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Home   >Collaboration 101

What is Value Based Selling?

November 20, 2023

When people think about sales, they often recall their experiences as consumers or iconic portrayals of salespeople they’ve seen in television and movies like Glengarry Glen Ross, Mad Men, or The Office, to name a few. These experiences and cultural references typically evoke images of straightforward transactions and direct marketing techniques used in consumer purchases.

However, in the realm of B2B sales, the landscape is quite different. Unlike the straightforward transactions depicted in popular media, organizations participate in what academics have called: considered purchases, deliberate buying, or high-involvement buying decisions. This kind of buying is a much more strategic process characterized by thorough research, evaluation, and detailed planning.

Value based selling is a value delivery approach that aligns an organization’s presales, sales, and customer success teams with the way their customers research, evaluate, purchase, and consume solutions. For customer-facing teams, a critical success factor in VBS is understanding and demonstrating how a product or service meets a customer’s unique business needs and objectives. 

In this article, we'll explore the fundamentals of VBS and investigate how underlooked technologies, such as external collaboration tools, can empower sales teams to achieve greater success with value based selling.

What is Value Based Selling (VBS)?

Value based selling, or VBS, is an approach that focuses on understanding and reinforcing how the product or service meets a customer's requirements and creates value for the customer.  This approach differs from traditional selling techniques that might focus primarily on the features or specifications of the product. Here are some key aspects of VBS:

  1. Understanding Customer Needs: The core is to understand the customer's business, their challenges, and their goals. Salespeople spend time researching the customer and their industry to tailor their pitch to the specific needs and pain points of the customer. The most successful VBS teams will collaborate with their customers or prospects to mutually author documents that outline key customer requirements.
  2. Communicating Value: Instead of just listing the features of a product or service, VBS involves explaining how these features translate into real benefits for the customer. This might include how the product can increase efficiency, reduce costs, improve quality, or address a specific challenge the customer is facing.  Frequently 
  3. Building Relationships: This approach relies heavily on building a strong, consultative relationship with the customer. Salespeople act as trusted advisors, offering insights and solutions that are in the best interest of the customer rather than just trying to make a quick sale. Successful VBS  
  4. Customizing/Configuring/Tailoring Solutions: There's often a focus on customizing or tailoring solutions to fit the unique needs of each customer. This might involve adjusting a product or service or combining different products and services into a comprehensive package.
  5. Quantifying Value: A key part of this strategy is to quantify the value that the product or service brings. This might involve demonstrating a return on investment (ROI), showing how the product will pay for itself over time, or providing case studies and examples of how similar customers have benefited.
  6. Long-term Focus: Generally focused on long-term relationships and customer satisfaction rather than just making individual sales. This approach aims to create loyal customers who will return for repeat business and refer others.
  7. Feedback and Adaptation: Regular feedback is sought from customers to ensure that the value promised is being delivered. This information is used to continually adapt and improve the product, service, and sales approach.
  8. Educational Approach: Salespeople using this method often focus on educating customers about their products or services and the industry as a whole, helping customers make informed decisions.

Value based selling is particularly effective in industries where products or services are complex, and highly customizable or where the purchasing decision has significant financial implications for the customer. It's a strategic approach that requires a deep understanding of both the product and the customer and a commitment to building long-term customer relationships.

When to Use Value Based Selling?

Not every sales situation calls for value based selling. In fact, VBS is most effective in several key scenarios:

  • Complex or High-Value Products/Services: When the products or services in question are complex, require customization, or represent a significant financial investment. This is typical in industries like technology, manufacturing, or specialized professional services. It’s worth noting that the sophistication of the problems and solutions is one big reason why there is substantial documentation throughout the entire process. 
  • Extended Sales Cycles: Organizations often undergo lengthy deliberation and approval processes, especially for significant purchases. VBS is suitable in these scenarios, offering ample opportunity for building relationships and understanding client needs. The length of the sales process also means that new members are added/removed from the buying team on an as-needed basis.  It’s another reason why VBS processes tend to be document-rich; those newly added team members need to be brought up to speed. 
  • Knowledge-Driven Purchases: In cases where the buyer is looking not just for a product but for expertise and advice. This occurs in sectors where products are technical or where the industry landscape is rapidly evolving. Buyer education is a key part of the VBS process, so much so that analysts have described the new B2B sales process as “buyer enablement,” i.e., educating your buyer so that they can sell for your team internally.  
  • Solution-Focused Sales: Where the focus is on solving specific business problems or challenges rather than just selling a product. This requires a deep understanding of the customer’s business and the ability to tailor solutions accordingly.
  • Relationship-Oriented Business Environments: In industries where building long-term customer relationships is crucial, such as in enterprise solutions or high-end B2B services. Here, the emphasis is on trust, reliability, and ongoing service.
  • ROI-Sensitive Purchases: In situations where customers are particularly concerned with the return on their investment, be it through cost savings, efficiency improvements, or other measurable outcomes.

