When Value Props Flop
It’s easy to know when your value proposition is working because it’s resonating with the people you are talking to, and they are responding. They are saying things like “I need that” or “Can you do that for me?” (music to my ears.) When you receive a response like that it means you have identified your customer’s problem or an opportunity that is exciting to them, they understand it and they want it.
But, sometimes you don’t hear that, and that’s when you know something is wrong with your value prop.
Here is how you know when your value prop has flopped:
- You get a blank stare when you use it.
- You have to explain to them why it’s a “Win-Win.”
- Your contacts don’t answer your emails.
- Your contacts don’t answer your phone calls.
- Your contacts won’t introduce you to the other buyers even when that would help your contacts get what they say they want.
- They have other priorities or don’t have a budget right now.
4 Reasons Value Props Flop
1. Your value prop is seller-focused.
If your value proposition is focused on your company or product and what it does, it is what my friend Lisa Dennis calls “Inside Out.” That means it is looking inward instead of outward. For value propositions to be effective they have to be outward-focused; ideally, customer-focused. Value propositions that work focus on the problem or opportunity your customer has, then explain how you solve it and what is unique about that. They always start with the customer.
2. Your value prop doesn’t highlight true differentiators.
An effective value proposition differentiates you, your company, and your products from all other solutions out there. The problem is that most companies can’t figure out what their differentiators are. One easy way to do that, short of asking your customers, is to imagine that you are giving your customers a list of strengths and after each one, they say, “So what? What does that do for me?” and then when you answer they say, “Prove it!” If it is something that is true of your company and not your competitors, and your customer cares about it, and you can prove it’s true, you have identified a differentiator. The “How we do it differently?” or “What is Unique about the way we solve your problem?”
3. Your value prop doesn’t focus on the buyers and their problems.
Most sales and marketing messaging is focused on products, features, and benefits. Customers are focused on problems and opportunities. Customers don’t care about your product or how it works unless it solves a problem for them or provides a critical opportunity. If they aren’t feeling real pain or don’t see real growth opportunities, then nothing you say about your product will resonate with them.
4. Your value prop hasn’t been personalized.
What matters to the CEO is different than what matters to the CFO or CMO, CSO etc. Very few value propositions are one-size-fits-all. If your messaging doesn’t speak specifically to the problem your buyer needs to be solved, then it isn’t going to be effective.