen to our podcast on Value Creation.

The question then goes to how do you as a salesperson create risk and then connect it or pair it with your resolution message without going into the weeds as it has been said? Simplicity is probably the key in this endeavor.

Using numbers may help, dollars even better on both the risk and resolution said. Here is also where whitepapers may help. State the risk of the customer and then immediately pair it to your ROI solution.

To increase sales does suggest we may wish to think a little differently. Uniting risk and resolution is one such different sales behavior. Let me know how it works for you.

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Increase Sales By Remembering This Nugget

With 99% of sales leads not converting per Forrester or if you like 87% not converting per LinkedIn, the ability to increase sales is suffering.  Does this make sense given today’s salespeople have more tools, improved technology and even better development (forget training)?



You think you have:

  • Identified your ideal customer
  • Researched the customer’s industry
  • Kept abreast of current market trends
  • Begun to develop good to great relationships with your customers
  • Met (personally) all the key decision makers

And yet, your goal to increase sales still falls short. You must continually hunt for new sales leads because the ones in your funnel do not convert.

The Nugget

Forrester research also revealed this:

74% of buyers choose a solution provider who has worked with them to provide clarity of vision in walking a path of value

Now some believe this statement refers to value creation and I am not sure. Given the continued failed rate of execution for many business strategies, this ability to bring clarity by uniting the solution to the vision of the strategy makes sense.  From this clarity comes the ability to walk the path of strategy execution which is side by side to the path of value.

What this also means is the salesperson has actively listened to what is important to the buyer beyond the business strategies and goals. He or she can restate in simpler terms what was just said in such as way clarity comes first.  Many times in sales conversations I will say “This is what I heard you say.” Then I restate what I heard. In doing so, I have removed some of the verbal limitations and barriers within the sales lead’s conversation.  Many times, the sales lead will tell me, “Yes that is what I mean. You said it much better and simpler” or “Yes, you got it!”

Clarity or rather lack of clarity is probably the most common sales obstacle and probably the most often ignored one. Just imagine what would happen to your goal to increase sales, if you could just convert 10% more sales leads through this simple action  of clarity?

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Value Creation – The Truth Leaks Out

There is a lot of spin in sales about value creation.  In fact, books, webcasts, seminars to sales training events continue to push that salespeople can create value.  Some recent marketing research by Spong is now revealing what I have said for years:


Value is created by the buyer not the seller.

Buyers put a greater value on their own personal experience or their close friends and family than on what experts believe or the actual brands themselves. This preference is not a small percentage, but rather at 74%.  Pretty significant, wouldn’t you say?

If buyers rely on their own experiences, then how can any salesperson create value?

To understand buying behaviors require those in sales to understand the existing values (the beliefs) residing within those buying experiences.

What top sales performers do, almost instinctively, is they connect to the value drivers (some of which may have been un-articulated) of their ideal customers.  This may help to explain why there is a perception of value creation by salespeople.

This research also suggests as buyers age, their beliefs about brand attributes also increases. Another interesting fact is quality still appears to be a top buying driver.

Years ago my father shared in sales there are three primary factors:

  • Cost
  • Delivery
  • Quality

Usually, most buyers are not willing to give up quality or delivery, but are willing to give up cost.  Hence, money is not the deciding factor to increase sales many believe it to be.

The good news for local small business salespeople is 30% of the buyers appear to appreciate local brands over national brands.

Where there is a sales advantage is within those buyers who have expressed neutrality among brand preference.  This is where the salesperson can through active listening and effective questioning can learn what those value drivers are for the potential customer.

By believing in value creation by salespeople may lead those hungry salespeople down the wrong path especially for small businesses where their sales team is also their marketing team.  Possibly the best lesson from this marketing and consequently sales research is to just listen to what is being said instead of presuming you as the salesperson already know what your sales prospect needs or wants.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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What Is the First Rule of Sales?

In reading the search terms that currently drive almost 2,000 daily visits to this blog (and thank you for visiting), one of those terms was this question: What is the first rule of sales?

what-is-the-first-rule-of-salesI had never thought of that specific question because sales is comprised of so many elements. So I did a Google search to read what others had said and there are many first rules with a strong emphasis on you as the salesperson. Much of this emphasis centered around how the salesperson creates value.

For me, value creation is not the answer because value is unique to each buyer.

Salespeople mistakenly believe they create value when in reality  what they are actually doing is connecting to the value drivers of their potential buyers.

So what is the first rule of sales?

The simple answer is the “buyer.” For without a buyer there would be no sale, no exchange of dollars for solutions (products or services), nothing would happen.

