Irresistible Value Propositions

Irresistible  Value Propositions

Helping customers understand your USP is imperative when they’ve already
decided to make a purchase decision. But USPs have absolutely no impact when customers are satisfied with their situation or when they’re frustrated but haven’t yet decided to change.

USPs are far more effective in the business-to-consumer market than in business-to-business sales.
Both the elevator speech and the USP are cousins of the value proposition but lack the punch of a value proposition when selling to the corporate market.  Value Propositions

A Value Proposition

A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. It’s outcome focused and stresses the business value of your offering.
A strong value proposition is specific, often citing numbers or percentages. It may include a quick synopsis of your work with similar customers as a proof source and demonstration of your capability. Here are several examples to stimulate your thinking:
“We help large companies reduce the cost of their employee benefits
programs without impacting benefit levels. With the spiraling costs of health
care today, this is a critical issue for most businesses. One of our recent clients, a large manufacturing company similar to yours, was struggling with how to reduce spending in this area. We saved them over $800,000 in just six months. ”
“I help technology companies who are launching an important new product
into the marketplace – and need it to be successful to achieve their sales
forecast. Where I help my clients is in the often dropped hand-off between
marketing and sales. As a result, they’re able to more easily meet projected
sales goals and significantly shorten time-to-profitability.”

Again, notice the specificity of the value proposition and the use of business-oriented language. Prospective customers should be able to visualize exactly
what value you could bring their organization.

Irresistible  Value Propositions

The Epidemic of Weak Value Propositions

If you’re selling to the corporate market, one of the biggest challenges you
will encounter is getting face time with decision makers. Out Buyers

Corporate buyers, after years of continual downsizings and reorganizations, have way too much work to do and not nearly enough time to do it in. Under constant pressure to deliver “results,” they zealously protect their schedule, refusing to meet with anybody who can’t help them achieve their business objectives.
Busy decision makers screen all callers, using an administrative assistant as a
gatekeeper or their ubiquitous voicemail. And, if you’re selling something – you’re an undesirable interruption. Customers don’t have time to update you on their company, sit through an extended needs analysis or explore the possibilities of working together.
They don’t want to learn about your products or services just so they can know what’s out there. With every dollar they spend being scrutinized by higher-ups, wasting money on frivolous products or nice-to-have services is out of the question,

So unless something can be cost-justified and provide a significant return on their investment, they don’t want to take time to hear about it.
Not only that, but they’re also bombarded with people and companies trying to get their attention. It’s not unusual for corporate decision makers to average over 100 emails per day. Their voice mailbox is flooded with calls from co-workers, customers and outside vendors.
And what do they usually hear from people like you who are trying to get in and sell their products or services?

A typical phone message sounds like this:
“Hi, Mr./Ms. Decisionmaker. This is Tony from Super Duper Products, Inc. We
specialize in leading-edge financial software applications and have been rated
as having one of the best software by Krumstock Research.
“The reason I’m calling is that I’d like to set up an appointment with you to
introduce myself and to tell you more about how we might be able to help your
company speed up your reporting capabilities.

“I’ll be in your area in two weeks and was hoping to sit down with you for about a half hour. Please let me know if that will work for you. My number is …”
Why in the world would corporate decision makers take time out of their already overcrowded schedule to meet with this seller? They wouldn’t. Pure and simple. Even though the seller mentioned a benefit, it was weak – very weak.  Value Propositions

Ineffective and Unappealing

One of the biggest reasons businesses struggle in today’s market is because they have weak value propositions. Over and over again, I hear people who sell deliver ineffective statements about the value customers get from working with their organization. It doesn’t matter if these sellers are from big companies, small firms, or are independent professionals. They just aren’t saying things that get prospective buyers to say, “Come on in. We need to meet.”
And the worst thing is that many of the products or services these people sell have extremely high value to corporate accounts! But their failure to articulate it in words that appeal to corporate decision makers is their downfall. Instead, they limp along trying to drive sales but unable to even get in the door.

