Interesting guest post by Gordon McAlpine, Entrepreneur, Tech Scale Up Advisor, C4 Secret Millionaire, Business Fellow.
To be able to scale up your business and sell your product effectively, you’ll need to spend some quality time on the value proposition, as it’s at the heart of everything you do to sell and scale up. It’s the first, hugely important stage, which you need to get absolutely right.
The value proposition can be quite a technical area of sales (and many books have been written on this topic), but I’m going to try to keep it nice and easy for you. In a nutshell, it’s about developing your ability to articulate confidently, in a relaxed, ‘non-salesy’ way, why people should buy your product, which I’ll detail below.
‘It’s important to mention that you do need to have a decent product in order to put together a strong value proposition. If you’re not making many sales with your current product despite having tried for some time, a revised proposition may help you, but it might also be time to look for a new product!
— Christopher Byrne. (@chris_byrne) February 10, 2017
Now for a quick product reality check – I believe you must meet these three criteria to have a chance of scale-up success:
- Have a product which has the potential to deliver significant value to your target customers – to address their pain points and needs.
- Be passionate about your product and the difference it makes. (You can have multiple products as long as they support the main product, but if you have a small sales team, multiple products can complicate the message and dilute the focus.)
- Have a product that can be sold and delivered consistently without customisation. A bespoke product will undermine your sales activity because you’ll be so busy customising that you will be distracted from your focus on sales, which in turn will hamper your potential to scale up.
So you passionately believe you have a good product and there appears to be a need for it, or at least evidence that people want to buy it, but sales growth is probably slower than you had hoped for. How do you make your proposition more compelling, so that it grabs people’s attention every time they see it or every time you say it?
World-class propositions from world-class companies
I think it’s worth taking a quick look at an example of how a great company communicates its proposition. It’s unlikely a company will become one of the world’s best without an exceptional proposition.
I’ve always been a fan of Apple and, whether you’re also one or not, it seems to me that their philosophy has stayed true to Steve Jobs’s original vision: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly.”
So why is this proposition so effective? Well, this example focuses more on the reason they are in existence and their mission. It doesn’t explain in detail what they do, or mention the specific benefits of their business and products.
I’ve always believed that this is a very strong, non-salesy way to deliver your proposition when you first engage with prospects.
Now that you have a feel for what a good proposition looks like, the next stage is building the logical benefits and the value of using your product, as potential customers will need to hear about these at some stage.
Jot down these four key questions to ask yourself:
- What does your product do? Focus on core benefits, not features.
- What will happen for your prospects when they have it? Make sure everything you say is framed from the customer’s viewpoint, not your viewpoint.
- What will happen if they don’t have it? Most people have a fear of being left behind by their competitors – this is worth playing on!
- What value will your product provide to your customers? Put a value on using your product in terms of money saved, money made, time saved, productivity gained etc. Your potential clients will expect this. Customer examples and testimonials are important to back up return on investment (ROI) data, but use examples relevant to the specific customer, otherwise it looks like name dropping.
The perfect proposition
In order for you and your team to sell successfully, buyers will need to feel that they have bought into your story emotionally. They also need to have analysed your product and be clear on the logical benefits before they can be confident about investing in your product.
The answers to the questions you have asked yourself should have enabled you to draft a proposition with both emotion (which creates desire), and logic (which creates confidence).
Developing a crystal-clear proposition is not easy, so what you have come up with so far may well need some fine-tuning. But you will probably not be a million miles away, so don’t be afraid to continue to tweak and refine the wording until you feel it is spot on. You will know that you have got it right when saying it out loud makes you feel proud, passionate and confident – and the person you’re saying it to should feel excited, energised and inspired.
Once you have this, the final thing is to practise your proposition. As an aspiring entrepreneur, you need to be able to get this right when the pressure is on and you’re standing in a big pitch with some huge potential clients. Your proposition must just roll off the tongue in a way that makes the audience sit up and think, “That sounds really excellent; I’m seriously impressed by this company!”
Scale Up Millionaire by Gordon McAlpine is out this month, priced £11.99 (published by Rethink Press). For more information, visit www.gordonmcalpine.co.uk