An International Organization of CEOs

Resource Presentation Summary

Value Added Selling

Chuck Reaves

Price Is Never The Reason


No single customer in recorded history has said “your price is too high” and really meant it.


When customers say your price is too high, they really mean they don’t perceive the cost as being equal to the value. Businesses perceive price; customers perceive value.


The teaching process needs to start at the top and be pushed all the way down in the organization so that individuals at all levels become more educated and gain the ability to make good decisions. The single most important function of managers is to teach. The most effective managers don’t do the most; they cause the most to happen.


Perception is the key to selling. People don’t buy based on the actual quality of your product or service. They buy according to their perception of the quality.


Send the message to all your people that doing business is tough. People need to understand the value of having to struggle. If you don’t teach them that lesson, they will quit the first time they encounter an obstacle.


There is always some way to differentiate your product and company. That is the basis of value added selling. Every product or service can and should be, sold on the basis of value added, not price.


Plush Selling


Plush is a five-step method for selling. Any time you fail to close a sale, go back and closely examine your performance in each area. You will probably find at least one area where you failed to follow the technique.


Positioning: This is the foundation of value added selling. Through your interaction with the customer, you are constantly telling them, “Here’s who I am,” and, more importantly, “Here’s who I think you are.”


Positioning is who the customer thinks you are. How they position you will cause them to make a buy/no-buy decision. You have total control of your positioning because you tell the customer what to think about you.


Salespeople must understand that every sales call is an audition for the next one. They should position your company and product all the way through the sales cycle.


How you use your time and the customer’s time makes a strong positioning statement. Time is the most precious commodity; how you use it tells the customer what you think of yourself and them.


Three critical questions to answers are:

  • What are you going to do to position yourself differently in your customer’s mind?
  • What is your position in the marketplace going to be?
  • How will you position your company in the marketplace?


Listen: Every customer has a secret: “Here’s what it would take for me to do business with you today.”


Nine times out of ten, customers won’t tell you this secret on their own. You have to ask. If you ask and then listen, nine times out of ten they will tell you. The secret lies in knowing what question to ask and how to ask it.


With value added selling, you must find out the customers’ wants and needs. You must understand their business almost as well as your own. Often, customers don’t know exactly what they want or need. If you can help them make the buying decision, your value in their minds will go up.


Three questioning techniques will help you learn their secret:


  • Ask the same question three different times in three different ways. When using this technique only take the third answer. The first answer is what people think you want to hear. Rephrase your question and ask again. Your section question is usually answered with an unrealistic expectation. Rephrase that question and ask again. Now when the customer starts talking, they will tell you how to get more business.


You – (1st question): How are we doing with you?

Customer: Fine!

You – (2nd question): How can we serve you better?

Customer: Cut your prices in half.

You – (3rd question): Well, we can’t do that. But you’re a sharp business person. If you were running my company, what would you do differently?
Customer: Oh, here’s what I would do… (Their answer now becomes the secret to getting more business.)

This technique also works very well with disgruntled customers. The first question lets them ventilate their angry feelings. The second question will elicit an unrealistic expectation. Their answer to the third question will tell you how to resolve the problem and even improve the relationship.

Let the angry customer go through the whole process. Never cut them off after the first or second question.


  • Build an assumption into the question. Ask a question that assumes something the customer might not otherwise tell you. If the customer tries to answer the question, they verify your assumption. They answer may or may not be accurate. The fact that they verified your assumption is. The “third party” technique is particularly effective if you think a person might give you an evasive answer or avoid the truth altogether. Instead of asking the question in the first person, ask it in the third.


A boss wants to understand the poor attitude of his employees. He goes to employee “Jones” to find out.

Boss – (1st person): “Jones, why don’t you respect me?”

Boss – (3rd person): “Jones, why doesn’t Smith respect me?”

It is a rare employee who would answer the first question directly and honestly. With the third party technique, Jones is free to respond because he is not responsible for the answer.

When using this technique with customers, ask questions like:

  • How do we stack up against the competition?
  • What three things does our competition do that you would like us to do?
  • What three things do we do better than our competition?
  • The single most powerful sales, management, or all around question in existence is: “I don’t know, what do you think?”

This question is so powerful because it draws solutions out of the other person. Often their solution is better than anything you might have come up with.

“I don’t know” tells the other person you don’t always have the best answer. “What do you think” gives them license and encourages them to tell you what they think.

Unique: Being unique is essential. You have to set yourself apart from everyone else, both individually and corporately. Everyone in the organization must understand what you do that is different and how you differentiate yourself from competitors.


