offering stale valueIt’s the single most important concept to grasp to succeed in selling: Value is a moving target.

Value is never the same from one buyer to another. Values change even for the same buyer because value is inherently circumstantial.

When sellers shortcut needs assessments, they pitch on assumed (not actual) value about. They treat value as generic. This is a costly mistake.

No matter how good your marketing materials, 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. This frequently happens when sellers become complacent and continue to sell on value that has become outdated or irrelevant.

We forget that what people value changes constantly. What we value is primarily influenced by our current situation. A buyer who once valued top quality may later value fast shipping due to conditions changing 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.

Similarly, value is never generic. In fact, buyers may be offended if you make assumptions about what they value. No one wants to hear 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.

What’s more, the reason behind the value is different for each of us. The underlying motivation is important for a 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.

Don’t do this! Your buyers have a reason for appreciating this feature. Someone else could offer an entirely different feature that satisfies the same motivation. 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 buyers and determine what they value, how much they value it, and why . It’s worth the additional time to check back frequently and make sure what they valued before is what they value now. Sellers who neglect to tend to values find themselves kicked to the curb with no idea what went wrong.

Conversely, sellers who 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?


Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions, is a Top 50 Sales Influencer who’s championing the movement to Step Selling & Start Leading. Deb provides consulting, training and coaching for companies aiming to improve their sales, leadership and team connections.