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Selling Value Without Selling, Part 3: THE SOLUTION!

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Mar 24, 2023

In part 1, I gave you a sample of how the ‘selling value’ discussions sounds.  Here it is again.

Prospect: Why should I do business with you or your bank / company?

Sample traditional response:  Because we bring a value added approach to our relationships. We do more than just get you great rates on loans and deposits. We approach your business from a ‘trusted advisor’ approach. We work hard to understand what your overall objectives are and then search to find solution to help you achieve those objectives. Our staff focuses specifically on the agriculture segment. We have a combined 135 years of experience. Our bank has the biggest market share in this area and our branches are conveniently located throughout your footprint, we have extended hours of operation and our on-line banking deliverable is second to none. If you are looking to work with a bank that can do those things, has that kind of focus, then I’d like to show you, and tell you more about how we can help you and your business grow and prosper.

Here is a sample of how someone might respond if they are ‘positioning’ value.

Prospect: Tony, why should I do business with you and your company?

Tony:  I know this may sound strange but maybe you shouldn’t. We really haven’t gotten too deep into your business. I don’t even know your business objectives or priorities. I don’t know the challenges you face that might be unique to you and your business. It would be arrogant of me to assume we should do business. But, maybe the best way for us to figure out any potential business relationship is engage in a conversation that I have with many business owners the first time we meet. Okay?

Key Take away: Prospects are used to salespeople telling them why they – the prospect – should buy from them.  When a sales person says, ‘maybe you shouldn’t’, the prospect is hearing something that they NEVER hear from a salesperson thus accomplishing the goal of: Don’t look, act or sound like a sales person. It’s one thing to have a marketing piece that touts your organization’s uniqueness, differentiators from the competition, it’s another to have people on your team that truly are unique in their approach.

Prospect continues: Sure, where should we start?

Tony: It may not be the case with you, but with many ag business owners / operators have come to me with questions / problems with the following:

(keep in mind that you MUST understand your target market so well that you can verbalize EXACTLY the problems / concerns prospective clients deal with seasonally or year round. Then you must use that deep domain knowledge as part of the conversation with new prospects)

1. Maintaining or Growing the margin between receivables and accounts payable.

2. Making sure that their financials are strong so that when required they can get access to cash on a costs favorable and timely basis

3. Have solutions that help them grow or maintain a sustainable or scalable business.

When you take those moments at the end of the day, week or month and think about your business which of these three, margins, strong financials, sustainable / scalable business is top of mind or close to it?

Key take away: When a salesperson is attempting to position value they do so via the questions they ask. They do so by telling stories – working with my other clients.  They demonstrate their expertise not by telling the prospect they are experts in cash flow analysis, business transition strategies or providing favorable terms and conditions for specific equipment leasing or land purchase.  No, they demonstrate the expertise by asking questions.

Prospect continues:  At this point you can assume a prospect will react one of two ways:

1.     They will pick one of the three items or,

2.     They will share with you another one that happens to be top of mind.

A strong qualifier/ value seller will weave into the conversation questions, comments, stories analogies and metaphors that tie into the problem the prospect identified. It is critical that you become awesome at story telling because story telling leads to right brain – emotional – thinking. And that is the side of the brain that makes decisions. The framework for the discussion would follow a planned script rather than a canned script.  It might look something like this.

Prospect saysMy biggest concern is making sure my business is sustainable and scalable. If I don’t do that, 1 or 2 things will happen. We’ll either go out of business or get bought by someone bigger and I’ll be working for someone else.


  • Tell me more about that.
  • How long have you thought about that, or how long has this been going on?
  • Is that a problem?  Why?
  • What have you done to try to fix it in the past?
  • I know you have a banker, what have they done, what have other advisors attempted to do to address this.
  • Let me ask you a question:  When they suggested a solution that would do A, B and C.  What happened?  (You are counting on an answer that sounds something like):

Prospect:  No one has brought something like that to my attention.

Tony:  I wonder why?

Key take away: When you ask, “I wonder why”, the prospect will be wondering the same thing. This, is what Randy Schwantz calls creating a wedge.

This dialog would last probably 20 to 30 minutes of the prospect sharing experiences that have or have not happened because of the current relationship.  This would eventually lead an elite salesperson asking this question:

Tony: Suppose there was a solution, suppose we could do for you what I’ve done for others in this situation? What would happen next?

Key take aways:

  • STOP selling VALUE.
  • START gaining clarity on what your target market VALUES.
  • Learn how to start the conversation so that your prospect talks instead of you.
  • Have a framework for your dialog that starts with a question, provides accurate possible answers, and then allows for a framework beginning with, so that it starts with “tell me more about that”, and ends with “suppose there was a solution”.

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    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


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