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Here’s the crux of the issue, a compelling value proposition needs to focus on how your customer perceives value. So, when my cycling buddy rang to see if I wanted a ride over the weekend, he was surprised when I answered no!! I never turn down the opportunity for a cycle, so why did I?

The simple answer it was too cold, and the log fire was beckoning. But it is one of those things that companies and salespeople frequently struggle with; articulating with clarity exactly what their compelling value proposition is.

The focus of a compelling value proposition

Put simply, a value proposition is a statement of why a customer should select your product or service. It focuses on how your customers perceive value. Or perhaps put another way, it demonstrates how you can solve a business problem where you have special attributes that very few others have.

Three questions to answer

There are many frameworks that can be used to create a value proposition, most having their roots in Michael Porter’s Value Chain Maps. The Harvard Business School suggest that there are three questions that need to be answered;

  • Which customers are you going to serve?
  • What needs are you going to meet?
  • What relative price will provide your customer with acceptable value and profitability?

I have taken the Harvard Business School thinking and created a framework which has been used many times to help clients think through what their value proposition should be.

Value proposition template

The JA Consulting Value Proposition Template expands on Harvard’s three questions and adds some other additional topics to consider.

The template encourages you to approach the challenge from a customer’s perspective. And the one question that always gets our clients thinking is, “What are your customers not going to be able to continue doing as a result of using your service?” It really does focus the client into understanding what the customer needs and, if embraced, the end result is a compelling proposition.

Take into consideration customer pain points

Clearly is important to make sure you’ve understood your customer’s pain points and I’ve often referenced back to a model by Michael Skok, published in Forbes many years ago.

In a complex B2B situation we should focus on problems that are Blatant and Critical. These are problems that hinder a business being successful. Latent problems on the other hand are frequently not acknowledged and require a much more costly evangelical sales approach.

Check that the proposition is compelling

I’ve used the Value Proposition template many times in the past to successfully create and take new propositions to market.

One of the tests I often have used is to apply Steve Blanks formula, which goes something like this:

We help (x) do (y) by doing (z)

If I can’t write it down, then it’s back to the drawing board to see what I’ve missed.

And a final thought – when my cycling buddy next asks me to go out on a ride, provided there’s no rugby on the TV, it’s not freezing cold, the answer will be ‘yes’. He knows I want to remain fit for when the warmer weather returns.

Stay safe and well

Chris Smith
Email: chrissmith@jaconsulting.co.uk
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/chrissmithperborough

About Chris Smith - Chris has considerable experience of leading complex projects involving multiple stakeholders and third parties across public and commercial sectors. He is passionate about sales and business development and has the good fortune to have worked for, and with many of, the world’s leading technology companies. Chris has over 30 years of experience of winning and delivering innovative technology solutions into a variety of different industry sectors, ranging from £100k to £20m+.


At JA Consulting we help businesses and individuals take the theory of selling and put it into practice. We’re here to help you learn how to spot and grow business opportunities, how to develop strong and transferable selling skills and how to generate robust account management.

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