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Are You Adding Value or Subtracting It?

Adding value to a sales call – even a brief telephone call – is not difficult. It doesn’t cost a penny. It does require a deliberate focus on caring about what would be of interest to this particular buyer at this moment in time. Adding value means first understanding what would be valued.

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Adding Value Means...

This term “added value” means different things to different people. Some describe adding value as bundling in additional features or options, often at no extra charge. Others describe added value as a giveaway or deal sweetener like box seats at a ball game or promotions to reward top clients with incentives. Still others describe value added as a preferred status or higher level partnership given to a few select customers.

The basic meaning of adding value is simpler. Adding value is something every seller can (and should!) do in every selling encounter. To add value means to bring a little extra to the meeting – not extra product or extra incentives necessarily, but extra value. To know what will be valued by your buyer, you’d first have to find out what your buyer values. Don’t make generalities or assumptions. Make it personal when it comes to value.

Value is unique to every single buyer.

Sellers tend to make assumptions and over-rely on generic value instead of discovering what is uniquely valued by each individual buyer. That’s why they miss the mark.

Consider the professional directory listings sales rep who started each call by saying “I have a value-added offer for you. If you sign up today, I can offer you a bold-type header for your listing.”

It’s not a bad offer as the price to buy bold type ranged from $750 to $2500 (depending on the total distribution of the selected directory). But the value didn’t resonate with all buyers because different people value different things. For some buyers this “value added” was actually “value subtracted.”

Some buyers value time more than they value savings. Being pressed to make this decision on a day when they are already overwhelmed with deadlines and deliverables on other projects is value-subtracting, not value-adding, for these buyers. On another day, when these buyers do get around to making the purchase, they feel they have lost something. It bothers them to proceed with the purchase knowing there is less to it.

Some buyers value image more than they value savings. They don’t want their listing to be presented looking the same as so many others. Learning that bold type is widely available at no extra cost makes it unappealing to these buyers. This subtracts value rather than adding value because it increases the effort required to stand out more than all these bold type listings will.

Some buyers value creativity more than they value savings. Learning that the single line of bold type is only available in the header when they would prefer to have it in their tag line makes it value-subtracting. The inflexibility of the so-called “value-added offer” is unsatisfying to this creative type.

The list goes on. When something generic is offered to everyone, not everyone will appreciate the value equally.

Next Steps:

  • To learn more about DISCOVER Questions® and how to get connected in meaningful ways with your buyers, order your copy of this bestseller from Amazon.com
  • When you need sales or management coaching, customized sales training, or a dynamic speaker call us at 408-779-PFPS or book an appointment with Deb.
  • Check out these resources for sales managers and front line sellers. New webinars, infographics, research, podcasts and more added every month!


The award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog is for professional sellers who believe, as we do, that Every Sale Starts with a Connection.

Deb Calvert, “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” author and Top 50 Sales Influencer, is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach.


Topics: buyer relationships, CONNECT2SELL Blog, DISCOVER Questions™, value

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