It’s 2014, by now I assume you are no longer relying on Palm Pilot, going to Blockbuster for your in-home movie entertainment, so why are you still relying “value propositions” in the hope of engaging with potential buyers and winning clients?
People love the term value proposition, so user friendly, none threatening, cute, warm, and safe. Some pundits going to great lengths to elevate it above other questionable and formerly popular predecessors such as “the elevator pitch”, a concept dating back to liftmen trying to improve their lot with an unsuspecting captive (trapped) audience. I guess at one point someone alerted sellers to the fact that the word ‘Pitch’ was not conducive to consultative selling. So things evolved to USP – Or “Unique Selling Proposition”, exalting the uniqueness of one’s offering. But uniqueness on a product level is rare, continuous uniqueness even more infrequent. In the end it is still about what is being sold, and as such, just an elevated pitch.
And so it evolved, buyers are obviously looking for ‘Value’, (no matter how it is defined, or more often, undefined), while allowing sellers to cling to a familiar concept, ‘Proposition’, thus giving us the ever popular: ‘Value Proposition”.
1. the act of offering or suggesting something to be considered, accepted, adopted, or done.
2. a plan or scheme proposed.
3. an offer of terms for a transaction, as in business.
While this may have played well in focus groups, the reality is that you can put lipstick on it, but it’s still a ‘Pitch’. As with many things in sales, the problem is less with the concept than the execution.
The challenge is that sellers are still going into to selling situations with pre-molded ideas of value for a generic group of people, and proposing that it will fir to a specific scenario. Even well-crafted value propositions, with good contribution from Marketing, are rooted in “here is why this is good for you”, and are then proposed – pitched to potential buyers. While many of the assumptions that go into the value prop are indeed accurate, they are often “proposed” in a very one directional fashion, much like a pitch.
The better alternative would be to use the key elements of the value proposition as a basis for discussion. Rather that a proposing value, it is much more effective to mutually define and develop value for the potential buyer. You can still leverage the same facts and factors, but it is more about the way you use them to initiate and craft a discussion that will not only allow you to gain a better understanding of the buyer, their requirements and objectives, but will engage the buyer in a much deeper and impactful way. This will allow you to arrive at a mutually agreed on points of value that the buyer can take on without feeling that it was thrust on them in a pre-fab fashion.
The only practical use for “value propositions” is to disqualify buyers who don’t fit your preconceived cookie-cutter notion of who your right buyer is. Change proposition to definition, and you will eliminate those buyer that won’t benefit from your offering, while allowing you to engage and capture a much broader range of buyers that those who fit the mold.