Your value proposition is the seed of all your business development conversations.
People don’t buy things they buy outcomes. Customers/clients don’t care about your products and services. The value people care about is in the outcome they desire, not the thing you’re selling. To stand out from the slush pile, your business development conversations need to be rooted in a compelling value proposition.
Your value proposition (or unique selling proposition) clearly tells your prospective customers/clients essential things they really care about before anything else you say will matter to them. Here are its components:
• what business your in (frame of reference) • whom you serve (target market) • what problems you solve / emotional needs you fulfill (desired outcomes) • what the benefits are (business value of the outcome) • what services/ what products (your offering) • what proof you have to deliver your promise (case stories, testimonials) • why your offering is preferable to available alternatives (genuine distinction)
In marketing parlance, this is called “positioning”. Positioning is the space your value occupies in a prospective customer’s mind. An effective positioning forms a collection of reasons clients / customers buy from you.
Positioning is the art of sacrifice. Your business has to stand for something specific and valuable. To make your business development conversations compelling to prospects, you can’t be all things to all people.
However, before your answers to the above questions will matter to a prospective client, there’s another essential piece to this puzzle you need to keep in mind. Your value proposition must:
Is there a real market for your product/service? Are people willing to exchange money for your proposition? What do people care about that you have a highly-valued solution for? Resonance is a natural law–like attracts like. Your value proposition has to matter to like minded people, or there’s no business.
Be known for providing only ONE highly-valued outcome. Be the “go-to” resource for solving a specific problem. Not a run-of-the-mill generalist clawing your way to the middle. Your value proposition must reinforce the idea your specialized expertise is not in abundant supply. How easy is it for clients to find a suitable substitute for your offerings? Your answer will reveal the amount of competitive advantage you’ll have in the sales cycle with prospective clients.
You must prove you can deliver on your promise of value. How have other clients benefited from your services? What compelling stories can you tell that inspire your prospects and relieve them of their natural tendencies to be wary and risk averse.
Put it all together in a simple and concise statement.
This is your positioning statement framework. It forms the essence of all your early-stage business development conversations. Your positioning statement guides all your marketing and business communications in person, on-line, and in all forms of marketing communication. As an example, here’s the positioning statement framework for the White Hot Center:
The White Hot Center is a business transformation consulting resource, (what it is) serving startup and mid market CEOs and their teams, (who it serves) who want more clarity and confidence to take their business to the next level, (client needs and desired outcome) to pursue their best opportunities to create more impact, influence and income. (the emotional benefit and business value)
Notice in the positioning framework I don’t lead by rattling off my services. My services are not the most important component of my value proposition. It’s not rocket science, but getting it precise requires some introspective thinking on your part.
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