If you’ve been in B2B marketing or sales for the last few years, you’ve definitely noticed some changes – longer and more complex sales cycles, more buyers involved in the decision-making process, and more buyers coming to your organization with a clear idea of what they want.
As buying cycles become more complex, now more than ever, it’s critical to have a compelling value proposition that connects the dots for potential buyers and clearly illustrates how your solution solves their problem. But this is easier said than done, as recent research shows that 83% of marketers have no idea how to develop or apply a customer value proposition!
But don’t stress. As it turns out, there’s a formula to articulate a powerful message, which we cover in depth in our upcoming book Value-ology: Aligning sales and marketing to shape and deliver profitable customer value propositions.
Breaking down the value proposition
From our perspective, a value proposition is “a promise of expected future value illustrating that future relevant and distinct benefits will outweigh total cost of ownership.”
In order to create a strong value proposition, you need to be able to answer these 5 questions:
- Who are you talking to?
It all starts with getting a clear picture of your ideal customer. Who are they? How do they make decisions? What do they care about? What are their likes/ dislikes? Having a clear picture of your buyer helps you create content that will be useful to them. The more details you learn and collect about your potential customer, the easier it will be to get them engaged. One of the best tools to use is buyer personas.
- What problem do you solve?
Think about your potential customers and what they really want to achieve. Articulate the problem and the challenges facing your customers using language that resonates with them. Avoid using a ton of industry jargon – as this just confuses your message. Start by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Don’t assume your customer knows what they want. It’s your job to explain the problem (in simple terms) and the potential dangers involved if your customer chooses not to solve the problem.
- How does your organization solve this problem?
Think about how your solution makes your customers’ lives better. It can be helpful to write out a before and after scenario, depicting the benefits a potential customer receives from using your product. Many firms are tempted to throw in a bunch of product features at this stage, which entirely misses the point. Your customer isn’t buying your product because of a feature that it has, they are buying it because they have a problem that they are trying to fix. The more you can communicate the benefits and outcomes that your product offers, the more likely it is that you will make a sale.
- Why are you unique?
Don’t make your customer read through pages of website copy to figure out why your solution is different than all of the other solutions out there. Do you know what your competition is saying? Explain why your organization is uniquely positioned to solve their problem. Get them to envision what life would be like after purchasing/ using your product. And remember, it’s not relevant if your “uniqueness” isn’t useful to your potential buyers.
- Where’s the proof?
Your value proposition isn’t just a fluffy marketing messaging. You need to be able to financially justify the value you provide and have the proof to back up your claims. MHI Global reports that buyers are putting more emphasis on identifying and calculating the benefits of any potential purchase. This means you better be able to demonstrate the ROI of your solution, using real customer testimonials or case studies.
For example, let’s say you are targeting a VP of Marketing to offer them your new customer analytics software. Based on your customer research (see #1 and 2 above), you know their biggest pain points are to create efficiency within their department and generate more qualified leads for the sales team. Thus, your value could be articulated as “On average, the Acme analytics solution increases productivity within your marketing department by 20% while increasing the # of qualified sales leads by 40% – all within the first 3 months.” People will pay extra for your product if you can demonstrate how it will make their lives better.
Once you’ve answered these five questions, you will be well on your way to creating a message that not only resonates with customers but also provides you with a solid foundation from which to develop strong marketing content, useful sales meetings and higher win rates.
Want more help? We give you step-by-step instructions to create a winning value proposition in our free e-book, Rock your Customers World.