I know it might sound obvious, but what you do has value. No matter what you are selling, no matter who you are selling it to, you bring value just in how you diagnose the fit between the challenges your client faces and the solution you provide. Just because some of your prospects might not be a fit, it does not mean your solution doesn’t have any value.

Yet, many salespeople beg for business, hence sending a message that they do not believe in the value of what they can provide. That’s a message prospects are only too happy to accept, that perception of your value. Don’t help them.

You know all those sales people that just give stuff away? Many of them are in industries that have accepted that practice as the standard. If you’re giving away a free trial period, free estimates, free analysis, free session, then you might be telling customers a few things:

  • Those things (estimates, trials, etc) have no value.
  • You are desperate for business
  • You are not an equal in this conversation (begging mode)
  • You are NOT confident in the value of your product

Another sales trainer I follow recently posted on this topic and asked these questions:

Have you noticed sales professionals are the only people that give stuff away?

Go to the cinema tonight and tell the check out girl you’ll pay on the way out if you like the film.

Order Mcdonald’s and say you’ll pay only after you’ve eaten.

Book a flight and pay on arrival only.

Obviously some instances require some form of free or no upfront cost. But some industries have decided NOT to let the customers dictate how they will be sold, versus the company establishing how customers buy from them. They don’t let their value come into doubt. The mission of the interaction is to determine a fit in this specific instance, not to prove the service or product has value. The airlines are not willing to debate if there is value to get you from city A to city B. The movie theater assumes the value of the movie. They expect you to pay for it, even if you don’t like it.

They set the process for buying from them. They don’t allow you to set the process for selling to you.

You may think that your industry has always done it this way, or that clients would not do it differently. That is exactly what blockbuster thought when Netflix pitched them on taking movie rentals to an online streaming model. That thinking makes your industry ripe for disruption.

I’m not against giving something away, but always, always get something in return! The classic example of this is the restaurant model. I’m fine with a restaurant owner using discounts, as long as they get something for it. Free appetizer if you buy two entrees and a dessert is fine. The client has to commit to something to get something more. 20% off if you subscribe to our email newsletter. OK, fine. You’ve gained the ability to continually access that client with marketing messages in the future. The wrong way to do it is to have a sign out front that says “20% off today!”. You’re sending a message of desperation or that your product is overpriced to begin with. Want an example of a permanently lowered value perception industry? Auto sales. The continual bombardment of “$3000 instant rebate” or “Second Tuesday of the month” specials has created a world where no one accepts the value of the sticker price.

Get something, even if it’s not money in exchange for everything you give away. Protect your value!