For example, in discussing their company’s products, many people use weak value propositions such as:
● It’s the most technology-advanced system in the market today.
● We offer the most robust enterprise system with the widest range of capabilities available.
● Our system was rated best-in-class at the recent Big Deal Conference.
● We are the low-cost provider of this kind of product/service.
● We offer one-stop shopping.
● We have a full range of products to meet your every need in the manufacturing area.

Service firms and independent professionals often say:
● I’m an OD consultant. I do team building and process re-engineering.
● We design brochures, websites, and packaging materials.
● We help improve creativity and innovation in organizations.
● I do sales training.
● I help companies decide which technology best meets their needs.
● I’m an attorney. I do corporate tax work.

BORING! If you’re like most people, you’re saying, “So what? Why should I waste my valuable time talking to you?”
Plus any time people hear words such as best, leading, superior and so on – they immediately dismiss them as self-promoting aggrandizement. These words are simply not believable and detract from your message.

So now that you know what doesn’t work, it’s time to figure out what does attract the attention of busy corporate decision makers. Value Propositions

With today’s tight economy, a strong value proposition breaks through the clutter and gets the attention of overburdened decision makers. If you haven’t found a way to state your value in business terms, you’re in for a never-ending struggle to get business.
Strong value propositions open doors and create opportunities for you to sell your products or services. They’re financially oriented and speak to the critical issues your target market is facing.

I recently read an article in a magazine about a company whose software
calculated exactly how much retailers should charge to squeeze the maximum
profit from every product and at any time.
During an 8-week test with one retailer, revenues jumped 10%, unit volume increased 6% and net profit grew 2% due to their price-optimization capabilities. Payback was expected within 12 months. That’s their value proposition!
What retailer wouldn’t want to learn more about what this company does! As I was reading the article, I could almost see the retailer’s senior management team salivating over the information in it.  That’s the power of a strong value proposition.

A while back I had lunch with the president of a $1/2 billion business unit of a major corporation. She told me that if someone contacted her and said he could reduce waste by just 1%, she would meet with him immediately. Why? Because she knew exactly how much her company spent on waste – and it was a lot of money. Every penny she saved would go right to the bottom line.
Again, powerful value propositions open doors – quickly! Taking time to really clarify yours is well worth the time invested in the process.

Irresistible  Value Propositions

Business-Oriented Terminology

Strong value propositions are always stated in business terms. Corporate buyers are particularly attracted to phrases such as:
● Increased revenues ● Faster time to market
● Decreased costs ● Improved operational efficiency
● Increased market share ● Decreased employee turnover
● Improved customer retention levels ● Increased competitive differentiation
● Faster response time ● Decreased operational expenses
● Increased sales per customer ● Reduced cost of sales
● Improved asset utilization ● Faster collections
● Reduced cost of goods sold ● Minimized risk
● Additional revenue streams ● Increased market share
● Improved time-to-profitability ● Increased billable hours
● Reduced cycle time ● Increased inventory turns
● Faster sales cycles ● Reduced direct labor costs

Can your business do any of these things? How about something similar?

Perhaps you’ve never really thought about your products or services in these terms. But this is what corporate decision makers want to hear so it’s time to revisit your value proposition.

Think about translating what you do into the language of decision makers.

Remember, they don’t care about your product’s speed or efficiency. They don’t care about the wonderful methodology you use. They only care about the results it delivers.
When you find the right words to describe your offering, you’ll immediately notice a change in how you’re treated. Corporate buyers will want to learn more about what you do.

Irresistible  Value Propositions, Measurable Results

The very best value propositions deliver tangible, measurable results that are highly desirable to prospective buyers. Yet many companies fail to extend their “benefits” into actual numbers. If it’s possible for you to do this, it is highly recommended.

Specificity sells. The more specific your value proposition, the more attractive it is.
Stories are another way of providing specificity, enabling you to get your message across but without having to make unsubstantiated across-the-board claims.

