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ATD Blog

Creating a Unique Value Proposition

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

In the simplest of terms, a value proposition is how your company can solve the customer’s problem more effectively than any competitor. Your value proposition might be that you have a better understanding of your customer’s problem because you used to work in that industry or at that company. You might have a more advanced product that can solve multiple problems at once, or a more highly skilled group of employees to help solve the problem. Or maybe you’re a lot less expensive than your competitors (although often times a value proposition allows you to focus on quality and not price). 

A good value proposition has two sides: the customer side and your company’s side. 

The Customer Side 

The first side of the value proposition is about what the customer needs. Without the customer needs side, your value proposition is based on your view of the world and what you THINK your customer needs. By doing a little research, asking the right questions, and understanding the customer, you can identify his or her needs and build a better value proposition. 

In order to better understand your customer, ask questions in the four following categories: 

  1. Financial.

    What are the customer’s financial goals? Is cost the real issue? What else is important financially?

  2. Outcomes.

    What outcomes does your customer expect? What are the one or two outcomes that will make this successful?

  3. Resources.

    What types of resources does this problem require, both from the customer’s end and your end? Does it have to be one person? Can it be a combination of people or types?

  4. Time. What are your expectations around timing? Is this an urgent or later-term need? Is it a one-time problem or ongoing?

The answers to these questions will provide you with a deeper understanding of your customer’s problem—and any expectations for a solution. Include your customer’s answers to these questions in your value proposition statement.

Your Company’s Side 

The second part of a good value proposition is based on what your company can do as a business. It’s how you can uniquely solve their problems with a deeper understanding and better ability to execute than your competitors. You’ve already asked important questions and gathered the information to help tailor your solution to their specific needs. Now weave that information into a specific message to your customer. Include the following: 

  • Industry messages

    that communicate an understanding of the sector.

  • Issue messages

    that communicate your value around issues the customer knows.

  • Differentiating messages

    that stake a claim and point of view, on what your company thinks about the business.

  • Capability messages

    that articulate how your company can get it done and fulfill on that promise.

  • Financial messages

    that demonstrate the value the customer will gain.

  • Personal messages that acknowledge the style and preferences of the buyer. 

When crafting your value proposition, include both your perspective (in terms of what you can offer) and the perspective of your customer (in terms of what they need). If you’re successful with this message—and what you can execute—then you may have something unique that will set your company apart and give you an advantage.


About the Author

Mark Donnolo is managing partner of SalesGlobe and author of The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results and What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation. He focuses on helping companies grow profitably by developing and implementing strategies that improve the effectiveness of their customer-facing sales, marketing, and service organizations. His areas of focus include sales strategy, customer segmentation, channel strategy, sales organization design and deployment, performance management, and incentive compensation. Mark’s work spans several industries, including technology, telecommunications, business services, manufacturing, and financial services.

Mark is the author of Quotas! and Essential Account Planning.

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