Friday, January 9, 2009

Why Value Propositions (Usually) Don't Work

Bill Caskey recently posted an insightful blog about value propositions and why many people's value statements don't actually do anything for them. Check out his advice on what's keeping your value proposition from getting you more clients.

1. Rush Too Quickly To The Words

Teams get too hung up in the words too quickly and fail to understand the value prior to putting it into words. Value/Message is like a puzzle you put together. And we can't know how to assemble it until we get all the pieces on the table.

2. It's Based On The Wrong Intent
If we take a vendor mentality (bad) we will craft this with the wrong intent...we'll craft it with the intent of selling someone something. Instead of the intent of "helping our customers solve problems and realize opportunities." Your value story should "attract" some and "repel" others. It must take a stand.

3. Sterilized Message Speaks to No One
The message becomes too sterile and intellectual - and lacks the soul of the business. People make the difference so it needs to give voice to people (prospects) not just to statistics (although they are important too). Group mission statements usually end up like that. Salespeople won't use it.

4. Filter Through Old Thinking
Too many 'false filters.' This means that if we assume that a prospect only has 30 seconds to hear the story then we'll craft it for 30 seconds. I don't think Stephen King says, "I need to get this story told in 25 pages." It's more important that the story is compelling first - then work on how long or short it is. Prospects will carve out a lot of time to talk about themselves - not so much to talk about you.

5. No Platitudes, Claims or Opinions
Companies make this a bullet-pointed list of claims, platitudes and opinions. That doesn't compel a prospect to change. What compels a prospect to change from their current situation is if they feel they pay a penalty NOT to change. That's what we need to get to.

Apple has done a great job of this. Are their PCs faster? Not sure. But you don't find many people switching from Mac back to Dell. Once we tell this story, the prospect should either say, "How quickly can we get started with you?" Or, "This is not for us. You need to leave now." Either answer is OK. What's not OK is, "That's very nice. Thanks for coming in."

6. We Don't Change the Game

When you're crafting your message, that's the time we can change the game. Instead of thinking of ourselves as a traditional category (Accountants, Trainers - whatever your category is) is there another way to describe you? Are we OK if prospects lump us in that category? Is that what we want to be known as? Is that where we can grow and be profoundly successful? Change the game. Change the rules - and the results will change.

Bill Caskey is the President of Caskey, a training firm that specializes in training and developing B2B sales teams through face to face training, teleconferencing, written materials, custom podcasts and one on one coaching. Learn more at

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