In these scenarios, VBS is not just a technique but a strategic approach, focusing on understanding and aligning with the customer's broader business objectives, delivering tangible value, and establishing a foundation for long-term partnership.

What Does the Value Based Selling Methodology Look Like?

Sales methodologies and CRM solutions prescribe very detailed, complex processes for sales teams. Teams can get so bogged down in the mechanics that they lose sight of the overall objective.  To address this, rather than proposing four-, seven-, or ten-step sales processes, here’s our view of the entire selling process mapped to the traditional customer journey or customer activity lifecycle (awareness, consideration, purchase, retention). 

Assuming that the customer (or prospect) is already aware of your solution–which is why they are engaging with your sales team in the first place!- VBS aligns neatly with the remaining steps in the customer lifecycle: Consideration, Purchase, and Retention. We elected for this alignment because it helps keep the customer front and center. 

Here’s how the process might unfold across each of the three main phases:

1. Presales Phase: Engaging and Understanding

In this phase, which corresponds with the consideration stage of the customer lifecycle, the sales team's primary focus is to engage with the customer to gain a deep understanding of their business environment, challenges, and specific needs. This involves initial contact, where the team establishes rapport and trust, followed by a detailed discovery process. The goal here is to gather enough information to develop a solution that precisely addresses the customer's requirements. Key activities include preparing needs assessment reports and drafting preliminary solution overviews. Risk management at this stage involves ensuring the right customer fit and maintaining a continuous feedback loop to align closely with the customer's objectives.


To understand the customer's specific needs and challenges and develop a tailored solution that aligns with these requirements.

Key Activities:

  • Initial Customer Engagement: Establish contact and initiate discussions to understand the customer's business environment and key challenges.
  • Needs Assessment and Discovery: Conduct detailed sessions to uncover the customer's specific needs, pain points, and objectives.
  • Solution Development: Develop a customized solution based on the insights gathered during the discovery process.

Key Documents:

  • Needs Assessment Reports: Documents that capture the detailed findings from the discovery sessions, including customer challenges, goals, and requirements.
  • Solution Overview Drafts: Preliminary outlines or concepts of the proposed solution shared with the customer to ensure alignment and gather feedback.
  • Proof of Concept Plan: A plan for a Proof of Concept or pilot project, especially for technical products, detailing how the proposed solution will be tested in the customer’s environment to demonstrate its effectiveness, feasibility, and requirements fit.

Risk Management & Mitigation:

  • Customer Qualification: Ensure that the customer's needs and business objectives are well-aligned with the solution offered to minimize the risk of misalignment.
  • Continuous Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback mechanism during the needs assessment to quickly identify and address misunderstandings or misalignments.
TakeTurns helps your sales teams close quicker by improving how the collaborate with your prospects and customers

2. Proposal Phase: Tailoring and Finalizing

Aligned with the Purchase stage, the sales team now shifts to formalizing the customer’s needs into a comprehensive proposal. This phase involves a collaborative effort to develop a proposal that details the tailored solution, its benefits, and the expected value. The team then engages in discussions with the customer, inviting feedback to refine the offering. Negotiation skills come into play as the team works towards finalizing the terms of the agreement. The creation of formal proposal documents and the preparation of draft contracts or agreements are crucial. Managing risks in this phase includes clear communication of terms and employing flexible negotiation strategies to ensure a successful agreement.


To formalize the customer's requirements into a concrete proposal and reach an agreement that meets both parties' needs.

