Value Proposition: What Is Yours, And Does It Come Up Short?

By Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy Officer

November 23, 2017

B2B value proposition

If your company is like most, you’ve carefully crafted your value proposition and you’ve trained your salespeople on how to use it. But according to research by SiriusDecisions, only 10% of executives surveyed rated sales calls as providing enough value to warrant the time they spent on them.

A similar study by Forrester Research determined that only 15% of sales calls add enough value. That means 85-90% of sales calls are perceived as communicating no value – a staggering failure rate by any measure.

In short, most value propositions are poorly conceived and ineffectively delivered. The reason salespeople fail to articulate value is that they commit the three deadly sins of sales messaging:

  • Providing too much information
  • Not describing from the buyer’s perspective
  • Failing to identify what’s different about them

To fix this, you need to understand why your value proposition is coming up short. And that means changing the way you develop and deliver it.

DEVELOP Your Value Proposition More Effectively

Problem: You build your value proposition using a fill-in-the-blank formula or personas

Value proposition development advice often gets distilled into a fill-in-the-blank formula that might look something like this: [Product] is a [description] that [what it does] for [target audience] who need to [do something/solve a problem]. Unlike [alternative], it [differentiator].But a formulaic approach creates a formulaic result.

Alternatively, some companies take a persona-based approach where they define characters (personas) with names, demographic attributes, attitudes, and behaviors to help frame and target messages, including value propositions. But when used as a superficial profiling approach, personas can lead your messaging astray.

And many companies simply craft a paragraph that includes all the buzzwords…er, keywords that they think will resonate.

The result? Everyone’s value proposition sounds the same.

Solution: Find Your Value Wedge to build Your Power Positions 

Value Proposition: Why Yours Comes Up Short

Find your Value Wedge to build your Power Positions – and a value proposition that actually communicates real value to the prospect.

Value Parity is the overlap between you and your competitors. Focusing here won’t create a value wedge but a “me too” proposition. Instead, you want to focus on what you can do for the prospect that is different from what the competition can do. This is your Value Wedge – this is where you find your distinct point of view. For something to be in the Value Wedge, it needs to pass three tests; it needs to be:

  1. Unique to you
  2. Important to the customer
  3. Defensible

And when you have something that’s unique to you, important to the customer and defensible, you have a Power Position – a value proposition that actually communicates real value to the prospect. In fact, the Value Wedge is designed to overcome all three of the deadly sales messaging sins mentioned above. It helps you effectively find and focus on the unique strengths that you can make important to the customer by showing them what they are trying to achieve and what is holding them back.

DELIVER Your Value Proposition More Effectively

Problem: You lead with your value proposition

Once you have a well-crafted value proposition that communicates your Power Positions, you’re still only halfway done.  You need to understand how and, more importantly, when to deliver it. Most salespeople lead with this proposition right away. But most prospects aren’t ready to hear your value proposition – which answers the question “why you?” – because they first need to understand “why change.”

Solution: Establish a buying vision first

Before your prospects are ready to hear about “why you” – your value proposition – you need to establish a buying vision which makes the case for “why change.” You need to grab the prospect’s attention, challenge his current assumptions, and convince him to consider making a change. Only now, when the prospect cares enough to do something different, can you start leading him on a path to choosing you.

At Corporate Visions, we help companies develop compelling value propositions with Power Positioning and we train their salespeople so they can effectively establish a buying vision with Power Messaging.