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“Create a value statement.” We hear this when we prepare to launch a new product or service, we tackle it when we put together a proposal draft, and sometimes our co-workers roll their eyes when we say we need to create one. The words “value statement” are starting to feel a bit cliché, like the sayings “in our wheelhouse” or “deep dive.” What does “value statement” mean, why should we care, and is it actually of value?
Let’s start at the beginning with the word value. One of Dictionary.com’s definitions of value is “to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.”
Value is not tangible, yet it is measured. It shows us what is worthwhile, useful, important, and excellent.
RAIN Group, a global sales training company, shares three rules for building a value proposition.
- Resonate. When something resonates, it creates a visceral response. Think of a trumpet playing taps or the sound of a train whistle in the distance.
- Differentiate. Competition is fierce. How do we set ourselves apart from the crowd? Do we “think different” like Apple? Do we “walk to the beat of a different drummer”?
- Substantiate. Something substantial is solid. We believe it because facts establish proof. When a message has substance, it is difficult to dismiss as inconsequential.
Even with this definition, we may still ask why we should care. Understanding the value of our offerings and their value in relation to our prospects is essential to our proposal’s success. So, how do we get there?
Review the websites of your prospects to fully understand what drives their priorities and the way they present themselves to their clients. What is their mission? What is the tone of their language? Once you know their mission, you can tailor your proposal to illustrate how your mission, origin, or vision for the future aligns with theirs. Resonate with your clients by speaking their language and customizing your solutions to their unique needs and priorities.
How do we know how, or even if, we’re different? Review your competitors’ materials (websites, past proposals, marketing collateral, etc.), compare their value statements to your own, and work with your team to create a distinction between your company and the competition. Differentiate yourself from your competitors, and you will stand out.
Share content of substance with your potential clients. Provide articles you have written, recent success stories, and instructional white papers. Don’t underestimate the power of a glowing testimonial. Substantiate the value of your product or service by exhibiting both your industry expertise and your clients’ appreciation of what you have to offer.
Take these three essential elements and boil them down to create your value statement: What resonates with your prospect + how you are different from your competition + the substantiation of your expertise = your value statement. It’s word alchemy!
Is taking the time to create a value statement truly valuable? Is it worth wrangling your product or service teams and making them discuss what sets your solution apart from the competition? Wouldn’t it be easier to send that boilerplate proposal that was created last year? That is an option. But in our world of fierce competition, the quickest answer is not usually the best. If you send a proposal that isn’t tailored to the prospect—it doesn’t resonate with them, doesn’t differentiate you, and doesn’t substantiate your expertise in direct relation to the prospect’s individual pain points—you’re wasting your time on proposals that aren’t likely to win the business.
Devin Dukes and Nicole Shaffer, CP APMP, are business development leads at BerryDunn, a New England-based certified public accounting and management consulting firm. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.