January 09, 2020
By Laura Fredericks

There is a lot of noise in the sales world. Prospects receive (and delete) hundreds of emails per day, ignore countless calls, and put gatekeepers between sales reps and themselves so that they don’t need to hear yet another pitch.

But high-quality sales interactions — as defined by the customer — feel different. There is silence as a salesperson listens. There are a few well-considered pieces of content and information, rather than a barrage. There is a trusted relationship with a single advisor, rather than a checklist or script with a team of automatons.

With value-based selling, customers can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on reaching their own goals. And you’re here to help them. Here we explore how you can grow your hotel's group event business using value-based selling and pricing.

What is value-based selling for properties?

Value-based selling looks at the sale from the perspective of the customer, focusing on providing benefits and value throughout the sales process. You serve as a trusted guide in this process, helping the customer find the right solution for their unique needs. You’re essentially turning the trope of the “pushy salesperson” on its head, providing a better experience and better outcomes for both you and the prospect.

Why is value selling so important?

Value-based selling focuses on selling an outcome, not a product. From a business perspective, this means you are speaking to customers about their challenges in their own terms, meeting them where they are, and helping them achieve their goals. By communicating and providing value at every step in the process, you are helping prospects sell your solution to their decision makers, ensuring that the solution is a true success, and opening up opportunities for future business and referrals.

When a hotel salesperson uses value selling techniques to identify the needs of the customer and highlight how those needs are met by their solution, the customer becomes more invested in acquiring that solution. When a customer is invested in acquiring a solution, that customer is much less likely to allow negotiations to become stuck or fall through. 

Hotel by the water

Start using a value-based selling approach with these keys to success:

1. Research the industry and company to understand the big picture. 

You can only communicate value if you know how your customer thinks. Go beyond your typical prospect research and learn about your customer’s industry, trends, and recent company news. All of these factors will affect how they travel through the sales process.

Bring value to every sale with better group insights

2. Research the customer’s past roles to understand their perspective. 

A quick Linkedin search will give you a good idea of the prospect’s history, and will give you a better idea of what they value.

Is the prospect new to the job? They may require more education about the process and solution, or may need a quick win to impress the new boss. Is this a second career for the prospect? Maybe you can use the perspective of their prior role to inform your sales pitch.

Anything you can find out will help you to better communicate value and craft the right solution for your prospect.

3. Use your CRM to understand the history of the relationship.

Check your hotel’s CRM for any notes about the prospect, their company, or past sales interactions. This will give you a good idea of what situation you’re jumping into, and will highlight any red flags or potential sticking points before they come up in real time.

4. Organize your sales process with the customer in mind.

While we’re on the subject of CRMs, make sure yours is organized from the perspective of your buyers. Instead of identifying steps in your selling process and organizing your CRM around them, identify the steps of your buyer’s journey and use those to organize your CRM system. This will help ensure that your sales activities, collateral, and content are designed to move the prospect through the buyer’s journey while providing value at each step.

5. Build trust early in the process. 

You can only serve as a trusted guide if you have first earned a prospect’s trust. Build rapport by talking about common connections, empathizing with pain points, and listening to whatever the prospect wants to talk about. You’ll have time to direct the conversation later — at the beginning just focus on being present.

6. Use the CLOSE methodology to tell powerful stories. 

Many sales professionals use the CLOSE methodology to enhance their storytelling and keep the focus on the customer. By following the steps in order you will naturally start conversations with customer needs and challenges, rather than your property’s features and solutions. The steps to CLOSE are:

  • Challenge. What customer pain points have you identified?
  • Loss. What are the customer’s challenges going to cost them, if left unaddressed?
  • Opportunity. What is the value of addressing the pain point? (This is where value-based pricing comes in, more on that later.)
  • Solution. What tailored solution is right for this customer?
  • Evidence. How will the customer define success in solving their problem?

7. Listen for product positioning cues.

If you give them space, your prospects will tell you the most effective way to sell to them. During your conversations, listen for clues about what your prospect considers important. You may discover a pain point related to this year’s budget, but if the prospect keeps coming back to how hard last year’s event was to plan then you’ve found a bigger pain point for that customer. You now know that you need to position all of your differentiators and value in terms of ease and time savings.

