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What Buyers Value: Don't Make This Mistake!

Asking questions reveals what buyers value and to what degree.

Questions about what buyers value should be routinely asked to confirm that what was important is still important. A proactive seller who identifies a new value early on has the advantage of being the first seller with a chance to meet the needs driven by this new value paradigm. On the other hand, a seller who misses a change may be left out in the cold when the buyer moves on to work with another seller who identified what buyers value and created a solution supporting the new value.

A Hard Lesson to Learn about What Buyers Value

To illustrate how this can happen, put yourself in the shoes of a sales rep who worked with the same account for nearly 15 years. The seller believed she knew the cover for site 2015account better than anyone. She visited frequently and had established an ease and comfort level with the buyer. She sheltered the account from sales blitzes and “mandatory” add-ons, defended the account against price increases and promotions, and maintained the status quo in every possible way.

This seller genuinely felt she was meeting the needs of her long-term customer. But by shielding the customer from new information and continuing to operate on old assumptions, the seller lost the account. She was blindsided when she stopped by one Tuesday afternoon, just as she had on every Tuesday afternoon for many years. The buyer was apologetic and tried to let her down easily by saying “We needed some fresh ideas and a new way of doing things. We’re switching to your competitor because they offer expedited delivery and different packaging sizes.”

Stunned, the seller could only say “We offer those things, too, but I know saving money is important to you so I never bothered you with those pitches.”

The buyer’s response was delivered in a disappointed and scolding tone. He said “You know we’ve always liked doing business with you. But who are you to make decisions like that for us?”

What was valued had changed for the buyer. The seller had become complacent and hadn’t checked in to understand emerging needs or to understand how what was valued had changed in the face of new competitive pressures. Her intentions may have been good, but her actions hurt her customer’s business and cost her company (and her personally) a major account that should have been a lifetime customer.

Sellers who keep abreast of what buyers value make it clear, over and over again, that they respect and are attuned to what their buyers care about most. This creates trust and connection. It also differentiates the seller and reveals new opportunities for additional sales. If a seller does not know what a buyer values, the seller is destined to make costly errors. Understanding what your buyer values is not optional.

The CONNECT2Sell Blog has been discontinued as our focus has shifted to leadership at every level. Research with buyers demonstrates that buyers respond favorably when sellers show up as leaders. If you'd like to step into your full potential as a leader (and boost sales!), take a look at our free and affordable courses on