The buyer goes beyond the customer.

This is the person you must hear both of what is said and not said.

This is the person you have an authentic relationship that may take numerous contacts to develop.

This is the actual person who approves or signs the contract from which you earn your commission or salary.

Yes, the answer to the question of “what is the first rule of sales? is quite simple. And maybe its simplicity is why so many people fail to answer it correctly.

P.S. Thanks to whomever used that search term.

If you truly want to increase sales, then scheduled a no risk 20 minute Business Growth Accelerator Session with Leanne Hoagland-Smith at 219.759.5601 CST where you will receive:

#1 – Quick assessment of your current sales process

#2 – One business growth strategy to increase results by 20% in 60 days

Consider giving her a call especially if what you have tried has not worked and you are ready to challenge and then change the current status quo.

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In Sales Training Fools Rush In Where Angels Fear to Tread – Part 2

If  being successful as a salesperson is all about having someone buy your solution, then most sales training really is buying training isn’t it?

Now there are some efforts in the sales training industry that discuss being an assistant to the buyer. Yet the focus is still on the salesperson first and the buyer second. This focus is quite evident with all the discussion around value creation to selling on value. (Sales Training Coaching Tip: Selling on value is based upon the perception of the salesperson first and this is foolhardy.)


According to my several decades of being both a salesperson and a buyer, how I perceive value is unique to me whether it is within the solutions I offer or the solutions I choose to buy. Usually, I have discovered that my perception of value is what drives my buying experience. I truly cannot remember any salesperson who sold me on what he or she thought was the value of their solution. (Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Selling on value usually ignores what is important to the buyer because the premise beings with the salesperson as he or she learned through the sales training.)

For example, years ago I had a meeting with a VP of Sales for a large manufacturing plant. I held the dual role of Purchasing Manager and Inside Sales Manager. This VP could not understand why I would ever consider his competitor given his perception of value was they were both the same and no firm needed three vendors all offering the same products.

What he failed to understand was my buying value extended beyond the products.  His firm had numerous back orders, short shipments and invoices with wrong pricing and discounts.  All of these issues took time and our company ran a pretty tight ship so there was not a lot of free time to address these issues. The other competitor usually shipped complete 97.5% of the time (I actually did an analysis and still remember this figure) with invoicing being 99.8% correct. As to short shipments, this only happened with less than 1% of the time.

When sales training begins from the salesperson and not from the buyer, this is indeed foolhardy. In sales, such a perspective only increases the egos of the salespersons because they believe in their own value and have a close mind to the “buying value” that resides within the buyer. Just imagine the possibilities if sales training was renamed “sales buying training,” and the results such a change in perspective could deliver.

P.S. Speaking of sales buying training, learn the 3 Sales Buying Rules on Thursday March 7, 2013 from 12-12:30pm CST. This free webinar will discuss these 3 sales buying rules along with some of the talents that work with these critical rules.


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Value Connection is Value Creation and Value Selling

Sales people cannot create value nor can they sell value in spite of what so many small business coaches to sales training coaching consultants espouse. The simple reason sales people cannot create value is value is unique to each buyer. Additionally, when sales people believe they can sell value or worse yet create value, they are putting their egos into “watch me go gear” and  forgetting sales is about the other person, the buyer, and it is not about you, the seller.


This confusion should be not surprising as there does exist a lot of confusion when it comes to marketing and selling within the sales process.

What top sales performers actually do is value connection.  They recognize the value unique to each buyer and then connect (bridge) their solutions to that value as perceived by their buyers.

Of course value connection does not sound as superior or as sophisticated as value creation or value selling.  Yet value connection is truly more in line with marketing and selling if you believe “sales is the transference of feelings.” (Zig Ziglar) For that transference to happen, there must be a connection. a bridge,  between two people – the buyers and the sellers.

Value connection does require excellent emotional intelligence along with active listening skills  Being able to keep the value connection bridge open happens through asking the appropriate open or closed ended question as well as other sales skills. Researching the potential buyer also supports value connection because you are not wasting precious time to establish and build that value connection bridge.

If you, as a salesperson, believe in value creation and value selling, I sincerely doubt if I can change that belief. However if that belief was true, then everyone would be driving a Yugo, eating at McDonald’s and shopping at Wal-Mart.

P.S. If sales is the transference of feelings, then understanding who you are and being true to you may be the place to start. Join other sales professionals and small business owners for this FREE webinar Be True to You on Thursday, January 3, 2013 from 12-12:30pm CST.

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