Value-oriented Thinking: How You Can Give Your Customers What They Really Want

Senior consultant

| 7 minutes

Let’s play a little game. Imagine that you’ve found a magic lamp and inside it – a genie. Like in all great fairy tales, your genie decides to grant you a single, special wish. It could be anything your heart desires. What would it be? 

Take a moment and think about it.

Why are we playing this game? Good question!

I find that imagining scenarios like this one are great ways to kick off consultation processes. As such, it is one I ask the managers with whom I meet on a regular basis. 

So, what would you wish for?


Now, I’m sure you can guess what some of those managers might have answered. For the most part, they tend to fall into three of the following categories: 

Answer 1 – I would wish for lots of money

Answer 2 – I’d wish for luxury transportation, such as a sports car, yacht, or private jet

Answer 3 – I’d wish to tour the world with the people I love most

Keeping in mind that the end-goal or desired outcome of being granted any wish is happiness and wellbeing, do you think that granting the common wishes mentioned above could ever fully achieve this goal?

I think not.

A means to an end

Happiness from singular things or even experiences is fleeting. To achieve lasting satisfaction, additional measures must always be taken. Take the person granted Wish #1 for example, the guy that asked to be surrounded by riches. Would the mere possession of money make him happy? Highly unlikely. He will more likely feel enticed to spend it but torn by the fact that as soon as the bills and coins leave his hands, they are gone forever. When asked what the possession of money would give him, he and most other people are wont to say that they would buy a big house, a new 100-inch TV, or other big-ticket items. 

Should he save, or should he spend? The stress of it all could very well be his undoing, when what he really wanted in the first place was a resource capable of providing him with what he really wants: things and comfort.

The same goes for the person who asked for the sports car (unless it is a specific car that has been his childhood dream). The car serves as a status symbol, enabling him to show up to wherever it is he wants to go in style and make an entrance. It can also be a statement of power, embodied by the ability to drive really fast. Again, the “wisher” is not wishing for an outcome but asks for a solution to achieve an unspecified end-goal. 

It may sound surprising but most of the answers to my little game fall in this solution category. People wish for a means to an end, not the end itself.


What people really want

To sum this short exercise, people often find it hard to articulate what they really want in life. Instead of describing the end-goal or value they desire, they turn to concrete terms or physical objects that can help them get there on their own, such as asking for money instead of asking for the things they will buy with that money). 

Let’s wake up from our little reverie. Why is this exercise so important? Why do I like using it with my managers? The answer is simple: if you’re in sales or work as a service provider, you must understand that you are the Genie and it is you job to fulfill your customers’ real wishes, by providing them with value – not just the middle-of-the-road wishes with which you’re approached!

Let’s talk value. REAL value. And let’s orient all of our business thinking around it.

In today’s world, fulfilling wishes or providing the correct value is more important than ever! Sales used to be transactional, but has since shifted to be more access based, to enable customers to gain better value for their money – exactly what we are talking about!

Take Microsoft as an example. Let’s say that I sold you Microsoft Office software a few years ago. This meant that at the time of the sale, Microsoft received all the money from the sale and you, the buyer, received ownership of a copy of their software. We then went our separate ways until, lo and behold, Microsoft puts out a new, more innovative version of their software, making the version in your possession more-or-less obsolete. To keep up  with the times, you would need to keep buying new versions, every time they are released. It is a vicious cycle in which you are constantly spending hefty lump sums, and the value of your purchase is fleeting. 

Frustrating, isn’t it?

Times have changed. Now when you purchase Microsoft Office, you buy access or a subscription, not ownership.  Now you pay a (lower) monthly fee, and Microsoft has to work extra hard to provide you with continuous value and upgrades to make those payments worth your while, so you don’t leave them for another provider. In fact, if you do not see the value in their offering within two months and decide to bounce, Microsoft probably did not recoup any of their investment from your payments. 

The take-home message

To retain your users over time, you must deliver the value they need from a product or service like the one you have on offer. Fail to fulfill and you run the risk that they’ll cancel their subscription and head over to your competition.

But how?

To provide value, you must understand your customers’ wishes or end-goals, even if what they’re asking you for is really just a means to that end, like in the example with the genie.


How Vayomar can help

At Vayomar, we have developed a methodology that is designed to solve this exact issue. We call it “value-oriented communication, “a model that enables us to start seeing the world through the eyes of our customers and their desired goals – and help you change your perspective as well.

The model is comprised of four building blocks, each representing a different area of focus:

  1. Value (desired outcome) – Discovering the end-goal they are trying to achieve.
  2. Obstacles – What prevents them from achieving their end goals? 
  3. Solutions – Different methods that can overcome any obstacle, and help you provide real value.
  4. Resources – What you need to execute your chosen solution. 

For every interaction with our customers, we try to categorize, each raised “request” or “need” so that they fall into one of the model’s four building blocks.  If what we learn isn’t an end-goal, it is our job to keep asking highly-focused questions until the bigger picture becomes clear.

At Vayomar, we work with many large, international IT companies whose customers tend to ask for the automation of different process they use. The easiest thing for those IT companies to do is simply supply what their customers demand.  However, our value model helps us help them understand that automation is a Solution, a means to their end. Do they need automation to speed up a process? Or maybe to eliminate human error? What is the desired outcome?

Understanding when an ask is a means versus when one is an end-goal can promote the successful completion of any project and ensure that the customer is truly happy. Doing so is the key to promoting real, long-term value that encourages retention and a better bottom line. After all, the information your receive will shape the solution you ultimately provide.

Want to give more customers what they really want? Contact us to learn how we can help you achieve value-oriented thinking today!

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Yaron Zukerman Chayat

Sometimes, when dealing with obstacles, you just hit a wall and don’t know to climb over it. This is where I see an opportunity to think outside the box, get creative and try out different approaches.

This sort of process is exactly what I love about my work at Vayomar, I meet a lot of companies and get a glimpse at their realties and challenges. As consultants, we are not just teaching Vayomar’s methodologies, we are working on their implementation in real-life scenarios.

It’s extremely satisfying to see people applying new ways of thinking and getting amazing results. Obviously, I can’t share examples from clients, but I can from my own personal experience.

Some time after the foundation of Vayomar, I co-founded a company that developed renewable energy projects and traded emission reductions, according to the Kyoto protocol.

One of the challenges we faced was the regulation of the ministry of environmental protection. The regulation was meant to mitigate environmental hazards, but it also blocked out projects.

Using a Vayomar methodology, Value oriented communication, I was able to demonstrate that our projects, while banned by regulation will actually promote the standards the ministry was trying to achieve.

This caused the ministry to change the regulation and allow a successful implementation of the projects.

Since then, I have taught and helped many companies in adopting Value orientation and other methodologies with great results.

My recommendations:

§ Learn to play a musical instrument, it’s fun and relaxing. (No, you are not too old. Take it from someone that got into guitar very late.)

My reading recommendations:

§ Exponential Organizations, by Salim Ismail.

§ Dune, by Frank Herbert