I recently wrote a comprehensive manual called Winning More Sales: Take Your Business to the Next Level with Insightful, Powerful Questions. One of the first people to purchase it from my website wrote me a note saying that my advice helped him land a $26,000 sale the very next day. With his permission, I’m using that quote to promote my book. It makes the price seem minuscule compared to the value received!

Sellers as the Real Value Proposition

In today’s market, with less and less differentiation between products and services, sometimes the seller is the real value proposition. Customers buy the knowledge, expertise and ideas he or she brings to the relationship.
For many salespeople, this is a totally new and unfamiliar paradigm – and they’re unprepared to sell their own personal worth. But many sellers do bring extraordinary value to their customers – sometimes in easily quantifiable ways, sometimes not.

A woman I know is a sock salesperson who does business with major retailers. Socks are commodities and pricing is often the primary criteria in decision-making. But not for this salesperson. She helps her customers increase sales to their clientele by:
● Regularly shopping the competition and advising her customers about market trends.
● Designing packaging alternatives to encourage customers to buy more socks at one time.
● Developing creative displays that entice customers to buy socks more often.
● Creating unique designs for trendy sock styles for special occasions and seasons.
These things are NOT part of her job description. She’s chartered to sell socks. But instead, she’s bringing her knowledge of design, color, and style to the customer relationship. Her customers reap huge benefits. Inventory is turning faster than ever before, sales are up and so is profitability.
Her value proposition is highly personal, but it’s what differentiates her from everyone else in the marketplace. When she’s in a competitive situation, she needs to share what she herself does for customers – and let them know they’re getting a business consultant in addition to a sock supplier.
This is the new and emerging reality in value propositions. In a world where products rapidly spiral into commodities and service offerings can be copied overnight, the only real difference between suppliers is the people involved. You, the seller, become the value proposition – and a huge factor in the decision that’s made.  Value Propositions

Value Propositions & Service Businesses

Many consultants and professional services providers find it difficult to quantify the measurable results customers realize from using their offerings. Because of this, they think they can’t come up with a strong value proposition.
I understand why they feel this way. With 15 years of consulting under my belt, none of my product launch clients measured or assessed the effectiveness of my work.
There are many reasons for this — not enough time to compare before/after results, the lack of a benchmark and the multiple factors that impact a new product’s market success. But like many of you, I lacked good hard data.

However, this did not stop me from talking about what I did in business terms. Rather than giving exact figures (which was impossible), I emphasized the:
● The lag time between product launch and achieving projected sales results.
● The critical need to shorten time-to-profitability.
● High costs of sales rep downtime preparing PowerPoint presentations and
● Inconsistent messages delivered to customers and channel partners.
● Lost “windows of opportunity” enabling competitive inroads.
● Inconsistent messages being delivered to channel partners and customers across the nation/world.

This value proposition was extremely attractive to senior marketing and sales leaders.
As a result, I had a highly profitable consulting practice in this area for years.
The other day I talked with an independent professional who also works with sales organizations. She told me she did training based on the appreciative inquiry model which builds on what salespeople are already doing right. I asked her what the outcome was of her methodology. She replied, “It energizes the sales force.”

After 25 years in the sales field, I can assure you that I’ve never met a sales manager or sales executive who wanted their salespeople to have more “energy.” They want results – pure and simple. More orders. Fewer losses to the competition. Bigger or more profitable contracts. Better customer retention. These are the words that  belong in your value proposition if you’re selling to sales management,

Irresistible  Value Propositions

How could you describe your firm to prospective customers if you did website
design? You might talk about:

● Driving more traffic to the website.
● Decreasing the number of customers who abandon full shopping carts.
● Increasing the transaction value per customer.
● Improving search engine rankings.
● Freeing up corporate resources with improved online capabilities.