Key Activities:

  • Proposal Development: Prepare a comprehensive proposal that addresses the customer's needs, outlines the solution, and details the expected value.
  • Customer Review and Feedback: Share the proposal with the customer for review, inviting feedback and discussions to refine the offering.
  • Negotiation and Agreement Finalization: Engage in negotiations to finalize terms and reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Key Documents:

  • Formal Proposal Documents: Comprehensive proposals that detail the solution, pricing, benefits, and ROI, tailored to the customer’s specific situation.
  • Contracts/Agreements for Review: Draft contracts or agreements shared with the customer, outlining the terms of the partnership, for negotiation and finalization.

Risk Management & Mitigation:

  • Clear Communication of Terms: Ensure that all terms, conditions, and expectations are transparent and well-understood to avoid future disputes.
  • Flexible Negotiation Strategies: Be prepared with alternative solutions or concessions to keep negotiations on track and prevent deal breakdowns.

3. Post-Sales Phase: Implementing and Nurturing

Once the sale is made, the focus for the sales team in the Post-Sales Phase, corresponding to the Retention stage, is on ensuring a smooth implementation and fostering a long-term relationship. In most organizations, the customer relationship transfers from sales to customer success, professional services, or account management. This new team oversees the rollout of the solution, ensuring it meets the agreed specifications and customer expectations. Concurrently, they provide training and support to facilitate effective use of the solution. Regular performance monitoring and maintaining open communication lines are essential to nurture the ongoing relationship and identify additional opportunities for growth. The team prepares detailed implementation plans, training materials, and performance reports. Risk management in this phase involves closely monitoring the implementation process, conducting regular performance reviews, and building a strong, ongoing relationship with the customer. It’s worth noting that success in this phase reduces churn and can help transform customers into advocates or references that help support the sales teams in presales.  


To effectively implement the solution, ensure customer satisfaction, and foster a long-term relationship for ongoing business growth.

Key Activities:

  • Implementation and Onboarding: Oversee the rollout of the solution, ensuring it is implemented smoothly and meets the customer's needs.
  • Training and Support: Provide the necessary training and support to the customer for effective use of the solution.
  • Performance Monitoring and Relationship Management: Regularly assess solution performance and maintain ongoing communication with the customer to nurture the relationship and identify additional opportunities.

Key Documents:

  • Implementation Plans: Detailed roadmaps outlining the steps for deploying the solution, often requiring customer collaboration for customization and approval.
  • Training Materials and User Guides: Tailored instructional materials and guides developed in conjunction with the customer to ensure they address specific user needs and scenarios.
  • Performance and Satisfaction Reports: Regular reports and assessments prepared for the customer, reflecting on the performance of the solution and capturing customer feedback for continuous improvement.

Risk Management & Mitigation:

  • Implementation Oversight: Closely monitor the implementation process to quickly address any issues that arise.
  • Regular Performance Reviews: Conduct regular check-ins with the customer to assess satisfaction and address potential issues proactively.
  • Ongoing Relationship Building: Maintain a strong relationship with the customer to understand evolving needs and adjust the solution as necessary.

Gaps in the Sales Technology Stack 

As we can see from the methodology above, successful value based selling depends on the depth and quality of customer interactions in every phase. In each phase, we’ve listed documents that the team would jointly author with their customer. 

Those mutually authored documents are pivotal in establishing and reinforcing the shared understanding between the sales team and the customer, ensuring that the proposed solutions are in perfect alignment with the customer's requirements. That agreement is what the proposals and contracts are built upon. Those documents enable the customer to sell and advocate internally. That information is used by the post-sales teams to ensure delivery meets the mark.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of that shared understanding found in these documents. Without it, sales pursuits are unlikely to be successful, and even if one manages to close, the customers are unlikely to be satisfied or referencable.  

It’s hard to overstate the importance of that shared understanding found in these documents. Without it, sales pursuits are unlikely to be successful, and even if one manages to close, the customers are unlikely to be satisfied or referencable.  

