Building a Future for Distributors and Dealers of Building Products

January/February 2005                                Volume 44,  Issue 1

Supplier Kow-How
         Advice for Your Business

A Formula for Success
Learning the Art of Selling Value-Added Products

by Art Ramey

The art of selling a value-added product requires a real passion, a desire to push the envelope, to go beyond just meeting the market needs by creating a new threshold, raising the bar and enjoying the challenge. Few of us inherited the instant success of upscale selling; it is a learned behavior driven again by the passion to rise above the norm. Some of the best motivators are individual and company income growth.

An Equation for Growth
Customers want to buy from, and salespeople want to work for, companies that will have the greatest positive impact on their future. The incentive for this is what you want to see happen. If you are the decision-maker in the organization there are several successful ways of accomplishing this. Here is one formula:
M + R + E + C + P = Success

1. M = Money
for profit growth. Set a standard reward rate and an over and above incentive rate for products that return a better margin or are designated for their long-term strategic value to the company.

2. R = Recognition
awards create another dimension for a salesperson’s visibility with peers, family and industry, and is the second piece of the formula. All good salespeople and managers are motivated by the challenge with monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual recognition timing.

3. E = Enhanced environment
will change the commodity selling to better value selling. The organizational culture must be created and maintained. Value-added culture starts with management and must travel through the organization. Then, consider the product—what makes it better than the others? What is the magic difference? Is it the material composition, performance or low cost with higher perceived value? The next step is the value-added strategy and product differences and communication to the entire company, and the market of the image and perception to be achieved. You, as a manager, must also instill the courage to create the culture and maintain the environment.

4. C = Creativity.
Your upscale product will mean different things to every potential buyer. Preplan for the prospect where the potential exists. How large is the market? What part of the market will you reach? What is the price and profit for the customer? How should promotion be accomplished? What will your selling style be? Try to assemble a list of questions with anticipated “no” responses from the customer and practice answering them with other salespeople and friends well in advance.

5. P = Patience.
The fact is, it takes longer to sell something where price alone is not the motivator. The first sales start with your (the seller’s) belief in your product and yourself. This may fit the title of “being real” to the prospect. I might not be a great comb or hairbrush customer, because I have a limited need for these products. However, I can, with patience and creativity, present the market need that exists with millions of other people. The buyer’s “no” should be taken as only a pause in the conversation. Building the value starts with building the benefits of your product, your company and yourself where it fits; have the profit and sales all wrapped up before introducing the price. 

Apologizing for the price says you need more experience and confidence, all of which work out if you are persistent and committed to the task. The buyers’ word “no” must be massaged. When does no mean no? Most no’s mean “I would buy the product if” … it costs less or if the decision maker thinks his company can sell it, or whether the boss can relate to it or see the potential.

Summing It Up
Give value-added selling your best shot, let the customer say yes or no—then deal with it. Without giving 100 percent, you’ll never know if you could have made the sale. 

Art Ramey is the executive vice president of sales, marketing and distribution of Royal Mouldings of Marion, Va.


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