TALKING SALES 114: "Jointly crafting a buyer's value proposition"

John Smibert

Value Proposition2            "Developing and leveraging the customer value proposition" - Interview by John Smibert.

What is a customer unique value proposition? Why is it important and how do we leverage it?

In my last discussion with Bill Carson he told us how to take the customer on a thinking journey.  When the thinking journey has reached a destination we have identified a new and valueBill Carsonable business scenario for the customer to which we are going to propose a solution.  This raised the question of how this value needs to be expressed in the value proposition,  I asked Bill what he means by 'Value Proposition'

He said what we need to be bringing to the table to our prospective buyer is this whole concept of value. We must have a "creating value" mindset from the unique perspective of the buyer.

Bill then goes on to explain how we need to develop and position the value proposition for each individual involved in the decision.  Bill has a clear view on this subject which salespeople will find interesting and valuable.

See the full discussion below.


Bill Carson is an alchemist in Sales Mastery, Service Excellence and Personal Leadership. He provides Coaching, Training and Consulting.


John: Hello, I've got Bill Carson with me again - welcome back, Bill!

Bill: Thanks, John - great to be back again!

John: Hey Bill, we had a great discussion last time about questions - about discovery - about taking the customer on a thinking journey - and I love that terminology. In thinking about discovery, at the end of that you obviously need to work out how you're going to bring some value to the table or help the customer think through how they will create value, so the subject of value proposition is something I'd like to discuss. When we use the words "value proposition", what comes to mind to you? What do you mean by value proposition?

Bill: Yes, it's a great question. See, what we need to be bringing to the table to our buyers, to our prospects is this whole concept of value and having a "creating value" mindset.

John: But from a customer's perspective, not from our perspective.

Bill: Yes, absolutely - big distinction, very, very important. Now, words that are being put around that these days are commercial insights for example. So, in preparing our value proposition and thinking about it and the person that we're meeting with, what we've got to recognise is that the value proposition elements are specific to individual buyers that we're meeting with. For example, procurement have a version of value proposition that's different to HR, that's different to an economic buyer or the buyer that's got the money, who got the budget.

John: To the CEO to anybody. Everybody's got a different perspective on a subject.

Bill: Exactly, yes. It's our capacity to generate our conversation, our questions that are aligned specifically to that individual's needs, issues, challenges, problems and opportunities, and then we align our value proposition to that individual, which becomes a total commercial insight value proposition overall.

John: Overall. I think you just might have answered the question, but you're saying the value proposition will be tailored for each individual you're talking to, but you're talking about one common value proposition that is adapted for each individual?

Bill: Yes, I think so. I mean, definitely... Sometimes it can vary though, in the sense that there's an overall strategy value offering that you're going to be bringing to the overall client in terms of what you've identified, and how that gets articulated to each particular key decision maker is critically important.

John: Earlier in this conversation you've used the words "commercial insight" and "value proposition" almost in the same sentence, to mean the same thing. Now, I'm not sure you meant that. To me, bringing commercial insight to the table is something we do with a customer, and out of that may flow a new way of thinking for the customer that ultimately drives the value in their business. The commercial insight is not the value proposition, the value proposition is likely to flow from that thinking discussion you have around the commercial insight.

Bill: Yes, absolutely. But it's critically important to recognise the two of them, because often what we can go into is our value proposition which becomes and imposing process, whereas if we are coming at it from a blending of the commercial insight, how we're bringing some differentiation in the thinking, and then how our value proposition, how we differentiate ourselves from our competitors, or what they currently do in the status quo relative to the importance to each individual is critically important.

John: And you touch there on the subject of value proposition to some people is something we create before we even meet with the customer, and that's not a value proposition. That may be an elevator speech or whatever; it's something we do to try and bring value to customers. But it's not until you're having the dialogue, the thinking dialogue with your customer, that you get to a value proposition that's unique and special for that customer.

Bill: Exactly. And if we think of the words, it's the proposition of value, the proposing of value. So, it's fundamentally... You can only be proposing value when you've got a really good understanding of what the needs are, because otherwise if you go in with your value prop that you've worked out, it's really only advantages or features.

John: Okay, so let's draw this to a conclusion. The real key message that you're bringing to the table, as I understand it, is that a value proposition, you'll have an overall strategic value proposition, but you need to then adapt and tailor that to every individual you're talking to within an organisation to make sure it's clear in their mind, and ultimately to get the group of people together, understanding what their value is, but being able to collaboratively make that decision.

Bill: Yes, absolutely. And what's critical around that, John, is that you've got to have figured out what the dialogue will be, what will be the questions that you ask that will help bring the buyer to their own conclusions, as I touched on in an earlier session together, that aligns the value prop with their needs.

John: I love it - very succinct, and thank you very much! I think there'll be a lot of value to the audience out there, Bill.

Bill: Thanks, John - pleasure! And we'll talk about other aspects when we get together again soon.


See further discussions with Bill Carson:



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