In my last blog post, I talked about the real need to fully understand and communicate what drives the buyer to buy – figuring out and netting out the most important Value Drivers as a key component of a Value Proposition Platform™. Now, let’s zero in on the really tough part: how to quantify the importance of that value, and to offer solid proof that your product delivers that value. As part of my Value Proposition Platform™, these three elements – Value Drivers, Quantification, and Proof Statements – to back up your value proposition are critical to meeting the needs and piquing the interests of various buyers, and to ensure proper focus on what buyers need at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Here is a list of value drivers for our example company that is focused on finding a vendor that has good market analytics information. These represent the key values that are front of mind for them in their vendor evaluation.
Each of these value drivers need to be backed up with Quantification and Proof to validate and make them real for the buyer. Let’s at the finer points of quantifying and offering proof.
- Quantification involves data, statistics, survey / research results from a relevant source, awards, expert research or evaluations, or improvements / reductions in attributes like revenue or costs.
- Proof consists of quotes from experts, testimonials from clients or partners, market analyst quotes or reports, outside research studies, case studies, facts from industry sources, or other evidence from objective third-party sources.
The next step is to build a case for the Value Driver, to make it tangible. If the buyer values the “Immediacy” of information about their brand, then how can we quantify the importance of that driver? It’s the “show me, don’t just tell me” that supports the underpinning of your overall value proposition. There are a variety of ways to quantify this. Depending on the status of your offer, whether it is new or well-established, there are multiple options for quantification.
Options for Quantification
- Data from customer results ($ or % values)
- Aggregated data from a group of customers ($ or % values)
- Statistics from an industry expert that support the intent of the Value Driver
- Survey or research results with attribution from an industry relevant source
- Industry or expertise award or mention for that particular value point
- Documented improvements / reductions in attributes like revenue / costs
In the case of a brand-new product or service where you do not yet have actual customers, explore what is possible by doing some research for supporting quantification points. Reviewing outside secondary research can be very helpful. Or, you can conduct your own primary research via surveys or buyer interviews. But until you do this step, your new product or service Value Drivers will be just ideas.
It is important here to note that this must be factual information, attributed to a credible external third party who is talking about the substance of the Value Driver. It can be specifically about your product / service or be factual data about the topic. This is absolutely necessary to build credibility around the premise that your offer delivers on this value point for the buyer.
The final piece of your Value Proposition Platform is providing the proof points that will support all your value messaging. This step is key to backing up all the major statements you are making about your product or service. It is the concrete that helps solidify the offer in the eyes of the prospect or customer. It is the key tool that all salespeople need to move a buyer through the later stages of the buying process.
To make your value proposition stand out, your Value Drivers need to be relevant, quantified, and provable. Why? Because otherwise you are just delivering “marketing speak” that may sound pretty but is not believable to your audience. Buyers are sophisticated and can gather plenty of information about your offerings and their validity on their own. By providing “Proof,” you can shorten the sales cycle, address uncertainties early in the process, and set your offer apart from alternatives.
So, what does Proof look like in the context of a value proposition? Ideally, you should have 1-3 proof points to support each Value Driver and its quantification. As a product or service offering ages, you can replace weaker proof points with stronger ones—better customer testimonials, stronger case studies, perhaps more awards.
Options for Proof
- Quotes from experts
- Partner testimonials
- Market Analyst quotes & reports
- Factoids from key industry sources
- Client testimonial
- Outside research studies
- Case studies
Think of Proof as an objective and unbiased opinion to support the fact that your offer delivers on the Value Driver. When you are looking for Proof points, consider what your specific audience will see as valuable input to their decision-making process. Try to view all of this through your prospects’ eyes.
To get started, answer the following questions:
- Do we have customers that have agreed to give us a testimonial statement or participate in a case study that is relevant to this offering?
- Do we have partners that can provide or have provided a testimonial statement or participated in a case study?
- Which key industry groups do our audience turn to?
- Are there any industry market analysts that are talking about our product or service category?
- Are there any significant industry research studies within the past year or so that would be relevant to this offering?
Compile the results of these questions, then evaluate which pieces of information would provide the most credible Proof of the Value Drivers. Keep in mind that you do not want to rely on “weak” Proof. Evaluate all the proof points that you gather, then focus on the one or two for each Value Driver that are strongest and most relevant to the essence of that Value Driver. What if you can’t provide proof of any kind? That’s a strong sign that this value driver is inherently weak. Go back to your initial list of value drivers and see if you can develop a stronger one by adding quantification and proof. This process helps you really nail something strong that resonates with a buyer – as opposed to just a point that you want to drive that doesn’t have the gas to get you there!
If you are creating different versions of your value proposition, you may need to augment your drivers or replace some of them with others – depending on the markets and buyers that apply to the additional versions. If you have different titles that are part of a buying team, the salespeople will need Value Drivers, quantification, and proof points that are aimed at each key role. Some of your core Value Drivers will apply across buyer types, while others may be role or industry specific. The beauty of this modular approach is that you can add, move, or vary each piece to serve the buyer you are targeting – and still adhere to the integrity and consistency of the value proposition message you are trying to get across.
Looking for more value proposition ideas and approaches? Watch my webinar on the Sales Expert Channel on BrightTALK: Value Prop Clinic – Fixing a Broken Message