How to Sell on Value. And Why You Must Always Build Capability and Capacity first

This article responds to the question “How do I have the right people understand the value of what I do”


More specifically, how can we ensure our prospects understand our true value and are willing to pay our higher price.  This is written with a focus on selling a service, however if your product solves a problem it is a service.  So read this article with the question “how could this apply to me”

The generally accepted sales model goes something like this:

  • Build know, like , trust
  • Diagnose the issue, problem or situation
  • Help them see the full impact
  • Offer your services as the solution

Not rocket science – accepted consultative sales process.  The process has 3 parts.

  • Firstly it establishes what the real issue so you can propose the right solution.
  • Secondly, by exploring the true impact, your prospect can see how important it is to solve the problem (and if it is, it motivates them to hire you to solve it, or if you sell a product to buy your product).
  • Thirdly it establishes you as an expert (experts and specialists always get paid more!) and creates credibility and gives the prospect confidence.

There are 2 problems with this model…….

  1.  Everybody’s doing it
  2. Google and the web means the prospect has probably decided what the solution is.

So they’re coming to you believing they’ve already diagnosed their problems and just want you to provide the solution.  And your competition is doing the same which makes it hard differentiate yourself.  You’re left negotiating on price.  Ouch!!!


You’re no longer a trusted partner and advisor guiding them through the problem-solving process. You’re a vendor they’re telling what they want and what they’re willing to pay for it.

So, what do we need to do to ensure we don’t sell on price?

One way is to be the market leader in what you do. And make that clear on your website, marketing collateral etc.  But there can only be one leader and maybe you’re not the one, but your value is still what the prospect needs.

What your competition is saying and research on the web may point them in the right direction – but it doesn’t give them the depth of experience and knowledge that you have or the specific qualities of your product.  That’s what it’s your job to help them understand.

So how do you do that?   What works best is creating what I call bfo’s.  That’s blinding flashes of the obvious.!!

These are moments where, in your discussion with your prospect (or the language on your label), light bulbs suddenly go off in their heads. Something you say helps them see things differently.  They get deeper insights into their situation or problem. They suddenly see a solution that is more far-reaching, more innovative and maybe even have a much greater impact. If you’re really good you help them understand something they didn’t before.   You help them see the deeper cause of their situation.

Here’s how it works in my business.  A prospect contacts me because they want more customers, they need some marketing help.  In my sales process what I may help them see is that more customers (right now) won’t solve the problem.  It might even create more problems because there are bottlenecks in the delivery system, or they don’t actually have the structure, staff, systems and processes to handle more customers.  Getting more customers with that structure would most likely cause the customers to be dissatisfied. And we all know what dissatisfied customers do. 

I help my prospect realise that it’s how they’re thinking about their business (tactical rather than strategic thinking) that is the problem. That’s the light bulb moment I want!    The need to build capacity and capability first.  From that moment of the bfo we can begin to build the business so that it can handle more customers – then go get the more clients/customers. 

So how do you get those wonderful bfo moments?

Your sales process must deliver insight and discovery that makes it a strategic decision to invest in your offering.   If it’s a product, make it a values driven decision to buy your product.

How did I work out what I needed to do differently?  Well of course it’s those 10,000 hours to become an expert! plus a few techniques.  Here’s 3 of them.


  • understand time horizons – build a longer time horizon
  • extrapolate out what the solution offered by your competition might do to the business
  • discuss the consequences of going with the immediate need rather than the long term solution

So the question is, what can you do to ensure your prospect sees engaging with you at your higher price will deliver a much better long term solution? 

I learnt this technique from Ian Brodie.

Do an audit of your service and product offerings and recent sales.  Look for surprises. For each service or product you’ve delivered look for what was new, insightful, unusual and surprising to the client you were working for. Try to find the things that are often “news”. The things that most clients didn’t realise before they started working with you.

Let’s say you’re an office furniture supplier.  You might find that clients are often surprised that quality doesn’t always cost more, and that price is not the best indicator of durability, or that re-designing the layout means they can fit more people in the same space and don’t actually need to move offices.

Or you do nutrition and you find that most nutrition initiatives fail not because of the advice itself – but because it’s not followed up and reinforced by coaching and mentoring afterwards.

Actually bfo moments around implementation (or the use of your product or its cradle to cradle life cycle) can be the best because they give you an opportunity to tell a story or a case study of how you helped someone (or the planet)  in a similar situation and the result they got.  You walk a little in their shoes and demonstrate empathy with their world view.

Try this and see if you get different results – and please do let me know how you get on.

To your success in life and in business!!!



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