Humans opt for an immediate, short-term gain over
a long-term gain. That is one reason buyers focus on
the price difference between you and the competition.
The difference between your price and the competitor’s
price is a short-term gain. The price difference is tangible
and real. Your long-term value-added, although more
impactful, is less tangible.
To get the buyer past this bias they need to think
long term. Ask the buyer questions that causes them
to think long term. A long-term question forces the
buyer to think about long-term outcomes and long-term
consequences. If a buyer thinks long term, price becomes
less of an issue.
Losses loom larger than gains. That means we would
rather not lose than win. When buyers are making
decisions, they focus more on what they are losing versus
what they are gaining. When buyers are acquiring your
solution, they are more likely to focus on what they are
giving up (their money) versus what they will gain from
When buyers focus on the money they are giving up,
turn their attention to the value they are also giving
up. When presenting your value-added solution, it’s
critical that the buyer understands what they give up
by not choosing your solution. In the new edition of
Value-Added Selling, we call this the pain proposition.
Emphasize that the greater cost is not the price paid, it’s
the cost of doing nothing and getting nothing.
In Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, he
mentions that people need to gain 1.5 to 2. 5 times
more than what they stand to lose. For example, if your
solution is $1,000 more than the competition, the buyer
will need to gain at least $1,500 to $2,500 in value. In
your presentations, detail how your solution will provide
1.5 to 2. 5 times what they are giving up.
Buyers like to stick with what they know. Buyers prefer
familiar suppliers and familiar solutions. When buyers are
presented with multiple options, that seem similar, they
usually stay with the incumbent supplies.
The status-quo bias also impacts buyers considering
a new technology, a new process, or a new way of
approaching or solving a problem. When selling a new
idea, present the familiarity of the new idea. In the new
Value-Added Selling, this is called finding a customer
parallel: identify the underlying concept you are selling,
demonstrate how the buyer is already using the concept
and then show the linkage with your solution. This
shows the buyer how something new is fundamentally
For example, let’s say you are selling the buyer on
kitting services. Your company would gather several parts
and pieces and kit them together to help the installer
complete installation more efficiently. The underlying
concept you are selling is not kitting, it’s efficiency. As
the salesperson, you would then find other ways this
customer has bought into efficiency. Maybe they adopted
a new CRM system to more efficiently manage customer
relationships. Maybe they invest in high-efficiency
equipment to run their business more efficiently.
Whatever the example, show how your kitting solution
is essentially the same. The buyer will then view this new
idea as the same. Your once foreign concept is now a
Buyers are not always rational decision makers. If
they were, they would choose to maximize all of their
decisions based on the long-term gain. But they don’t.
Don’t get too frustrated by it, learn from it. The only way
to overcome these biases is to first understand them.
Identify the biases impacting your customer’s decisions.
These decision-making biases represent a challenge
for some salespeople and an opportunity for other
salespeople. Embrace these techniques and learn how to
more effectively persuade the buyer to choose your value-added solution.
Paul Reilly is president of Tom Reilly Training and coauthor of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (
with ORS Nasco’s 3D’s
TO YOUR BUSINESS