So How’s That Value Prop Thing Working Out For You?


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The subject of value propositions comes up again and again in ESR’s discussions with our clients. Many believe they have a strong, differentiated value proposition, but can’t seem to leverage it competitively in the markets into which they sell.  And after we perform our sales effectiveness assessment, it turns out their value propositions aren’t as strong as our clients think they are.  Even if they were, having a strong value prop is only half the story.  Providing the learning, tools, reinforcement, and ongoing recalibration so that salespeople can deliver their company’s value prop to the right audience at the right time with the right message is a big challenge itself. Sadly not enough companies get that right either.  (This all falls under the umbrella of sales enablement and could easily be the subject for a hundred—or a thousand—blog posts.)

Holden International distinguishes between value statements and value propositions.  Value statements to them are generalized, for a market, market segment, or certain set of potential targeted customers within that market.  On the other hand, their value proposition is a very specific message which includes the quantified business value that the seller asserts the customer will realize.  Holden’s style of value proposition is built only after significant work directly with the customer.  Most interpretations of the term value proposition align with Holden’s value statement.

Corporate Visions is one of a number of companies that focuses on value messaging. With their customer they develop the messages, build the tools, and train the salespeople on how to deliver those messages.

Since 2005 when we founded ESR, I hadn’t invested much time on further development of our value proposition.  Most recently, as ESR is changing our business model, we retained a consultant whom I had the opportunity of working with briefly for Vineyard Power here on Martha’s Vineyard.  Patrick Phillips is terrific at building value propositions through recognition and articulation of brand attributes.  He took us through a series of three 3-hour exercises which resulted in three distinct, but related value propositions:

  • Our core value proposition: ESR maximizes the value of the relationship between the sales training buyer and the sales training provider through our knowledge base, experience, and guidance in making the right decision.
  • For sales training buyers: ESR’s approach to evaluating sales training providers enables corporations to select training partners who will most positively impact their sales performance.
  • For sales training providers: ESR enables sales training providers to be considered and selected in opportunities where they can best impact sales performance.

Gets right to the point for each audience, right?

What brings all this to mind was a series of sessions I did last week in Dublin for alumni of the highly acclaimed International Selling Programme.  You may remember a while back I raved about a book written by my friend Paul O’Dea, who contributed a case study to one of the sessions last week. Paul’s work with his clients on customer value propositions, determining (and, equally importantly sticking to) sweet spots, and what those clients want to be famous for (among other gut wrenching exercises) has made a significant difference for dozens of Irish companies determined to make a serious play in the international market.  Folks, this value proposition stuff really works.

Presently ESR is gearing up to launch our new website.  I’m happy with our value propositions.  I know we can deliver them effectively to the right audiences in the right way at the right time.  We’ve tested them in our target markets and the response has been more than encouraging.

What about your value proposition and your sales team?  Can they deliver a value proposition that grabs the attention and imagination of their customer and compels that customer to take action?  To want to hear more? To see why your company is different from the rest? If not, you’ve got some serious work ahead.

Photo credit: © Maksud –

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Stein
Dave specializes in helping his clients win critical B2B sales opportunities as well as helping them hire the best sales talent.Dave is co-author of Beyond the Sales Process. He wrote the best-selling How Winners Sell in 2004.


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