Rather than a broad description of all that you offer, you’ll get more traction by highlighting the benefits that are most relevant to successfully addressing each hotel customer’s pain points. Just remember that you need to clearly explain how you deliver unique and relevant value to every member of the decision-making team.

Showing value in every sale is easy with the right tools

8. Seek to educate and become a trusted resource.

No matter how long your prospect has been in their role, there is always something new they can learn. Focus on educating and informing, rather than selling, and become a go-to resource for information. This builds trust with your prospect, gives you opportunities to demonstrate value, and provides proof that you have the expertise to execute on their vision.

9. Help prospects win.

Act as a consultant and guide during the sales process, working with your prospect to identify and solve challenges. Share fresh ideas and strategies that can help prospects improve their competitive positioning, make their event better than last year’s, or provide greater ROI than a previous solution. Provide stories and examples to illustrate your points, and keep in mind that if you find the right solution for your customer they will keep coming back for more.

10. Customize your message with a video of your differentiators. 

Google reports that 70% of B2B buyers watch videos at some point on their path to purchase, and nearly half of B2B researchers are viewing 30 minutes or more of B2B-related videos during their research process. With so many prospects turning to video, you need to be producing content that helps them learn about, compare, and research your value for overcoming their challenges.

11. Find ways to add value at every stage of the sales process.

You should be constantly on the alert for ways to add value, educate, inform, and help your customers grow. This could be in the form of educational resources and materials that you provide, custom mockups for their event, ROI calculators, and other sales collateral. But it could also be as simple as leaving extra time at the end of each meeting to answer their questions, or sharing helpful articles even when you’re not in an active sales cycle.

Small steps that show you care about your prospects don’t take much of your time, and will ultimately pay dividends with strong lasting relationships. 

Beautiful hotel boardwalk overlooking water

Bring value-based selling into your pricing strategy with these principles: 

12. Price for just one segment at a time. 

Value-based pricing depends on understanding how features stack up within a customer segment. If you try to generalize beyond one customer segment you will lose all of the tailoring and nuance that this pricing strategy provides. You can always focus in further, even getting down to the level of pricing for just one (large, strategic) customer, but stay away from trying to turn segment pricing into a one-size-fits-all price.

13. Compare directly with the next best alternative. 

Value-based pricing depends on asking yourself, “what would my customer buy if my property was unavailable?” Without a good answer to this you won’t be able to effectively determine your pricing with this methodology.

14. Understand your differentiators and how valuable they are to the segment. 

Does your meeting space offer an outdoor breakout area? Faster WiFi? Better A/V equipment? Whatever makes you special, you should know how those benefits stack up for your customers.

15. Don’t try to find a price for every feature you provide. 

Features that you share with your closest competitor, such as free WiFi, space for 20 people, and A/V setup, are already included in that competitor’s price. You only need to find the value of your differentiators and add them on.

16. Don’t include a dollar figure for “brand value” in your calculations. 

You want to focus on differentiators that can be clearly translated into dollars. “Free airport transportation” translates easily into money and time saved for your customers, while “150 years of service” doesn’t have a clear dollar figure to attach to it. By focusing on the value you can provide, you will be better aligned with their wants and needs.

Want to know even more about selling for hotels?

What are the types of selling?

The types of inside selling are transactional (answering questions that are asked), feature selling (selling on the specific tools you have), value selling (selling on how those tools solve the customers' problems), and consultative selling (being a thought partner to help their business proactively).

What is solution selling methodology?

Solution selling is when the sales person focuses on the customers' problems and pain points, and addresses them with products and services solutions.

What sales methodology is best?

The best sales methodology depends on your product and your customers. Account-based selling, the challenger sale, value selling, and solution selling are some of the most successful methods.

Increase revenue with value-based selling and pricing:

Ready to create a custom experience for the groups you sell to? Check out all of the creative ways you can enhance your group check-in experience.

Group group sales with trusted solutions

Laura Fredericks author headshot

Laura Fredericks

Laura brings a decade of insight to improving marketing, as she has worked in technology since 2010. She has experience starting and scaling a business, driving customer marketing, and speaking at live events, including WeDC Fest 2018. She founded Describli and Paradigm Labs, and currently works with companies to improve their customer relationship management and content strategy.

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