Writing an Effective Value Proposition: 3 Tips and 1 Example

November 13, 2014 Sam Laber

When cold emailing a prospect, your value proposition is the most integral part of the message. You essentially have 1-2 sentences to explain what your product is, what it will do for your prospect and how it will impact your prospect’s business. Oh — and be sure to throw in an impressive, but realistic stat in there somewhere too… buyers love stats.

Now, it’s true you can’t always be certain that what you’re saying is going to resonate, but here are a few things you can do to put your best foot forward.

1. Keep it short, keep it simple.

A massive challenge for every sales development rep when writing a value proposition is giving a brief account of their product without going overboard. Most reps have the tendency to get bogged down in features, but what buyers are really looking for is a solution. This in mind, make sure that your value proposition addresses a problem that you believe your prospect is currently facing, then tailor your pitch to highlight your product as a solution to this problem.

2. Don’t use extravagant stats

Another tendency reps have is to use overly aggressive stats to support their pitch. Here’s an example:

Dear Levi’s CMO,

Our marketing analytics solution allows retailers to visualize and segment customer data across web, mobile and store, which has helped businesses similar to Levi’s better allocate budget and achieve a 12% increase in total sales.

On the surface, this value proposition may seem okay, but let’s take a second look at that 12% number. In 2013, Levi Strauss did $4.68 billion in net sales (proof). If they were to increase sales by 12% in 2014, total sales would be $5.24 billion. Even if your solution costs $10 million (which we doubt it does), you are promising a $560 million lift in sales for an expected ROI of 5,600%.

Oops.

Long story short, know who you’re emailing and pick a stat that makes sense for that prospect.

3. Lay off the buzzwords

If you’ve ever watched Erlich Bachman’s vision quest on the HBO TV series, Silicon Valley, you probably know what we mean by buzzwords. (Think ‘cloud-based, digitally integrated multi-platform system optimized for the cloud’).

Using buzzwords is something reps tend to do without noticing, and it is often viewed as a signal of uncertainty. Think of buzzwords as an escape route — you aren’t really sure what is going to resonate with your prospect, so you use a buzzword as a catch-all solution.

Here’s a tip — after you’ve written your value proposition, read through it a few times and look for words or phrases that seem somewhat nebulous. A few of the usual suspects include:

OptimizeHow are you optimizing? Are you increasing, decreasing, maintaining, or replacing?

IntegratedWhat is being combined with what? To what end?

Next GenerationWhat makes it so cutting edge? Are you from the future?!

Granular: What layer does your solution peel back that others cannot? (This one is especially heinous.)

Sample value proposition

If you’re unhappy with your current product pitch, we’ve written a sample value proposition below based on that customer analytics solution in part 2. Note: the companies and numbers referenced are fake!

Our customer analytics solution is currently being leveraged by top retail brands like Calvin Klein and Reebok to identify which channels are generating the most sales across web, mobile and store. After using our product for 6 months, Reebok’s analytics team discovered that mobile was outperforming web, and was able to allocate more budget to mobile for a .8% increase in total sales.

Note how this example explains the value in simple terms, references a feasible stat and doesn’t go into depth on specific features. Hope you find it valuable! Feel free to share your comments below.

About the Author

Sam Laber

Sam is the director of marketing at Datanyze. He's a big John Hughes fan who occasionally fills the DZ office with the sweet sweet sounds of 90s rock giant, Creed.

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