What if you do something more nebulous like team building or organizational
development? Perhaps you could talk to your customers about:
● Reducing the high cost of employee turnover.
● Speeding up time spent on making critical business decisions.
● Eliminating management time spent on handling employee conflict.
● Maximizing employee productivity at work.
● Streamlining processes to increase operational efficiency.
● Creating a work environment where creativity flourishes, enabling customers to create a competitive business advantage.
● Minimize destructive turf issues that cost companies millions each year as
management scrambles for power.

Here’s one last example: I have a Mentoring Program that helps individuals and
companies boost their sales. I could easily describe it as “telephone consulting.” But it’s far more effective to tell about the regional engineering firm that called me in to help on a Request for Proposal. They were a major underdog – a regional firm competing against all the big players in their industry.
The buyer was conducting one-hour interviews with eight firms. Only three would be invited back for the second round. My client’s only goal was to make the first cut – to prove they could compete with the national consulting firms.
Winning the contract wasn’t even a possibility in their minds. They were delighted when they were invited back for the 2nd presentation. Several days later they received another call from the customer. They’d decided the second round of interviews was unnecessary – everyone wanted to work with my client.

With my help, they landed a large contract that grew to over $1 million in just 6
months. Now, wouldn’t you like to work with me if you could achieve similar results?
This story significantly enhances my credibility and demonstrates I know what I’m doing.
Whatever profession you’re in, it’s critical to talk about your work in business terms. As a result of working with you, what are the outcomes? What business results are attained? They’re there! You just need to find them.

Irresistible  Value Propositions

Clarifying Your Value Proposition.

So how does your value proposition look? Can you describe what you do in terms of tangible business results? Do you have documented success stories? Or do you need to do some work to enhance your value proposition? If it’s not strong enough yet, don’t despair.

Like I said earlier, most people and companies have a much stronger
one than they use. They just get caught up describing “what” they make or “how” they do things.

Both hard values and soft values need to be considered as you work on
strengthening your value proposition. You’ll want to explore how you impact
customers in each of these areas.

Tangible Value

This is the most easily identifiable because it’s directly related to your offering and is highly measurable. Tangible value is typically expressed in numbers or percentages.
Examples might be:
● Reduce cycle time from 3 days to one.
● Cut labor costs by 25%.
● Save $100,000 in energy costs.
● Increase market share 5%.
● Improving productivity 17%.

Typically tangible value gains also have related intangible value gains that aren’t as obvious, but help strengthen an already strong value proposition. For example, improving productivity means fewer workers. With a smaller workforce, the company saves a significant amount in the benefits area. Less money is spent on recruiting and hiring. These savings can also be quantified as part of your value proposition.

A well-designed website may cut the need for customer service staff. A more
efficient JIT ordering process decreases the amount of warehouse space and its associated costs. A digital asset management system’s ability to repurpose data reduces advertising expenses.

Intangible Value

Sometimes the value of your offering is not quite so measurable – such as lowered risk, increased teamwork, improved marketplace image, or better morale.

Intangible value doesn’t sell well in today’s economy. Most decision makers consider it a nice added benefit, but won’t spend money on a solution that only provides soft value.

To increase your sales success, take these intangibles and make them tangible. Find ways to quantify their value to customers.

Opportunity Costs

Opportunity Costs can also strengthen your value proposition. An opportunity cost is something your customer can’t do now because of their current methods of operation.

For example,

it’s what they could be doing with the $500,000 savings they’d get from using your product. Or it’s the business strategy and associated profits they can’t aggressively pursue because of the internal conflicts that delay decisions.

To strengthen your value proposition, follow the multiple suggestions discussed in the ensuing pages.  Value Propositions

Ask Your Customers

Your existing customers are your very best resource to find out what value you bring.
Tell your customer you need help understanding the real value of your offering and you’d like a chance to learn their perspective. This builds your relationship with customers at the same time it gives you a chance to learn an incredible amount of invaluable information.
Most people are scared to ask their customers about their value. I know it took me a while to get up the guts to do it but when I finally did, it was a real eye-opener. I had no idea that certain “little” things I threw in at no charge were extremely valuable to sales leaders.

