“Value” selling – A Silver Bullet (Part 1)

From buying cycles, product quotas, corporate reorganizations and internal buying processes, the complexities of selling in the B2B space are many. As if this wasn’t enough to contend with, salespeople also need to be aware that the very people they are selling to, have their own personal objectives as well, which (whether we realize this or not) are just as, if not more than, important. Why? Because by understanding this personal dynamic of the sale, we can build strategies around the buyer’s personal objectives, as we strive to create a win-win outcome. Done right, this is a game-changing differentiator.

In my experience within B2B selling, and as a Sales Performance Coach, understanding the concept of how to attend to your buyers’ personal objectives (which we will call a Win) is for some, challenging to comprehend. At MHI Global, we believe in establishing a win-win relationship with our clients via a practical time-tested method we refer to as Win-Results. This is something that you can apply to your sales situations as well. Here’s how:

  • Understand the basic human condition - survival.

We all possess a fundamental instinct for survival known as self-interest. Let me illustrate with an example: You board an airplane. Before you take off, there is a safety briefing. In that safety briefing, you are advised that in the event of cabin decompression, how to put on an oxygen mask - yours first even if you have others dependent on you. In other words: unless I maintain ‘me’ first, I can’t maintain those around me. This self-interest is innate in us all and should not be confused with being selfish. Applying this to the business world means - I need to make a profit, because without that profit, I cannot survive to fulfill the promises of; service to customers, employment to employees or commitments to self and those who are my dependents.

Maslow’s theory of hierarchical needs illustrates this perfectly. At the base of the pyramid are the fundamental requirements for human survival. Self-interest is our hardwired programming that triggers the need to acquire the things we need to survive. This hard wiring manifests itself in your work environment as well and, even more importantly, in your buyer’s decision-making process. Each and every one of us will have our own interpretation from every situation we encounter of how we will win or lose. It is this perception that guides all our decision-making processes. This perception of fulfilling a basic need for one’s self, a Win, is evident in every decision and action we take, especially those that are concerned with buying your products/services. The mechanism that can help us understand this principle in our selling situations is what MHI Global knows as the principle of Win-Results.

  • Understanding Win-Results.

The premise is simple: For a person to Win, a result needs to happen first, because you can’t Win unless a result has occurred. What do I mean by this? Let’s define what a result is:

“A result is a business outcome. It is the objective, quantifiable/measurable impact your product or service will have on your customer’s business process and will usually be measured in percentages, revenue, time and so on.”

These business outcomes or results will in turn define to what extent your buyer Wins. So we define a win as:

The fulfilment of a subjective promise to one’s self that serves one’s own self-interest.

Wins are neither quantifiable nor measurable - they are deeply subjective, personal and almost always never the same for different buyers. When you put the two together, what you have is a Win-Result.


I love meeting and interacting with people and I’m lucky that in my line of business, I talk to many companies; I guide them on how they can transform into a next generation sales organization. Over dinner one evening, I was speaking to the CEO of a large MNC. Let’s call him Bill. Bill runs a large profitable business, which had seen its market share seriously eroded over a 12-month period due to aggressive competitor M&A activity. His response to the Company’s eroded market position was to begin transforming his organization into a smarter next-generation sales organization. There was the usual discussion as to the sort(s) of result(s) he was looking for: increased top-line revenue, improved closing ratios, decreased cost per sale and other (lagging) performance indicators. But these are results - what was his Win? That only became clearer as he shared his own personal aspirations throughout our dinner. In his mid 50’s, Bill discussed retirement in 5 years and wanting to ensure his work gave him the financial security he needed in retirement. Additionally he talked about leaving a legacy for the management team he had become very attached to. Bill’s Win(s) turned out to be: 1) peace of mind relating to financial security for his retirement and 2) ensuring he left the business in good order for those that followed him. Building these important considerations into the sales strategy became an important part of how we focused on win-win and will be discussed later in part 2 of this blog.

  • Understanding Losses.

Let’s now clarify our understanding of Wins by looking at the flip side: losses. Let me start by saying something a little contentious: no one ever bought a product or service from you. In fact, no one ever buys a product or service per se. Buyers, buy what that product or service will help them fix, accomplish and/or avoid. For example, no one ever really just buys a car; you buy the ability to get to and from work, or school for instance. Alternatively, the make of car you choose may support an identity aspiration: a Volvo may suggest a safety conscious mind and may affirm good parenting. A Porsche on the other hand may affirm a sense of sportiness or youth. There are a multitude of reasons, which are highly subjective and personal because it’s based on how it makes you feel. These feelings have many components to them and can be influenced by our values, experiences and stage of life. The Win therefore, is the emotional intangible feeling that the decision to buy creates.

So when someone says ‘no’, to you what he or she is really saying is that, they perceive your product or service as a ‘loss’ to them (personally) as no one would intentionally make a decision that disadvantages their own self-interest.

Take a moment to think what a win is to you and try to visualize it. Is it greater financial freedom, more personal time, job security, or more recognition? Now that you’re in the buyer mindset, ask yourself - what would be the premium on price you would be prepared to pay to secure your win? Only you know the answer, but I guarantee this - there is a number.

As salespeople we tend to focus primarily on Results and very little on Wins. But concentrating only on results could mean at some point we may create the wrong Win (a Loss) for our buyers, even though we didn’t intend it. Understanding and managing how your buyers (note the plural) Win in a buying situation is a profound differentiator and a potential silver bullet.

In my next blog, we’ll take a look at how you can identify your buyer’s Win.

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