A winning value prop tells a story about a real problem – and puts real real monetary value on the solution. The best way to create the kind of value proposition your prospect is looking for is by addressing a need.
Let’s talk about what value is – and what value isn’t. In B2B sales, value is the financial benefit that you get in excess of the price that you pay for a solution.
For example, if you’re evaluating a solution that costs $30,000, and you expect to get $300,000 in incremental revenue – the value that you receive is $270,000. ($300,000 minus $30,000)
This is an important principle to understand when you’re selling or doing a demo with a prospective buyer: They’re going to be evaluating a number of different providers in the process, and they’re going to be providing a number of different value stories.
The more clearly you can communicate the financial reward that they’ll receive in excess of the price they will pay, the more effectively you can communicate the value.
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How to NOT to talk about value
There are a lot of misconceptions about what “value” is. It’s often is described as “more features for less money.” The problem with this definition is that the value that you receive from a solution is not in the input or what you put into the solution.
It’s what you get out of it. Value is the financial benefit.
We often have this misunderstanding of what value really is, because of the way that it’s talked about – in terms of going to the grocery store and getting a good value, or when you get a good value from all the stuff within the package of some offering. That’s not value.
And that’s not what your prospect is looking for.
Step 1: What’s the problem?
Now that we’ve defined what value is – and isn’t – let’s talk about how to communicate value effectively.
The first principle in our value communication framework is defining the problem. This is one of the most important steps and often overlooked steps in communicating value.
People often skip right to the second step, which we’ll talk about in a minute, but establishing the problem is the very first step when communicating with your buyer.
There are two parts to establishing the problem. The first is making the problem vivid. The second is tying a financial cost to the problem.
Let’s take a very poor example of communicating a problem: “Joe, your sales reps are spending too much time researching their prospects.” To which Joe might reply, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
Here’s a better way of communicating a problem: “Joe, have you ever walked the sales floor and noticed that it’s just dead quiet?”
There’s nothing more frustrating as a sales leader to get out and see that none of your sales reps are on the phone, and I’m sure you’ve been in this situation before. You walk out there. It looks like they’re busy. They’re pushing around buttons on their computer. They’re typing. They’re bouncing from website to website, from their email to news sites, trying to learn a little bit about their prospects before they call them.
“They spend all of this time in prospect research, just to spend a few, short minutes on the phone. This should be a scary proposition for you, Joe, because every minute they spend in research is a minute that they’re not spending on the phone.”
If you think about how much you’re paying these sales reps – typically, between $60,000 and $80,000 just in base salary a year – that’s $15,000 to $20,000 if they’re spending two hours a day conducting research. You’re paying that amount for the research that they’re conducting.
This is a very real problem that has very real costs tied to it.
Step 2: Show the benefit of your solution
Today, we’re going to talk about step two, the solution to that problem. Now we all know that sales reps are trained to sell a solution and most often, where they focus their energy is on the features of a solution.
While selling a solution is important, it’s not where the bulk of their energy should be spent.
If you think about features, features are the aspects of a product that deliver the value. A feature might be “We have dual plugs!” But what the heck is a dual plug, and what benefit does it actually provide?
Sales teams need to spend more time focused on the actual benefit, the “so what” of the dual plug, and what it actually provides. An example of this is one of the features of the DiscoverOrg platform is that we offer direct dial phone numbers.
A benefit statement addresses what the feature means for you.
That means that when you get on the phone and you start to dial your prospects, you’re going to spend less time dealing with gatekeepers. You’re going to spend less time trying to navigate the corporate switchboard and ultimately, you’re going to make up to three times as many connections in an hour of prospecting than you would without the DiscoverOrg direct dial phone numbers.
Differentiate your solution
The third thing that you need to do effectively is differentiate. You have to know why your product is different than all the other products that are out there in the market.
This is probably the single most important way to communicating value, because at the end of the day, your buyers are going to meet with multiple providers, and they’re going to evaluate all these different solutions. The only thing that they’re going to remember is what’s different – so you’ve got to know how your product is different.
DiscoverOrg, for example, provides more direct dial phone numbers than any other provider on the marketplace. DiscoverOrg has a team of 250 researchers that conduct primary research on our data, verifying it from end to end – and that’s different from other data providers, who crowdsourcing or data aggregation on the web.
You can’t get granular, actionable insights that a real live researcher can get from a phone conversation or a survey about purchasing habits that are coming up for a particular organization.
That’s how you illustrate differentiation. You’ve got to know how you’re different. That’s what the prospect’s going to remember at the end.
Step 3: Articulate your value
The next step is the value or the result from the solution, and there are two parts to that.
The first part to communicating the value is the value driver. You have to communicate and understand what’s driving the value for the deal.
For example, in the case of DiscoverOrg, you’re going to book more meetings with prospects because you’re going to be talking to more prospects in a given hour. If every sales rep that your organization booked just one more meeting per week, that would result in 50 more meetings per year and with 50 more meetings per year, on average, 10% of those are going to close to one deals. Five more wins a year. That’s our value prop.
The second piece of it is the actual monetary value, or the ROI (return on investment). If you know that five more deals are going to close because of the meetings that you book, then you know, based on their average sales price, what that’s going to result in.
There’s some dollar figure associated with those extra wins. Maybe it’s $100,000 per rep. Put a number on it!
Step 4: Bring it all together with a story
The story brings the value proposition all together. But it’s not just any story.
It’s a story that incorporates these three points: the problem, the solution, and the value. It should be a specific example of a customer that you have; or, if you don’t have any customers yet, use an example of how this has worked for others in another industry.
Case studies make great customer stories. Develop stories that include a situation (pain point), action (purchase of your product), and result (ROI) – and include these in your sales collateral.Develop several case studies, one for each industry or line of business you sell into.
“… Now that’s the kind of result that I know, you, Mr. Prospect, will see from our solution!”
Price is NOT part of the value proposition
If you find yourself competing on price, then you failed to effectively articulate value.
But I promise you that if you will go through each of these steps in your process of selling and marketing value by describing the problem effectively, communicating how your solution delivers key benefits that are different from other providers in the marketplace, and then communicating the tangible financial value that a prospect will get from your solution, and then close with a powerful customer case study example of how one customer had a specific problem that you solved it and deliver that value for them – you will be able to effectively articulate value and when it comes to discussing price.
And there won’t be a discussion about why your premium price is too expensive because the customer will understand why it’s worth it.
Whether you’re in sales or marketing, you can apply it to an email that you’re writing or website copy or maybe it’s a pitch that you’ve been working on. Go back and practice it again and again, and as you do that, it will become more natural to just speak this way.
You’ll find it difficult to focus on things like features because you know how important benefits and differentiators are.
And that’s exactly where you want to be. When your customers’ problems become your own, you’re talking the same language, sharing the same stories, and hopefully building a relationship that will last beyond the sale.