Whether you fall into the category of a salesperson or a recruiter, you have undoubtedly crafted a value proposition at one point or another. But not all of us are writers, and many of us can’t see the forest through the trees. As advocates for our organization, we can easily become lost in the details. As a result, our prospects listen to a jumbled, rambling mess rather than a concise positioning statement. Crafting a simplistic, unique, and compelling value proposition that you can deliver in 10-15 seconds takes process. According to Rain Group's process for building a value proposition, you have to resonate with the prospect, differentiate your offering from competitors, and substantiate your prior two statements with tangible proof. And if your current value proposition lacks any of the aforementioned elements, you can and will lose opportunities.
The majority of value proposition “how-to’s” will tell you to start by defining a problem set or customer pain points. While that approach certainly works, to resonate is to take customer pain points a step further.
While the basic definition refers to sound, try to think about it in abstract terms. When have you watched or read about something that filled you up with emotion? Whether that emotion was joy, frustration, empathy, sadness, etc., the idea is that a tangible element connected itself to your emotions- and it left a lasting impression on you. To resonate is to demonstrate an understanding of your prospect’s operating reality and connect both logic and emotion to your product or service.
Questions to consider when trying to resonate:
What business am I in?
Who am I talking to? (Think about this person's age, role, title, and pain points)
What would this person want from me?
What are my product's/service's key benefits?
How do these benefits connect to this person's operating reality?
What could they expect as an outcome should they choose to continue the conversation? (Tap into their ego, make them the hero!)
"To disrupt the status quo, you must know the status quo." - Linda Richardson
So you’ve got the "resonate" portion of your value proposition down, but your prospect will not buy based on ideas and empty promises alone, especially if whatever need they have is already being served internally or by a competitor. This part is arguably the most important part of your value proposition, because it communicates (or fails to communicate) why your product/service is different or more efficient.
Questions to consider when trying to differentiate:
Who currently addresses my prospect's pain points and what is their approach?
Who are my competitors? (Direct and indirect)
How is my offering different?
How does my offering address my prospect's pain points more effectively?
So you’ve identified the message that will resonate with your prospect and differentiated yourself from competitors- that’s still not enough! You cannot get the sale without a customer relationship, you cannot build a customer relationship without some degree of trust, and you cannot establish trust without having a chance to prove yourself. Substantiating your value requires tangible results in the context of your prospect’s operating reality. You can substantiate your claims in a number of ways, but offering a way for your customer to get to know you/your service with the minimal amount of risk on their part is absolutely essential. Product demos, thought leadership, case studies, or testimonials can all serve as potential trust builders.
Questions to consider when trying to substantiate:
Why should my prospect care about what I have to say?
What experience do I have in my prspect's industry/vertical?
What makes me credible?
What makes my company credible?
In a direct sales or recruiting capacity, your value proposition can and should differ from call to call. But when you can answer each of these questions without hesitation, you will have the framework for an agile value proposition that enables you to turn your ramblings into big picture concepts.