Common value proposition mistakes and how to avoid them

You followed up with a lead and they’re interested in meeting with you. Way to go! Your suit is pressed, the meeting agenda is printed, but are you sure you’re fully prepared?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock_000003091176XSmall.jpgOne important part of selling that is often overlooked is creating a value proposition – the reasons why a prospect should choose you over the competition. In many cases, your employees, even your sales team, find it difficult to articulate exactly what your company does and how it translates into value for your customers and prospects.

Strong value propositions can open doors. Think of it as the headline of an article – if it’s compelling and targeted to the reader’s interests, they’ll be hooked. If not, they will move on to the next.

Here are two common mistakes to look out for: 

1. Canned Elevator Speech – It’s easy to fall back on your canned elevator speech – “My company is the best in the industry” or “Our solution is groundbreaking”. But how effective is it? What does it mean to your prospect?

Remember: Your value proposition should be customized, focused on your prospect’s needs and it should differentiate your company from the competition. Take the time to personalize your value proposition based on your prospect’s business issues and interests.

2. Your content is all about you - We are the leading company in our industry. We can help you reach your goals. We have a great team of experts. You get the point! One of my college professors would circle these statements when he was correcting papers and write “French” in the margin. “We We We” – get it?! Cheesy, but memorable.

Remember: Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes when you’re thinking about your value proposition. Focus on the benefits you can provide for the prospect, not a description of the features of your product or service. Continue asking “So what?” until you get to the tangible results you can offer to your prospect.

I find the best way to write a value proposition is to go through three steps:

  1. Identify the business issue
  2. Articulate your company’s customized solution or service
  3. Define the benefits to the prospect

After going through these three steps, you’ll probably have a great deal of text. Pare it down in stages, 100 words, then 50 words, until you have a concise, impactful statement.

Finally, do a one more check to make sure you have a strong value proposition. Ask the following questions:Thumbnail image for iStock_000002807197XSmall.jpg

  • Is it clear?
  • Is it relevant?
  • Are you providing value for the prospect?
  • Does it differentiate your company from the competition?
  • Can you deliver?

If you can answer yes to all five questions, you’re ready to go!

What does your value proposition look like?  What are your tips and tricks to get beyond the “what” and “how” to convey the real value of your products or services?

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