Salespeople in particular have to be unique and different. When they add value or provide solutions to customer problems or opportunities, they distinguish themselves from the pack.


In retail, never allow your people to approach the customer and open with, “May I help you?” The customer is programmed to respond, “No, thanks, I’m just looking.” Have your people ask questions that get the customer to think before they respond.


Goals function unconsciously in the mind. They allow us to recognize opportunity. They are four basic types of goals:


  • Subconscious goals: They are in the mind even though we don’t usually put them there. They tend to dominate our thinking.
  • Unintentional goals: These are goals we set based on someone else’s definition of success for us.
  • External goals: These are goals someone else sets for us, like production or sales quotes. External goals are usually based on the average or norm. When someone else sets a goal for you, you can always do better.
  • Set goals: These must be written quantified (measurable) and dated.


Solution: Solve the customer’s problem, not yours. By positioning your product or service as the solution to a problem, the value increases dramatically. But customers usually don’t tell you their problems, only their symptoms. Keep questioning and probing to determine their real problems.


When a customer tells you something, ask, “Is this a cause or an effect?” As you do this, your value goes up in the customer’s mind.


When solving customer problems, first understand what they perceive the problem to be. Then look to understand how they quantify it in customer terms. Ask, “If you didn’t have this problem, what would happen?” When they answer, ask, “What would it be worth to you in term of dollars?” Or, “What would it be worth to you in terms of market dominance?”


Determine how the problem relates to company goals and objectives.


Help the Customer: Helping means giving selflessly, without expectation of compensation. What have you done for customers lately that won’t bring you anything in return? Often, you can make the sale just because the customer perceives you are willing to help.




There are only three reasons people buy anything (price is not one of them!):


  • They want it.


  • They need it.


  • They like the salesperson.


Price is never an issue. If somebody really wants or needs something, they will find a way to get it. But, no matter how much they want or need something, if they don’t like the salesperson, they will go elsewhere to get it.


To satisfy a want, people will pay more. To satisfy a need, people will pay quickly.


When people say they want something, have your salespeople start on the high-end products. When customers say they need something, get the order form out because they need it today. Keep this difference in mind at all times.


It’s easy to confuse wants and needs. When examined closely, most needs turn out to be wants. Smart salespeople capitalize on this. When people confuse their wants and needs they buy quickly and buy a lot. Have two marketing plans, one based on wants and one on needs, because people buy in two different ways.




Value added selling has three levels:


  1. You never deal with the price objection because you put the value up front.


  1. You get the customer to sign the contract without knowing what the product is because they aren’t buying the product.


  1. You get the customer to sign the contract without knowing the product or the price because they aren’t buying either.


Most salespeople use a features/benefits analysis. A feature is what a product has. A benefit is what a product does. When you talk only “features and benefits,” you don’t find out the customer’s buying issues.


Value added selling uses a technique called “jeopardy selling.” It involves stating everything in the sales pitch in the form of a question. If you answer a customers’ question, your chances of making the sale are cut in half. If you answer a question about price, your chances of making the sale are reduced to about one in a hundred.


Instead, when customers ask about price, turn the question around. Ask them what they are trying to accomplish so you can begin to see how you can help them. That way you can start adding value before you talk about price.


During this process, you may discover your product or service isn’t right for the customer. If so, find out why and then direct them to someone else and quit wasting time for both of you.


Never make a statement until you are ready to close. Once you make a statement or answer a question, the customer takes control of the transaction.


In value added selling, a feature is what a product has; a benefit is what a product does for specific customer. Don’t go into a sales call with a blanket feature/benefit analysis. The customer is interested only in those benefits that apply to them. The only way to find out which benefits apply is to ask. Once you ask, the customer will tell you everything you need to know.


Benefits are solutions to particular problems. The customer will give you symptoms; you must relate them to specific problems. Then you can determine which benefit will fit that particular problem.


Remember, you are selling solutions. Equate your product, features and benefits to a solution to the customer’s problem based on what the customer told you about the symptoms.





As an exercise, write in one sentence what business you are in. This statement should include what your company does, what your market niche is, how you differentiate yourself, and how you attack the market.

Your written statement should meet the following criteria:

  •          Is it reflected in your corporate mission statement?                           –
  •          Is your compensation program focused on it?
  •          Do your employees know it?
  •          If so, how do you know they know?
  • Do your customers know what business you are in?
  • What are your competitors doing to compete with you?



TEC – Value Added Selling – Chuck Reaves