In Sales, the Real Value Is YOU!
Published on October 5, 2018
Sure, your products have an inherent value. And your company offers deal sweeteners and added value like stellar service, loyalty rewards, giveaways, and product enhancements. But what buyers value most of all -- what buyers will pay more for -- is an experience that only YOU, the seller, can create for them.
That experience must be unique, meaningful, relevant, and personalized. The buyer wants to be engaged in dialogue and to have a chance to participate in creating what they want. That doesn't come from the company or the product or the chat bot. It can only be delivered by a human seller interacting directly with a buyer.
The books I've listed here are new in 2018 and provide insights and actions that will help you deliver real value to your buyers. In a year that's seen a record number of new sales books, these are among my personal favorites because they focus on YOU and how only you can create an experience that will earn customer loyalty and long-term connections.
Research with B2B buyers, backed by "personal best"stories from sellers affirms the importance of the seller and lays out the specific behaviors buyers want to see from the sellers they choose to do business with. In Stop Selling & Start Leading, sellers can learn The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® that increase a seller's chances of getting a meeting and of making a sale. This evidence-based framework of leadership, created by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, is the result of 30+ years of research with over 5 million people.
Behaviors are an outward expression of mindset and intent. Larry Levine, in Selling from the Heart, tells stories and shares examples that illustrate how the authentic YOU is where value comes from. When you read this book, you'll feel like you're getting to know the author, just as a buyer would have an experience getting to know him.
This book's theme is similar to the one Shari Levitin introduced in Heart and Sell (from 2017). She shows you how to make real and lasting connections with people. The tone and style of these two books are completely different, but both deliver useful examples for how to make the connections you need to succeed.
I recommend both, especially for those who struggle to find, nurture and convert leads to lifelong customers.
Skill set is important, too. This new book, The Seller’s Challenge, by Thomas Williams and Thomas Saine, breaks down ten deal-killing situations and gives you the concrete steps to overcome them. Example include dealing with price-focused buyers and handling RFPs. Everything in this book is practical, practical and immediately actionable.
The challenges and fixes presented in this book will help you shift from sales mode to connecting mode (which is how you'll make more sales). You'll create value by demonstrating skills most sellers, frankly, do not have.
One of the things I like best about this book is that it is so detailed in outlining exactly what a seller can do to work through these common and daunting obstacles. All while being authentic, human, personal and relevant to the buyer. These are formulas that don't feel formulaic. They are solutions that feel fresh and focused directly on the individual buyer.
The deepest dive I've ever read on one critical sales skill will also help you create value.
That comes from Lisa Dennis in. Value Propositions that Sell.
You can tell from the first page of this book that the author has genuine expertise in the subject of how to create a value proposition that actually conveys instant value. This is the one selling skill that gets you in the door AND helps you close the sale. I believe this is the most comprehensive book about value propositions ever written. It's all about creating value by focusing on buyer needs, even in the way you brand yourself.
In Sales Differentiation, Lee Salz also focuses on how to position value that will make you stand out in the crowd.
Like all the books on this list, this one is practical and includes specific action items that are easily implementable.
The author's strategies – coupled with ones you'll find in The Seller’s Challenge and Value Propositions that Sell, will help you ensure that you are buyer-focused and better positioned to advance more sales to mutually satisfying outcomes.
When you read all these books, you'll have the mindset, skill set and leadership behaviors that position you head and shoulders above your competition. Buyers respond to sellers who display these traits and skills. Why? Because this is the stuff that value and participatory experiences are made of.
And then there's this classic, newly released in its fourth edition.
Tom Reilly and Paul Reilly have refreshed Value-Added Selling. For me, the first edition of this book was a game changer in how I sold and how I saw the buyer/seller relationship.
This is the book that started the value movement. It promises and delivers “how to sell more profitably, confidently, and professionally by competing on value, not price.”
Updates in the fourth edition include a look at the latest trends and technology that have impacted the market and advice on leveraging current technology to increase sales.
Last but not least, two more books for those who want more examples from sellers like the ones you’ll read in Stop Selling & Start Leading.
First, there's a compelling read from Mike Adams called Seven Stories Every Salesperson Must Tell. This narrative, with a forward from sales legend Mike Bosworth, includes 50 stories from sellers around the world. What these stories have in common are how they showcase sellers who are differentiating themselves through value.
The author explains how value can be expressed by sharing stories. Stories inherently personalize, humanize, connect, and create experiences. They also make your offer more relate-able and meaningful to the buyer. Stories sell because they are value-laden.
Scott Ingram’s new addition, available in pre-release, is Sales Success Stories.
This fascinating read has 60 stories form 20 sellers who rank in the top 1% of their fields. Stories on mindset, relationships, sales careers, and sales process drive home the point that sellers create value through their actions.
One thing I found noteworthy in these stories is that top sellers frequently mention their mentors and others they’ve learned from. They display the humility to learn, grow, adapt and continually push themselves to try new things. They tackle challenges with resilience and aplomb, looking for the learning opportunities in every sales encounter.
Many of the stories include specific, replicable actions that any seller could use. Almost all the stories also describe a special bond with customers, stemming from value creation and/or experiences.
Nine books, all about YOU and how you can increase your sales by creating value for your buyers. Each takes a look through a different lens. Every one will help you build faster and stronger connections with buyers. These books are educational, inspirational, and action-oriented. You owe it to yourself and to your buyers to read at least a few of these!