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Subjective Value and What It Means to Sales
Blog / For Sales Pros / Feb 27, 2018 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 6330

Subjective Value and What It Means to Sales


Subjective value is the perceived value of your product or service in the mind of the prospect. According to one of the founding fathers of the Austrian School of Economics, Ludwig von Mises, “Value is not intrinsic, it is not in things. It is within us; it is the way in which man reacts to the conditions of his environment.”

Interestingly, an entire industry has been created out of the concept of subjective value: that of insight sales. The idea that product or service insights—and thereby subjective value—could be created in the minds of prospects or customers has resulted in enormous ventures such as HubSpot, Marketo and other marketing automation solutions.

Elements of Subjective Value

Marketing automation solutions provide a consistent flow of information to prospects and customers. The entire intention of this is to create that subjective value. Of course, subjective value is also created in many other ways such as direct salesperson contact.

Subjective value exists in the mind of the prospect or customer—as opposed to “objective” value which can be plainly seen, such as with a gold nugget.

An extreme example of subjective value can be demonstrated by what is known as the “diamond-water paradox.” The value of a diamond versus the value of water would totally depend on the subjective preference of the receiver. If someone were carrying a diamond around in New York City and became thirsty, it is highly unlikely he or she would be willing to trade that diamond for a bottle of water, as water is quite plentiful there and easy to come by. Place that same individual in the Gobi Desert, however, hundreds of miles from the nearest water source, and a purveyor of water might well gain that diamond in exchange for water. The subjective value of water for the holder of that diamond is quite high in that circumstance.

Bringing the concept closer to home: If your company sells database software, for example, that makes it incredibly easy for data to be ported from a legacy system into your system, that factor might mean everything to a prospect that has experienced nothing but grief in trying to port legacy data. In his or her mind—or in the minds of decision-makers at their company—that database feature is highly valued. For a company that doesn’t have a legacy system, though, and would be starting newly with your product, other database functionality would have a higher priority so the subjective value of the porting feature would mean less to them.

Data itself, today, has highly subjective value, depending on context. With the web and with data mining, there is an infinite amount of data available to everyone, for low to no cost. For most people and companies, though, most of that data is worthless as it’s not correct for that company.

I have a company called uptime that programs for World Check risk intelligence software, utilized by banks throughout the world. The data provided by World Check directly relates to money laundering, fraud and terrorism. It is incredibly valuable to banks. Without this software banks take incredible risks, as anyone listed with World Check cannot legally open a bank account. Hence it has a very high subjective value.

Use of Subjective Value in Commerce

Today many (or maybe even most) products and services are fiercely competitive, and it is only subjective value in marketing that makes it possible for one to overtake the other. A prime example is automobile marketing. The SUV, from product to product, has nearly identical available features. In order for manufacturers to “position” their product above others in the prospect’s mind is to add subjective value. They add extra services, such as their own roadside repair. One manufacturer even adds their own concierge for booking of hotels, travel, or entertainment events.

This isn’t as true in my own industry, CRM, as they’re not as easy to compare. But because we design Pipeliner with these principles in mind, we have made excellent use of subjective value in Pipeliner.

Subjective Value and Pipeliner CRM

A salesperson uses subjective value very effectively within Pipeliner. A salesperson’s subjective value of a prospect or customer is expressed within Pipeliner’s graphical Buying Center and Org Chart. With these tools a sales team can accurately express both the subjective and objective value of each person within a prospect or customer organization. They are graphically shown as to how they relate to each other, both in hierarchy and as to how they influence a sale. Each person is labeled as a naysayer, a budget holder, a decision maker, and influencer, and so on.

Pipeliner is actually the only CRM in the world that contains, right out of the box, the correlation between the Org Chart, the account, the contacts and the Buying Center within the opportunity. Why do we believe this is important? Because the more complex the offering, the more high-end the product or service, the more important are relationships. In higher-end opportunities, it’s never one person who makes the buying decision–it’s a team. And there’s nothing more subjective than a team.

Subjective value is yet another economic principle that has high applicability to sales forces throughout the world. Fully understand it and increase the number of deals your company pulls through the door.

Pipeliner CRM empowers salespeople to fully communicate subjective value. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

About Author

CEO and partner of and the uptime ITechnologies, which I founded in 1994 and has since played a significant role in the development of the IT-environment. pipeliner is the most innovative sales CRM management solution on the market. Pipeliner was designed by sales professionals for sales professionals and helps close the gap between the requirements of C-level executives for transparency and the day-to-day operational needs of field and inside sales. I am also the founder and Initiator of the independent economic platform GO-AHEAD!, which orientates itself on the principles of a free marketplace in terms of liberal and social responsibility. Connecting people, the trust of business leadership in terms of values such as freedom, self-responsibility, and entrepreneurial spirit, and strengthening their awareness in order to create a dynamic boost within the economy triggered through spontaneity, all stand for the initial ideas surrounding GO-AHEAD! I studied in Los Angeles and Vienna and received my Masters's Degree in 1994. I am married and have 3 children My Specialties are in: Sales Management, Sales CRM Software, CRM Cloud Solutions, SAAS, Business Strategy, Software Development, "Pipeline Management", Social responsibility, outbound sales, b2b sales, inside sales, sales strategy, lead generation, sales process, entrepreneurship, coaching, mentoring, speaker, opportunity management, lead management, Austrian School of Economics

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