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Three essential ingredients for your value proposition

If you want to perfect your B2B value prop, it’s really helpful to have a time machine.  Just imagine it.  After any lost opportunity, you could get into your time machine and revisit the exact moment your marketing copy was misaligned to customer needs.  Or when your sales approach didn’t quite resonate with the customer. Or any of the many moments when crafting or presenting your value prop can go awry.

When the margin between winning and losing a sale is so narrow, as is common in competitive B2B markets, small value prop enhancements can make a big difference. That’s why a time machine is so handy.  But if you don’t have one (yet), here are a few value prop enhancement tips I hope serve you well:

1.       Bring razor-sharp relevance

Recently a group of B2B buyers was asked “What’s the biggest problem with the value props presented to you by B2B sellers?”  By far the biggest problem – seen in 49% of value prop presentations – was irrelevance.  It’s a mistake I’ve made, and seemingly many others have, too.

When a value prop is presented to a customer without a deep understanding of customer needs, it generally combines relevant details with irrelevant details.  The irrelevant details don’t just waste a customer’s time, they hinder the sales opportunity.  Irrelevant details heighten customer sensitivity to price, as they provoke that ‘paying for stuff I don’t need’ feeling.  And they can negate the customer intimacy generated by the relevant details because they prove that the seller doesn’t fully understand the buyer.

But when marketing and sales work together to learn about a customer – e.g. with smart questions informed by industry segment trends, experiences with similar customers, and even insights into the customers of a customer – value props are immediately sharpened.

Additionally, when marketing helps sales open a dialogue with multiple stakeholders in a customer organisation, it gives a seller the chance to learn about customer needs from multiple points of view, providing the full pie of customer needs rather than the thin slice that a single point of contact might provide.

2.       Differentiate with data

A salesperson I know recently went to a customer that was about to cancel a large subscription.  The customer didn’t think the value offered by the subscription justified the price.  This salesperson, armed with the right data, saved the subscription.

What was ‘the right data?’ Many of us B2B marketers have more data than we could use in a lifetime, so what’s the right data to show a customer in support of a value prop? In this case, it was the return on investment the customer was getting from using the solution, calculated as improvements in the customer’s effectiveness and efficiency.

The key here is that the data was about the customer, not about the solution.  Sure, it was supported by usage information and data on some relevant product features, but those are proof points that supported the ROI calculation. 

When B2B marketers put customer-centric data like ROI on the table, it helps change the conversation from price-and-discounting to needs-and-solutions.  And it positions a seller as a true partner with the customer.

3.       Show them the love

When I was choosing a telemarketing agency to hire last year, I ultimately chose the one that most convinced me that, among other things, they care deeply about what I do.  They convinced me in a jargon-free and refreshingly human way that they would love helping me just as much as I love helping my customers.

Compare their approach with their competitors.

  • My agency: First they asked me questions about what I care about (ensuring my prospective customers would be treated with the utmost respect and professionalism) and why I care about it (because I love my prospective customers and feared unprepared telemarketers would not be helpful to my prospective customers).  Then they told me “We will not make a single phone call until you certify that the telemarketers are ready to represent your company.  We care about each one of your prospects and we wouldn’t waste their time with a less-than-stellar phone call.”
  • Two competing agencies: They asked me no questions, and pitched me with: “We can be dialling your prospects this week!”

The agency I chose had a value prop that showed me the love, and then backed it up by producing an eight-week long training plan for the telemarketers. 

In a time machine-less world, B2B marketers who equip their value props with relevance, data, and love improve their odds of winning their customers’ business.

I’m writing in the run up to speaking at the B2B Marketing Summit (17 June). If you’re interested in attending the Summit. Sign up