On Value Subtractors

There is no greater value subtractor than a salesperson who is unprepared to create value through the buying cycle. Being unprepared is a subtractor. An absence of chops (read business acumen and situational knowledge) is an enormous subtractor. Without the ability to really help your clients, you are stealing their time.

A self-orientation subtracts value, even if you have the ability to create value through the process and have an unassailable value proposition. My good friend, Charlie Green, has a framework for trust in which you divide trust by your self-orientation. If you are focused on what you gain, you subtract value. If you have commission breath (meaning that you talk about your personal gain), you are seriously subtracting value.

Lacking a process or an inability to follow a reasonably decent sales process is a value subtractor. For all of the talk about the buyer’s process, you never hear any buyer outside of professional buyers, purchasing agents, or CFO’s mention it. That’s because part of the value you create for your dream clients in helping them with the path from the status quo to the better future you are working towards together. Subtraction occurs when you have no discernible process, you don’t know what you need, why you need it, and how it helps your client.

Trying to make selling easy is a subtractor. If you try to make selling easy by competing on price instead of helping your dream client justify the real investment they need to make, you subtract value. You subtract value when you try to make winning easy by sticking with your “power sponsor” or “champion” instead of branching out and building consensus within their organization.

Trying to claim value before creating value is a showstopper. You have to get value creation and claiming in precisely the right order. Subtracting from zero is overdrawing an account.

Create value. Don’t subtract from it.


What subtracts from your value proposition?

What do salespeople do that subtracts from their own value proposition?

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This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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