Buyers are not compelled—Guide to a solid value proposition
A B2B company’s value proposition is simply the promise to the customer, benefits they will realize should they choose to purchase.
Easy, right? Well, the sales pundits say it's not. They believe less than 20% of buyers feel the sales pitches they receive are compelling enough to engage or even listen further (Forester <15%, SiriusDecisions <10%). Granted these stats could be bad targeting (wrong pitch to wrong target), which happens to be in the top three challenges with clients we assess.
But let's assume we are in front of the right audience, and we want a strong foundation for selling.
According to Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and after working with hundreds of Altus clients, if you don’t have a compelling value proposition, then sales will suffer. Finding solid examples is not hard and probably the best way to understand the concept.
Be more productive at work with less effort - Slack
Save money without thinking about it - Digit
Bookkeeping without the Hassle - LessAccounting
Feel organized without the effort - Evernote
Simplify the Business of Life - Intuit
Value proposition frameworks
As I reviewed dozens of value proposition examples from a B2B sales perspective, I liked the crisp two-part cadence of the Benefit + How propositions. A statement that hits on a compelling benefit and what it takes to make it happen.
A good test is if you can picture your reps naturally making this statement several times through a pitch and demo.
Harvard and others like a three-part framework such as “we help (these people) do (this) by doing (that).” There are many more complicated formulas and clever builders that theoretically generate value propositions for marketers.
Unless you are a deep-funded B2C brand with an ad budget, we suggest you simply get the right customer insights, get in a room with the appropriate teammates and build a few simple statements trying the Benefit + How framework.
The statement should entice why purchasing would be beneficial to your customer and thus a foundation of the sales process.
Ingredients of an effective value proposition
Getting there beyond this framework and examples, below are key points to consider in creating a clear and effective statement that strikes emotional and logical chords:
- Create one! Don't leave this element to the sales rep to craft on their own. The statement needs to be grounded in the reality of the customer and completely agreed to throughout the company.
- Team effort. The value prop is one of those critical company elements that sits squarely between sales and marketing. While marketing typically would “own” it, the sales team better have complete buy-in to be delivered effectively.
- True to yourself. Just as the value proposition is the foundation of the sales process, the company’s mission needs to be the foundation of the value prop. What you are as a company needs to translate into what you do for customers.
- True to the customer. However you get real customer feedback and information, you need to dive further into their true pain and identify their focus. This is where the value prop needs to hit home to be effective. The higher the importance you can address, the higher the value and odds of conversion.
- Be crisp. This is not a listing of benefits. The best drive home one point and nearly approach a tagline (Taglines create interest—VP should claim business value). All your products/services do many great things, but you have to anchor to one that forms the best foundation and is the most memorable to all you are trying to convince.
- Be consistent. Deliver and repeat the same message throughout the prospecting, sales, and onboarding process. You should expand and adapt to each persona and stakeholder mindset in the process but always anchor the value to the core benefit
- Follow with proof. A strong value proposition supported with recent, relevant, and compelling use cases is half the battle in sales. Proven value propositions are a great sales tool for qualifying prospects. If you can't get a prospect to commit to a sales process after your value proposition and proof points, you are wasting your time to continue further.
The recipe in action
Diving into the exercise, Altus came up with: Fixing sales when you don't know the problem
Our partner ZoomInfo went with: Your ticket to the C-Suite (nearly a tagline)
No value proposition… no excuse
With the foundation of a strong value proposition, sales can drive the entire sales process by expanding with the proof, ROI, differentiation, price, etc. to close the sale.
Without one, it's hard to scale and secure a consistent customer base that becomes an advocate of that very value proposition.
Take a step today by trying out the framework and tips in this article.