Not only did these discussions change my value proposition, but they
also changed my offering and my own self-perception.
Anytime you ask customers for input, you open yourself up to hearing the not-so-good things too.

If your customer is upset at your company (or you) for any reason, take notes on the issue and promise to resolve it as soon as possible.
If your customer says negative things about you personally, listen and ask questions.
While this is not what you wanted from this meeting, it is critical data that can help you improve.

Make sure you don’t get defensive, make excuses, pass the blame or tell your
customer they’re wrong. If you do, your customer will shut down fast and your
credibility will be at risk. Most importantly, be curious at these meetings. Explore all your customer’s answers in depth to really learn the value you provide.
Example: If your customer tells you that communications improved because of your work — find out what it meant to them.

● Did they spend less time settling arguments?
● If so, how much less time?
● What was the value of that extra time?
● Did they use it to accomplish more? Like what?
● Because less time was spent bickering, what decisions were easier to make?
● How has the company benefited from those decisions?
● What additional profits or cost savings were realized from those decisions?

Irresistible  Value Propositions

Explore … Explore … Explore. This is how you uncover the strength in your value proposition.
Below are questions you can ask customers to determine your true value proposition.
Remember – your customers haven’t thought much, if at all, about the value you provide. Therefore, the responses you hear may be somewhat vague and initially seem like little help in clarifying your value proposition.

Don’t jump on your customers and demand they quantify your value.

Remain conversational and curious. Gently poke and prod your customer to explore different areas. People need and deserve time to think things through – and
agitating them by demanding hard value answers right away won’t help at all.

Have you ever seen any old Colombo movies or TV reruns? If so – remember how Colombo, a wily detective who knew a whole lot more than he let on, slowly and softly kept asking questions until he found what he was looking for. Emulating this behavior during these customer meetings will have a high payback for you.
Before you meet with your customer, write down the various problems you think your product or service solves for them. Next, write down the business impact of these problems.
Finally, write down the value you think your offering provides. Take this list into the meeting; use it to prompt you to explore the full range of your potential value to the customer.

Customer-Value Questions

To get better data, customize your questions to your product or service offering.
Consider the questions below as guidelines for this meeting.

● What value did my service/product/solution provide to your company?
– Where do the benefits show up?
– How did that help your bottom line?
– What improvements did you realize?
– How did it impact performance?  Value Propositions

● What were the three most important benefits you received as a result of our
product/work together?
– Why were these valuable to your organization?
– What cost/time savings did you realize?
● What did our solution enable you to do that you couldn’t before?
– What else? And how did that help your area?
– And what else?
– What is that worth to your organization?
● You said that working with us enabled you to reduce/increase __.
– Why was that important to you?
– How would you quantify its value?
– What other areas in your company received benefits because of our work
– Tell me more about those areas.
● How have things been better since we worked together or you implemented our system?
– What impact did it have in ___?
– How did it affect __?
– What were the ramifications for __?
– What was the effect on __?
– How would you quantify the value of these improvements?
(Note: This is where you probe for specific areas based on the list you
● How did our solution help you achieve your goals/objectives?
– What’s the value of that?
– What problems did it alleviate?

Ask these same questions to more than one person in your customer’s organization.
Talk to people in different areas and in different positions. They each have a unique and highly valuable perspective. Sometimes you’ll hear something totally new from one person that will lead you to a much stronger value proposition.

Strengthen your value proposition by looking at the results attained over time.
Annual savings are always better than hourly, daily or monthly savings.

More Ideas to Find Your Value Proposition

While asking your customers for input is one of the best ways to understand the true value of your offering, sometimes it’s not easy to do. They may be hard to reach or difficult to visit. Decision makers may have changed since the initial decision to go with your offering. Or, they may not be very articulate about the value of your product or service. If that’s the case, don’t fret! Alternative strategies are available.

