Business speaker Jaynie Smith, states a value proposition must provide a clear answer to a single question: “Why should I buy from you and not your competition?”
According to the Vistage post where Smith made that point, 95 percent of businesses don’t even know what their competitive advantages are, which means they certainly haven’t crafted a message that lets their salespeople spell it out to customers.
Since the first part of this series covered the basics of why value propositions are critical to business success and scalability, this article will outline how to create, document, and leverage your own.
Three Questions to Get You Started
Salespeople need a clear, concise and persuasive USP to communicate to customers. Without these, there will be no consistency to their messaging, and it’s likely they will find themselves focusing on the features and benefits they as individuals understand best, rather than those that will appeal most to the prospect in question. This opens the door for misconceptions and lost opportunities. Get a handle on your value proposition and USPs by starting with three simple questions:
- What are the business’s key differentiators?
- What unique benefits does the product or service provide relative to competitors’ offerings?
- How can the business add value to customers?
The answers to these questions set the organization’s product or service apart from the rest of the market and outline why and how the business offers a distinct advantage. These are precisely the elements a sales team must be able to articulate when chasing a lead.
Building a Strong Business Value Proposition
If these questions are tough to answer, sales metrics and KPIs can provide some insight. It can also be helpful to get input from the sales team or from customers. From their perspective:
- What are the biggest selling points?
- What gives the organization’s offering an edge over competitors?
These insights are helpful in building a cohesive picture of what sets the organization’s offerings apart and what new customers need to know. These are the key components of a value proposition. Once it’s established and documented, the next step is to ensure it’s communicated and understood across the organization.
Value Proposition: The Foundation of the Organization
A value proposition should not be mentioned in training — it should be the bedrock on which the entire training program is based. The value proposition should be clearly articulated in the organization’s handbook and serve as a central feature of employee induction. New hires should get it the moment they walk through the door, and it should be referred to frequently during onboarding.
The value proposition outlines what makes the business special and it details the expected rules of engagement. No employee — certainly no salesperson — can be expected to function at capacity without the organization’s value proposition ingrained in their minds.
Examples of Good Value Propositions
For the sales team, the value proposition is the mantra on which they will base their pitches. Here are some examples of the few businesses that really nailed their value propositions:
- British Petroleum: “We prioritize value over volume by actively managing a high-value upstream and downstream portfolio and investing only where we can apply the distinctive strengths, capabilities and technologies that we have built up over decades.”
- AstraZeneca: “To make a meaningful difference to patients through great medicines that bring benefits to their health, and add value to stakeholders and society.”
- Primark: “An upscale, in-store experience.”
- Coca-Cola U.K.: “To refresh the world in mind, body and spirit.”
The value proposition is closely tied to the organization’s core values because it explains what the business does and why it does it. If the business’s leaders can’t clearly articulate the organization’s value, how can a sales team be expected to thrive? Once they develop a strong value proposition, leaders have a tiny window of time to instil it in every member of the organization — especially the sales team.