A great value proposition is compelling, quantifiable, provable, referencable and easily explainable. Although your value proposition might not be all of this when you start, it’s one thing you should always be refining.
There are two types of benefits that can usually be attributed to a value proposition:
- Soft benefits can’t be quantified. They’re harder to sell because customers must have experienced the pain before to realize how important it really is. Examples of soft benefits are ‘increasing employee happiness,’ ‘improving the user experience’ or ‘providing better service.’ If an entrepreneur can quantify a soft benefit, it can be turned into a hard benefit.
- Hard benefits can be quantified and lead to a clear ROI. They are the easiest to sell because there’s a built-in way to calculate the value (it’s predictable). Examples of hard benefits are ‘increased conversion,’ ‘increased sales’ and ‘cost reduction.’ Hard benefits are the most attractive to B2B buyers.
In B2B customer development, you want to start with a broad definition of the problem, a problem widespread enough to attract several early adopters. It has to be a problem prospects are already passionate about, something on their radar (You can use value proposition hypotheses to explore opportunities).
A broadly defined problem has a higher likelihood of getting people excited. Prospects will build their own perceptions of the problem and invent the product in their minds.
Your value proposition should tell them: “We’re obsessed with this problem too,” and communicate the urgency of the problem.
You can use the elevator pitch format from Crossing the Chasm to get started:
For (target customers) who are dissatisfied with (the current market alternative). Our product is a (new product category) that provides (key problem-solving capability). Unlike (the product alternative), our product (describe the key product features).
To get a great value proposition, you need to test it out into the wild. Making revisions as you contact prospects is the only way to make it truly connect with prospects.
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