Value Proposition: 6 essential need-to-knows

Man with megaphone

Now we all know rationally that nothing in life is easy and that a bit of blood, sweat and tears usually pays off with a good result. But as humans, secretly and emotionally we hope for (and are always on the look out for) the quick answer and the short-cut solution – the infamous ‘silver bullet’. The surge in interest in ‘value proposition’ suggests that we’re hopeful it’ll prove to be one of those silver bullets.

There isn’t an easy answer but we’ve put together the essential 6 things to help smooth your value proposition journey.

1. Create first, communicate second
We often find that there is confusion between creating your value proposition and then how you take it and communicate it during the selling process or through marketing channels.

In my experience, it’s absolutely critical to do the high-level creation part BEFORE attempting to communicate the value proposition to your customers and potential customers.  Doing it this way around makes the communication part, and therefore the selling part, so much easier. Suddenly we all become clear about the key messages.  They’re obvious, simple, clear and based on reality. One of the biggest problems we come across is good sales professionals doing their best to create value messages in the absence of any wider understanding of where the source of their company value lies.  Suddenly, the sales professional is forced to come up with a value proposition based on the latest opportunity – retrofitting their messages back into the rest of the organisation.  Hard work and almost impossible to achieve – I’ve seen many demoralised sales teams sweating this one.

2. Top down, not bottom up
It’s so much easier for sales people to have a clear, high-level, company-wide, value proposition created, and then they are free to tailor this to specific opportunities, rather than having to make them up from scratch. Also, doing it this way around (i.e. top-down) will reduce your cost of sale as you’ll know which opportunities are worth pursuing and which aren’t.

So the starting point needs to be company-wide, or division, or sector or product group, before translating the messages into major accounts or specific products or sales opportunities.

3. Involve all stakeholders 
A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer of the value that will be experienced. And you can’t create this by thinking up some clever words. You need input from many sources including people in your organisation and your customers.

4. Understand customer risk
We use the value equation where Cost must also include the risk taken by the customer in choosing to buy from you and your company.  Benefits are shown squared because the benefits you discover after going through the value proposition creation process must significantly outweigh the costs:

Value = Benefits² – Cost

5. Value is not just rational
During the value proposition creation process, it’s not just the rational dimensions of the client’s organisation that need to be taken into account but also the political and emotional/psychological.  Look at the 3 dimensions of:

• Rational (price, ROI, speed and feeds, features etc.)
• Political (e.g. how is this going to affect the buyer’s job? How will this value proposition be received by their organisation?)
• Emotional/psychological (how does the customer feel about you, your products/services and your company?)

6. Offerings deliver value
You can often achieve a huge surge in value for your customers, with very little outlay, by re-bundling or re-packaging existing offerings.

So, is a value proposition a silver bullet?  No, it isn’t, but it will significantly help with lead generation, conversion rates and overall profitability but only if you put some blood, sweat and tears into the creation process first.  Mine the silver first, hand-carve the bullet and then aim it at a precise target.