Why Are Most Value Propositions So Awful?

by Todd Youngblood

For the last 90 days or so, I’ve been asking customers, prospects – actually everyone I talk to – to quickly state the overall value proposition for their organization. I’ve been amazed at the dismal quality of the responses.

Over half fell into what I’ll call the “I dunno” category. There literally were a few that didn’t know! Most, being the quick-witted sales type, made something up on the spot. Some actually sounded pretty good, but it wasn’t all that hard to pick up on the ad hoc nature of the statement. (Do we really think customers don’t have a fine-tuned BS detector?) “Well, ya’ got me!” was the most common response to me directly asking if they had just made it up. The most depressing were those that said, “Hang on, I’ve got that here somewhere…,” or “Um, oh, ah I’m pretty sure it’s on the web site.”

Most of the rest prefaced their reply with, “We’re still working on it,” and/or “We’re not happy with it yet.” At least they have conscious recognition of the importance of a compelling value proposition.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m “not totally happy with The YSP Group overall Value Proposition, and we’re still working on it.” Here it is though: “A well-executed Sales Process Engineering initiative can generate an 8 to 12% annual, incremental increase in your effective sales capacity.” I like the fact that it’s customer-focused, quantified and acknowledges that there’s no magic; i.e., its’ got to be well-executed.

What’s your value proposition? What are the characteristics of a compelling, overall value proposition? Use the comment section below to share your wisdom.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Pat says:

    Todd,
    I like your value proposition, and you’re right, it’s probably better than 95% of what folks mistake for value propositions, but I will respectively suggest taking a slightly different approach.
    First, the best value propositions in complex sales are those that are aligned with what the customer told you is important. The problem with a value proposition like yours is even if it’s detailed, it’s also somewhat generic, which can be dangerous. But if you’re after that “Selling to VITO” opening statement, then . . .

    Ask yourself what metrics your ideal target buyer/prospect is usually most focused on. His “KPIs.” For a VP of sales I bet a safe guess is his Sales Conversion Rate, his ASP, his Sales Cycle Time, his Costs, and his Growth Rate. If you know of some very common initiatives or painpoints, add them in. How much do you impact those? I would argue the specifics (better sales process) of how you impact the Sales Conversion Rate (for example), come AFTER he’s acknowledged that higher level value is of interest to him. Otherwise, you’re literally giving him an opportunity to object. Put a different way, it’s rare the Sales VP who’s not interested in Improving their Conversion rate, but he could say some version of “I’m not interested in changing our Sales Process right now.”

    We’re in the middle of building a SaaS based offering so I unfortunately don’t have actual benefit percentages or dollar figures to share yet, but our value proposition will going something like:

    GetMyROI will help you improve your Lead/Deal Conversion Rate, ASP, and Sales Cycle time (by x,y,z) by providing your team with a simple way to better align and quantify your solution’s value with what matters to the customer. We help you focus on effectiveness vs efficiency.

    Just my .02

    pat@getmyroi.com

    BTW I found this post via an old tweet by Dave Brock who I’m be interacting with quite a bit lately, and couldn’t help myself but write a comment. Hope you don’t mind.

    • Actually, Pat, I think what you recommend needs to go even further. I’ll stick with the notion that a generalized, overall value prop is essential. Call it that. Also, a more customized value prop is needed for each customer and for each key player in each customer. Finally, a value prop is needed for each opportunity we pursue.

      It’s a collection of progressively more focused value props that wins the day.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!

      Todd

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