Ultimately each customer -- and no one else -- decides what constitutes value.
When a customer assesses the value of a solution, there are two key determinants: business value and personal value.
The explicit discussion may be all about business value, but there is always a personal agenda.
Explicit business value is about either reducing cost or increasing revenues, or both.
Business value is never about product features or capabilities; it is about how those features and capabilities can improve the business so it makes money or saves money.
When a sales person attempts to express value by listing an impressive array of features and functions (the "spray and pray" approach), the sale is unlikely to go anywhere fast.
Features must be linked to a desired business benefit, and it is the sales person's responsibility to help the customer connect the dots by explicitly linking the features and functions to the business benefits.
While business benefits are usually identifiable in terms of dollars, there are always non-financial components to any decision, and they are often individual and personal in nature.
Understanding the personal agenda is often the key to a successful sale.
While the stated reason behind a purchasing decision will almost always be a straightforward business benefit, the real (hidden) factor that clinches the sale might well be something more personal.
The buyer, for example, may be looking for a promotion, may have annual bonus dependent on resolving an issue, may be trying to ease pressure from above, or even be trying to build a new organization.
These personal drivers present two challenges: discovering the information and using the intelligence effectively.
To find out what is on your customer's personal agenda, you must build a trusting relationship and listen.
As a sales person, if you can't present business value, you are really only presenting cost and pretending that the value is at least as big as the cost.
It is better not to waste the customer's time.