Irresistible  Value Propositions

Brainstorm With Colleagues

Get together with a group of colleagues to discuss your value proposition. Your collective wisdom and experience provide a broad perspective. Plus it keeps you from only maintaining a focus on what your product or service can do. Even if you slip back into a description of your offering, your colleagues will challenge your thinking.
Review your marketing materials. Reflect on your customer knowledge. Think about what you say that interests and excites your customers and prospects. As a group, here are some questions you can discuss:

● How does your product, service or solution impact your customer’s bottom line or expenses?
– What costs have been eliminated?
– Time saved?
– Can you quantify a tangible hard dollar value gain?
– What intangible value has it provided?
● What positive impact has your product, service or solution had on bringing
additional revenue/business to your clients?
– What has the gain been?
– Can you determine a tangible hard dollar value gain?
– What intangible value has it provided?
● Does your product, service or solution enable your customer to achieve any
competitive advantage?
– What has the gain been?
– Can you determine a specific hard dollar value gain?
– What soft values has it provided?

  • Does your product, service or solution have an impact on your customer’s
    – What has the gain been?
    – Can you determine a specific hard dollar value gain?
    – What intangible value has it provided?
    ● How has your product, service or solution impacted your customer’s bottom line or expenses?
    – What costs have been eliminated?
    – Time saved?
    – Can you quantify a specific hard dollar value gain?
    – What soft values has it provided?

If tangible results aren’t forthcoming, challenge the group to take the discussion to the next level. Keep asking each other, “So what?”
● So what if it’s an efficient system?
● So what if we have a replicable process?
● So what if it’s high quality?
● So what if they have improved communication?
● So what if we cut turnaround time by 2 days?
● So what if the morale has improved.

Asking these question over and over again, gets you much closer to the real value you bring to customers. Look for the impact your offering has in the organization.
What financial effect do your products, systems or services have on the business?
Determining your value proposition with only an internal analysis can be dangerous
though.  Value Propositions

Outside validation by your customers is important, if at all possible. When it
comes down to spending money, it’s only your customer’s perception that counts.
Remember, many companies tout really weak value propositions. And, worse yet – nobody realizes just how bad their value propositions are. Don’t let another day go by with a weak value proposition. Use all the resources at your disposal to strengthen your value proposition.

If you’re an independent professional, get a group of colleagues together and
brainstorm each other’s business case. You need each other to get to your primary value proposition – you’re much too close to it to discover it without help.

Determine the Value of Change

What’s the pay-off (tangible value, intangible value, opportunity costs) from
using your product/service?

Exercise II: Writing Your Value Proposition

Use the space below to write a draft of your value proposition.


Comments from Others,

When you’re done, go get feedback from others.

Describe your customer and request that they listen from that perspective. Ask: “What caught your attention? Is it reflective of the true value I bring customers? How can I make it stronger?”

Now revise it to make it even more attractive to your customers. Or create a new one that emphasizes a different aspect of the value provided by your product or service. With close analysis, you’ll discover multiple ways to articulate your offering’s value to your prospective clients.

About Jill Konrath the Author. Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist and
author. As a frequent speaker at sales conferences, annual
meetings and kick-off events, she shares fresh sales strategies
and practical advice that actually works when selling to
today’s crazy-busy prospects.
SNAP Selling, her most recent book, soared to the #1 sales
book on Amazon within hours of its release. Selling to Big
Companies, her 1st book was selected as a “must read” by
Fortune magazine and has been an Amazon Top 20 sales book since 2006.


Jill Konrath is my favorite “go to gal” she has practical advice that all should listen to.

Thank you, Jill Konrath.

If you would like to know more about Irresistible value Propositions and how to implement them in your business contact us as we have a very affordable mentoring program.


Contact me if you need to make an appointment to see if and how we can help you create an Irresistible Value Proposition.

Dr. Michael J Freestone. B.Com. MBA. FCIS. DBA.