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The Importance and Design of the Value Proposition

By Chris Gale

Regardless of the massive growth in the use of the internet and social media for research and online purchasing, the old saying “people buy from people” remains as true as ever. Products and services have features, but it’s about how real people bring features to life, transform them into relevant benefits, and match them to needs, wants, desires that matters in sales. The bad old days of sharp sales practices are dead, and quite rightly so! Consultative selling rules and ‘trusted advisor’ is the optimum selling relationship.

So…. how do we get there and where should we start from?

We’re going to start at the beginning with the thing that must be absolutely right before you can dare to try and proactively sell your products or services…The Business and Personal Value Proposition.

Yes, I know, we’ve all heard the marketeers talk about the value proposition and the 30 second elevator pitch. we all know – or do we? – that it is something we should perfect and tweak and adapt as the demands of our customers change…. but if challenged, how many of us could say we are 100% confident that we have the optimum value proposition in place which is working hard for us and capable of winning business?

Everyone in your business, and especially anyone involved in customer services or sales must know, and be able to articulate the business VP and their personal VP with positive impact – impact which takes you closer to a sale rather having neutral impact (no impact) or negative impact.

It’s something which deserves thought, preparation, care and practice.

It should represent the DNA of the business and should flow through into everything…… Linkedin, Facebook, website, e-mail signatures, business cards, materials, and crucially into how the phone is answered, how first impressions are created, what we say at networking events, how we present our approach, our products and services, how we sell ourselves.

So, let’s start with a definition of the VP statement.

“An impactful and fully rounded statement clearly explaining who you are, what you stand for, what you do, what you sell, why you are great, how you are different, what they can expect, how you will solve their problem or maximise their opportunities”

Sounds simple until you begin the task of construction!
Do not despair, guidance is at hand!

The first great tip I can share is called ‘The three legged stool’ of VP Building. here are the three crucial legs of the stool:

a, It must resonate with the potential customer
b, It must detail how you differentiate
c, It must substantiate your offer with credibility and preferably examples

The second great tip which is fully aligned and supporting of the three legged stool model, is to focus on (1) know your market (2) know your customer (3) know the competition.

The first task in building the value proposition is therefore to identify, qualify and quantify all of the component parts / inclusions which might make the final cut. Conduct proper research into the current and near future state of the market you operate in. Focus on your current and desired customers and profile them so that you know who they are and what they want, need and desire. Finally, make sure you know who the competition are and what they offer. Think about the basis they sell on…is it price, is it quality, is it exclusivity? Know them well and this is this the basis you need for achieving differentiation and competitive advantage.

My final tip before the hard work begins is to make some really valuable lists of the following:

  • Unique selling points – do you really have any?they are as rare as gold dust so be honest with yourself and only suggest you have a unique offering if it is 10% true!
  • Key selling points – this task is slightly easier but you should only include offerings which are at least equal to the top competition (equalisation) and ideally better than, or different to the competition (differentiation)
  • Perceived selling points – these are also very precious golden nuggets and are the selling points your customers have stated as being of value to them

In summary…

The VP deserves thought, preparation and practice.
The VP should be the DNA of the business.
The VP should flow through all media.
Everyone in the business should know it and be able to bring it to life.
It should be practised, rehearsed and used in f2f networking activity etc.
It has to resonate, differentiate, substantiate.
It should contain any USP’s you have (rare) and your top three KSP’s.