Most expansion stage sales teams recognize the need to be able to express the value proposition of their products and services. It sounds incredibly basic — and that’s part of the problem. It’s something so basic that it gets overlooked as startups are growing so rapidly and morphing into expansion stage businesses. The management team assumes that everyone knows the value proposition, but as it turns out, there may be 3 or 4 value propositions floating around the company rather than one SOLID value prop coming from the CEO and executive team.
In January, OpenView hosted a Sales Execution Forum for the companies in our portfolio, and we found that this was the case with most of our investments. The VP of Sales thought the value proposition was one thing, and the CEO had something a little different in mind.
The companies in our portfolio are doing well – they are acquiring new customers, and profits are up. HOWEVER, to get to the next stage of growth, the value proposition needs to be really buttoned up. Brian Zimmerman wrote about value propositions and the value of the forum for our investments in a recent article.
So what is a value proposition? Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies and Snap Selling defines it as, “a clear statement of tangible results that a customer can get from using your product or services.” I agree with Jill, and I would add that the value proposition must also concisely articulate why your company’s product or offering will be of greater value to the prospect than similar products on the market.
As the management team is making improvements to the business’ value proposition, here are 9 questions to consider according to Barbara Bix of BB Marketing Plus:
- What is the profile of your target customer?
- What is your target customer’s biggest concern or pain point?
- What solution are you offering?
- How will the buyer’s situation improve as a result?
- What alternatives does your prospect have for addressing that concern?
- What makes your solution a better choice than the alternative?
- What evidence (or guarantee) can you provide that you’ll deliver promised results?
- What action do you want buyers to take?
- What is the advantage of acting immediately, or the consequence of inaction?
Don’t expect to get it right on the first try. Your value proposition will need to be tested with prospects and customers until you are 100% confident that no customer, in his/her right mind could walk away from your solution.
The sooner you can figure this out, the sooner your employees will be more aligned, and the sooner your target customers will be aware and interested.