Special Delivery: Making your Value Propositions Stick!

A carefully crafted value proposition is of no value if the recipient doesn’t see the value! Far too often, we take the “Field of Dreams” approach that assumes that our prospective buyer will easily recognize the benefits of our proposal and act accordingly. This leads to a tendency to hold back when we present, for fear of insulting that person’s intelligence. “I’ve made this so obvious that they’re bound to get it, and make the desired commitment”—famous last words!

Think of your value proposition as the first draft of an agreement. If you can look at it that way, then it’s only natural to work toward getting buy-in on each and every aspect of your proposition. The only safe assumption is that your client doesn’t perceive what you’re proposing to be of compelling value. If you start from there, then the presentation becomes a process of building layer upon layer of agreement with your client about the contents of your value proposition.

The best way to find out if a client agrees with your proposition is to ask them! While that may sound incredibly simplistic, it’s absolutely true. For a variety of reasons, we as salespeople tend to “work around the edges” as opposed to asking direct questions about the validity of what we’re proposing. Not asking a direct question allows us to delude ourselves into thinking that the client is buying what we’re selling. That feels good, but can lead to a very uncomfortable outcome. Checking for understanding and agreement should be done in a tactful and professional manner—and by doing so we show that we salespeople really do care what our clients think!

A well-delivered value proposition stimulates a great conversation instead of a bad argument. The easiest way to avoid the latter is to not think about who’s “right” or who’s “wrong”. This is when the spirit of “give and take” should be top of mind. Sometimes we act like a defense attorney delivering his/her closing remarks in a jury trial, railing on and on about the rightness of our case. In sales, we can be absolutely “right” and have nothing material to show for it. Most sales managers are more concerned about how many orders we’ve written as opposed to how many arguments we’ve won…

Success happens when your value proposition becomes your client’s value proposition. The goal of your presentation is “transfer of ownership” of the proposal from you to your customer. There will be a discernible change in their choice of words when that “golden moment” occurs. Listen for it! As soon as you hear it, start talking about it, recognizing that the proposal has a new happy home! Now we begin to reinforce the idea that our buyer has made the right decision. And don’t be offended if your client makes it sounds as if your proposal was their idea—that really was the original goal, right?