Stop Propositioning Value, Start Delivering It16

There is a lot of material out there discussing value propositions, best ways to present them to prospect. Some talk about the concept of “your unique selling proposition”, although at times the only unique thing in the formula is your prospect, not the value your marketing department developed in a vacuum. Given that, does it not make more sense to mutually define the value proposition?

If you rely solely “your unique selling proposition” it tends to lead to a very one sided conversation. It plays out like a real conversation, but because reps drive the conversation to show case their “unique selling proposition”, it is hard to make room for things that don’t lead the conversation to that specific predetermined end. With that, many ostensibly good conversations end up being unidirectional and information is not really exchanged, just filtered towards a given end. Sometimes it works, sometimes the prospect catches on and it doesn’t.

A better approach would be to strive for a process of “mutual definition of value”. A state arrived at through a mutual and interactive process of discovery. A process that allows the sales person to highlight those things that respond to the unique needs of each client, rather than funnelling the clients in the “your unique value proposition.” The same process that allows the client to discover and buy into the true value the product delivers to their unique situation.

Executing this is a lot easier than it sounds and done right a lot easier than many of the methods that profess to help you leverage “your unique selling proposition”. While the key is still in questioning skills, the art is doing it in a way that both focus the conversation while not limiting input by either party. An interactive process that starts at the discovery zone moves through the impact zone on the way to the mutual value zone; when done right value is ongoing.

The zone approach allows both parties to move to a common goal in a logical way. It is dependent on the sales professional understanding the full scope of the impact their product/service delivers, then having the confidence to put their filters aside, and allowing the client to lead them to where their product/service address the unique requirements of the prospect and fit their product and service to address that uniqueness. Clients are much more likely to engage and exchange if they are part of the process of defining the value, because often they discover things about their situation they hadn’t thought of or considered. With “unique selling proposition”, or even with value “proposition, the prospect is often left with the uneasy choice of agreeing or disagreeing with a predefined proposition that they did not play a role in defining.

A lot like seeing a play, either you like and identify with what the playwright has written, or you don’t, but in very few circumstances are you allowed or invited to participate in the performance.

Sell well,
Tibor Shanto, The Pipeline


  1. Sales Training

    Tibor, I really agree that if sales reps are putting all their energy into being unique, they’re focusing on some external contrived goal. I really like your definition of “mutual definition of value.”


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