Great value propositions are essential if you want to prospect effectively and win more customers. Despite this, we’ve found that these propositions can be tricky for both marketers and sellers alike.
Often they simply aren’t sure what their value proposition is. This is common at companies that sell complex products and/or have multiple product lines/business units. Such companies could have hundreds of different propositions aimed at their different market segments. In other cases, marketing and sales teams don’t know their value propositions because their companies have never embarked on the proper process to formulate them.
This leads to an unfortunate situation where salespeople and marketers, when asked to define their propositions, start spewing jargon and empty words (for example: “quality” or “state-of-the-art”) that describe what their product is and/or what it does in generic and meaningless terms. In doing so, they miss the chance to generate genuine interest and curiosity on the part of the prospect or customer.
Understanding Your Value Proposition
We’ve worked with countless clients to correct this problem. We start by posing three basic questions.
- What business problems do you help your customer solve?
- What impact does that have on the customer’s business, and in what area?
- How can you quantify that impact in dollars and cents (or your currency of choice)?
The answers to these questions can help anyone get closer to crafting a statement that revolves around the value they provide (in terms the customer will care about) rather than a flat description of how their offering works or what it is.
For example, our value proposition is simply stated as, “Our value selling software platform helps our clients to capture more leads and convert leads into sales at a higher rate and faster by focusing on economic value.” Note that we don’t mention the products themselves, much less their features or the technical aspects of how they function.
Another way to identify value is to work forward from features. In other words, a product feature should be designed to create a benefit; and that benefit needs to deliver business impact (measured in currency) to be valuable to a customer. That’s where value lies. The key is to push beyond the benefit to articulate what value it provides to the customer.
For example, one of our customers is a software enterprise content-management solution provider. One of the benefits of their product is increased productivity among hospital employees. Those employees use the software to digitize tasks that otherwise would have to be done with paper, by hand. We helped them refine their value proposition to focus on:
- Labor savings across various categories of hospital employees, including clinical labor and operations labor
- Cost savings from document storage, office supplies, and other third party software
- Increase in revenue from better billing processes and happier customers
A salesperson for our client might now say, “Mr. Customer, at your hospital you have 500 employees, and our software will save 40 percent of their time, which would be worth over $15 million to you.”
This is a value-based statement, and it has a much different impact on a customer than a statement that describes features. If you call a prospect and say, “We are an enterprise content-management solution that improves workflow in your organization,” that conveys nothing of your value. A much better statement would be: “Our customers similar to you have seen $5 million in reduced production costs.”
This type of value statement will be much more likely to turn the head of a high-level decision maker or member of the financial team (who will likely be granting budget approval to invest in your solution).
Remember, the customer cares about how your offering is going to impact his business, either in terms of saving money, or generating more money. That is one of the best things you can do to generate interest in your offering and increase your likelihood of closing more deals.