How to create a compelling value proposition: Do it yourself in 3 steps

Businesses today are seeking products, services, and solutions that will directly or indirectly improve their competitive advantage.  As part of the sales process, buyers expect to hear how sellers' products or services will materially contribute to the buying organization's success-and why the seller is uniquely qualified to deliver that value.  This post outlines how to step into buyers' minds, and create value propositions that compel them to buy.

What is a value proposition?

A value proposition is an offer from a seller to a buyer that promises to materially improve the buyer's situation by offering a specific benefit or set of benefits.  A compelling value proposition induces the buyer to act on obtaining the promised value.

What makes a value proposition compelling?

The most compelling business-to-business value propositions are those that address high-priority concerns-and reduce the risk associated with the purchasing decision.  They are clear and concise, promise quantifiable outcomes, clearly distinguish the value the seller is offering from the value the buyer could obtain elsewhere, provide evidence that supports the sellers' claims and/or a guarantee that makes the seller "whole", and provide a reason or incentive for acting right away.

Here are three steps for success:

1. Answer the following questions

Below, you'll find a list of questions that will help you develop a compelling value proposition-and a call to action that you can use to test it..

Questions Explanation
What is the profile of your most promising prospects? Business buyers often believe their situations are unique-and will only consider vendors that understand that.  Therefore, your value proposition must communicate that understanding.
What is this audience's most pressing concern? Business buyers, because of the public nature of their decisions, are most likely to address concerns that they or their businesses have identified as urgent or as high priorities.
What solution are you offering? Describing the solution you are offering gives you and prospective buyers a common reference point.
How will the buyer's situation materially improve as a result? Business buyers seek benefits.  Your value proposition, therefore, needs to describe the improvement that they can expect.  Even better, whenever possible, help them justify the investment by quantifying the outcomes your solution will deliver.
What alternative(s) does your audience have for addressing that concern? Buyers always consider alternatives-even if that alternative is "do nothing".  You need to identify the competition and the benefits associated with their solution(s) to figure out how to position the offering effectively.
What makes your solution a better choice than the alternative? It is important to position your products or services against each of your competitors.  Else, they or someone else will do it for you.
What evidence-or guarantee-can you provide thatyou'll deliver the promised results? Many companies hold B2B buyers accountable for their decisions.  Therefore, many seek assurances that reduce the risk of a bad decision.
What action do you want buyers to take? To encourage action, it's important to tell buyers what they should say or do.
What is the advantage of acting immediately or the consequence of inaction? You need to give buyers a reason to act immediately.  Else, the natural tendency, especially for high-risk decisions, is to postpone buying until they have better information or the risk subsides.

2. Fill in the blanks in the "Value Proposition Formula"TM

We help [your most promising prospects] that [need help with the pressing concern you address] succeed by [providing the material improvement you will deliver].  Unlike [the alternative solution], [your solution] [describe the reason why your company is a better choice] as demonstrated by [evidence that you will deliver as promised].

3. Test your value proposition with a call to action

Test your value proposition on your website, in your marketing campaigns, or in your sales pitches to induce prospects.  Add a call to action in the format: [Perform this action] and [the advantage they'll reap or the consequence of inaction].

If prospects respond, you'll know you've succeeded in developing a compelling value proposition.  If prospects fail to take the desired action, conduct interviews to determine why not.  Then, decide whether you need to refine your value proposition or start over.

Need a fresh perspective?

Sometimes a small shift in how you define and communicate the value that your solutions offer makes a huge difference-but it can often be hard to pinpoint that shift on your own.  Want to change your results dramatically, contact us.

Put your value proposition to work now

We'd appreciate your comments including the value propositions you create using the "Value Proposition Formula"TM.  In the next few posts, we'll provide examples of our own.

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by Barbara Bix - In tough economic times, more and more clients are looking to their accountants to help them improve the bottom line. Often, the best way to do that is to start with the top line-since one can only decrease expenses so far. This blog discusses concrete actions you and your business-to-business clients can use to accelerate revenues.

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