Sales and marketing people have been bandying around terms like Value Propositions, Unique Selling Proposition, Unique Value Propositions for decades.

Unfortunately, they still mean different things to different people. And they have been misused for too long.

“The greatest inhibitor to sales effectiveness is the seller’s inability to communicate a VALUE message.” — SiriusDecisions

To me, a value proposition is a means to communicate succinctly to a Prospect or to a Buyer what’s in it for them when they deal with us.

A value proposition is a means to communicate succinctly to a Prospect or to a Buyer what’s in it for them when they deal with us.

It should be that simple, but organizations have tied themselves into knots coming up with ones that work for them.

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What’s worse, too many organizations are still inward-looking and product-focused when they should be customer-centric, i.e. they should “do everything with the customer in mind”, as Jeff Bezos put it for his company Amazon.

So, to me (and to Jeff, I guess) the only value proposition that counts is the one that engages your customers.

The only value proposition that counts is the one that engages your customer.

Why is that important?

Because if you get it wrong it can have horrible consequences for your business. One of my pet grievances is when marketers put up a value proposition that is completely focused on the wrong thing: on their organization.

Not only does it wreak havoc with how prospects view your website, but your sales people will start using it in their prospecting and customer interactions, too.

Here are some actual real-life examples of what I am talking about:

This is a cold email that landed in my in-tray and didn’t get caught by the spam filter

“Dear Peter,

Greetings from (name withheld)! I am reaching out to introduce (name withheld). We are a cross channel ad management and optimization platform. Our advanced algorithmic solutions automate & optimize your digital marketing process to give you a better ROAS. We have deep integration into various digital channels and analytics into a unified dash board. This equips you to easily manage and optimise all your social marketing campaigns. Attached is an introductory deck which showcases our product features. I would love to get on a quick 10-minute introductory call to discuss how our automation platform can add value to your digital marketing efforts. 

How does anytime this week look for you? Let me know when I can set up the call.

Best,

(name withheld), Product Manager”

Did you notice how many sentences above start with “Our”, with “I” or with “We”? What is this email about? Is it about the company and its products, or is it about what they can do for their customers?

So, I say that any value proposition that begins with “I” or “We” leads you down the wrong path because it leads yo to talking about yourself, not what’s in it for your customers.

Here is an example from the ABOUT US page of a vendor website:

“(name withheld) is a fully managed IT services company that focuses its time and energy on developing, maintaining, and supporting technology systems for growing businesses, implementing ERP systems and custom application development. 

(name withheld) has distinguished themselves by working for and with leading companies and service organizations acquiring vast experience with, and on, a wide range of complex, mission-critical and high-volume information systems platforms and roll outs for high profile organizations.”

How customer-centric is this information? What value does it convey?

So, have a look at your own business. On your company website does the ABOUT US page talk about you, or about what you do for your customers?

Check how your sales reps and SDRs: How do they introduce your organization every day?

Does your ABOUT US web page talk about you? How do your sales reps and SDRs introduce your organization?

Sales executives that I deal with tell me that prospects now decide in the first few seconds of a cold call whether they are interested, or not. Once they have lost interest it is VERY difficult to get their interest back. So we only have a few seconds to make a positive impression and to capture the imagination of our prospects.

We have to make our value proposition immediately engage our customers and prospects.

We have to make our value proposition immediately engage our Customers and our Prospects.

So, how customer-focused in your value proposition? How do you get yours right?

It’s easy: just consider everything you do from your customers’ perspective and convey clearly what’s in it for them.

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Peter Strohkorb
Peter Strohkorb is an international B2B Sales & Marketing Effectiveness Expert, specialising in the Tech, IT and Services Sector. Peter’s vision is a world where organisations enjoy sustainable sales growth by maximising the effectiveness of their customer-facing resources through his structured Sales and Marketing productivity framework. Over more than 20 years in executive Sales and Marketing roles for some of the largest technology corporations on the planet Peter witnessed the waste, cost and personal frustrations that occur on both sides when Sales and Marketing teams do not collaborate as well as they could. This personal experience fired his passion to create his The OneTEAM Method™, which is both his solution to this problem and the title of his first book. In December 2019 his book was voted #33 of The 88 Books all Marketers should read. Peter is currently working on his follow-up book, titled “Smarketing™: Sell smarter, not harder” to be published in 2020. Apart from being a successful consultant and executive mentor Peter is also a popular corporate speaker, MC and facilitator, a guest lecturer in the Executive MBA program at the Sydney Business School and a popular subject matter expert in both traditional and online media. Peter also runs a specialist sales and marketing thought leadership forum on his YouTube channel and through his webinars. He has received industry awards for his Sales & Marketing Assessment tool, his thought leadership content and for his research into the state of Sales & Marketing Collaboration. Peter holds a “Mini MBA” in Marketing and Management from the prestigious Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) in Sydney. He is also a graduate at the Australian Institute of Company Directors in Sydney and is a professional board director. Peter lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and family. He is looking forward to hearing from you.