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Is There Real Value In Your Value Proposition?

by David Brock on February 8th, 2009
Everyone is talking about value propositions. Google the term and you get 11.3 millions hits. Look at the marketing materials for any company and you will see them extolling their value propositions.

Read your company’s “value propositions” and those of your competition. Don’t they sound the same? Can you really differentiate between yours and those of your competitors? If you can’t articulate a meaningful and differentiated value proposition, then why should the customer choose your offering?

In defining and communicating your value proposition, you must focus on several issues.

  • First, the customer must have a real need or a business problem. This seems obvious, but too often, we see sales people pursuing opportunities in which the customer has no need to buy.
  • Value is determined by the customer. If you do not know what the customer values,
    then you cannot present meaningful value proposition.
  • To win, the customer must perceive that your value proposition must be superior to every alternative being considered. This includes competitors, or the possibility of the customer doing nothing. It is your responsibility to differentiate your solution, producing a superior value proposition.

Developing your value proposition is not rocket science. Here are some tips, based on our experience:

  • To have a differentiated value proposition, you must discover what customers’ value. The most important phase of the sales process is the “Discovery Phase.” This is where you spend time understanding the customer needs, business drivers, key issues, priorities, hopes and dreams. Until you understand these, you don’t know what the customer values.
  • The greatest value often lies outside the specific capabilities of the product
    you are selling. Don’t ignore the non-product aspects of what you deliver
    and how these might help differentiate your offering.
  • Elements of value may be business or personally oriented. When trying to discover what customers’ value, look for both the business and personal elements of value and try to respond to each in presenting your offer.
  • When I refer to developing unique value propositions for each customer, I mean each person involved in making or influencing the decision in the customer organization. To be successful, sales professionals need to present the value of the offer that means the most to each individual at the time the decision is being made.
  • There are no silver bullets! When the Lone Ranger died, all the silver bullets went away. Developing, communicating, and delivering value requires real understanding of what your customer seeks to accomplish, the roadblocks they face, and what is important to them.
  • A way to start you thinking about your value proposition is to think about your customer’s business and their priorities. For example, the answers to the following questions. Once you have the answers, drill down, quantify, and prioritize.
  • What do we do in helping our customers increase their revenue?
  • What do we do in helping our customers decrease their costs?
  • What do we do in helping our customer increase their profitability?
  • What do we do to help our customers better respond to the needs of their
    customers?
  • What do we do to help our customers improve their productivity?
  • What do we do to help our customers improve their cycle time/speed?
  • What do we do to help our customers improve the satisfaction, retention, and
    growth of their customers?
  • What do we do to help our customers improve their quality?
  • What do we do to help our customers improve the satisfaction of their employees?
  • How can we help them in this economic downturn?
  • Remember your competition is trying to develop and communicate their value proposition. To be successful your value proposition must be differentiated and superior to all others. Never lose sight of your differentiation. Confirm and reconfirm your value with your customer.
  • Finally, make sure you are delivering real value! Failing to deliver on the value the customer thought they were buying will destroy the relationship over time.

Developing and communicating a differentiated value proposition in each sales situation is critical to success. There is a lot of hype about value propositions. Focusing on the elements listed above will help guide you to greater success with your customers.

(For a more comprehensive set of white papers on developing and communicating unique value, send an email to me, dabrock@excellenc.com, I’ll be glad to forward them to you.)

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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