However, when we look at the typical “Sales Tech Stack” teams utilize, we don’t see much that supports teams as they pursue better customer alignment. Consider the top ten technologies used by teams today:

  1. CRM Systems: Store customer data and track interactions 
  2. Sales Analytics and Reporting Tools: Focus on sales performance metrics 
  3. Lead Generation and Prospecting Tools: Identify potential leads
  4. Email Outreach Software: Designed for outreach and lead nurturing 
  5. Sales Automation Tools: Streamline tasks like scheduling and follow-ups
  6. Product Demo and Presentation Software: Showcase products, mostly from the point of view of the product company
  7. Quote and Proposal Management Tools: Help generate quotes and proposals … once you’ve proven value 
  8. Contract Management Software: Manages contracts 
  9. Sales Enablement Platforms: Helps customer-facing teams to learn their product’s capabilities and positioning
  10. Sales Forecasting Tools: Predict sales trends and revenue

All those aforementioned tools help market-facing teams with “what,” but do nothing to help teams uncover “why,” or “why on earth does this solution make sense for this customer."  These technologies play a role in the process but do not help teams as they seek to understand and map customer needs to the specific capabilities and benefits of a product. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that these tools distract from that all important job.  

Why Value Based Selling Teams Benefit From External Collaboration Tools

Today most teams are unaware of the gap in their sales technology (salestech) stack. In fact, collaboration with their customers and prospects on those all-important VBS documents is largely done in email.  The limitations of email in terms of version control, tracking complex conversation threads, and efficiently managing document collaboration are well-known. Those limitations lead to miscommunications and inefficiencies, adversely affecting both the sales process, the customer experience, and customer engagement.

That’s why it’s recommended that teams looking for success with value based selling techniques examine external collaboration tools.  These tools are specifically tailored to meet the collaborative and customer-centric demands of value based selling. Successfully implemented, these tools can not just streamline the sales team's workflow but also enhance customer engagement and experience, and improve close rates. 

Here's a rundown of what an ideal external collaboration toolset should include:

1. Common Workspace for Customer Collaboration: This unified platform consolidates all activities, interactions, and documents related to a customer. It's an execution-focused workspace that supports document collaboration with customers. The workspace allows both team members and customers to access, revise, and discuss various documents in a shared environment.

2. Asynchronous Collaboration Capabilities: Considering that customers and your VBS team are not always in the same geography, and certainly not under the same governance structure, the external collaboration tool must support asynchronous collaboration. This functionality enables team members and customers to contribute and provide feedback at their convenience while keeping everyone informed of the latest updates and developments.  

3. Versioning, Transparency, and Accountability: A key feature of the workspace is robust version control for all documents. This allows for tracking changes, updates, or revisions, providing transparency by showing who made specific changes and when. It ensures accountability among all parties and facilitates a clear understanding of each document's evolution, which is crucial for maintaining precision and clarity in complex sales processes.

4. Integrated Communication Tools: Beyond document collaboration, the workspace should integrate asynchronous and real-time communication tools for comments, questions, or discussions. One critical requirement is to ensure that all discussions are recorded and accessible for all participants, this helps keep everyone on the same page.

5. Security and Data Protection: With sensitive customer information often involved, the platform must have strong security measures in place. This includes data encryption, secure access controls, and compliance with data protection regulations, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of all information.

6. Notifications and Automated Reminders: Automated notifications and reminders about document updates, deadlines, or required actions can keep the collaboration process efficient and on schedule.

7. Integration with CRM and Other Sales Tools: Ideally, thetool will have some method to tie the collaboration with the existing CRM record and other sales tools. This ensures that document-centric processes are tracked as part of the broader sales processes and customer data.

Adopting these advanced, integrated collaboration platforms represents a strategic shift from traditional email communication. This move is pivotal not only for improving internal efficiency but also for elevating the overall customer journey, which is indispensable for the success of the value based selling team.

Final thoughts

In summary, VBS stands out as a vital strategy in the B2B sales landscape, particularly due to its focus on understanding and delivering specific customer value. The effectiveness of this approach is deeply rooted in the quality of interactions and the depth of collaboration between the sales team and the customer. This necessitates a shift from traditional communication methods to more sophisticated external collaboration tools. These tools not only streamline the sales process but also enhance the overall customer experience, ensuring that solutions are not just sold but are perfectly aligned with the customer's needs and expectations. Embracing these tools is not just a step towards improving sales efficiency; it is a commitment to elevating the entire customer journey and achieving long-term success in Value Based Selling.


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