Whether you are a financial services firm offering retirement plan services, an investment manager with a compelling line up of mutual funds or an investment advisory firm selling to high net worth individuals, you need to clearly and concisely state your value proposition. This is especially important in markets that are commoditized, such as the retirement plan marketplace, or when you compete against brand name firms and you are lesser known. A solid value proposition helps you win deals and gain new business. It helps prospective clients understand your value and give them reasons to select you over your competitors.

Your value proposition should:

  • Clearly state your unique differentiation ─ why a prospective client should work with you and not the competition
  • Outline specific benefits about your offering and answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) for your prospect.  Help them understand how what you do benefits them and fulfills their needs
  • Explain how your products or services are relevant and appeal to the customer’s strongest decision-making drivers

Remember to use real, simple language when crafting your value proposition. It needs to be something that can be easily read or heard and understood. Avoid jargon, hype or industry-speak. If your prospect can describe your value as an organization in the same or similar terms, you hit the nail on the head with your value proposition.

Value propositions are especially important in business to business (B2B) situations when finals presentations are involved and decisions are made by a committee. Your value proposition needs to be delivered in an effective and memorable manner. In a B2B situation, a number of firms may be presenting back to back on the same day. During your finals presentation, every team member needs to clearly state your value proposition and what makes your offering more compelling than the firm presenting before or after you. You aren’t selling against your competitors, you are making the case for why your offering is the best fit for that prospective client’s needs. A value proposition does not change from deal to deal. You are who you are, but you may stress one or two aspects depending on the prospect’s needs.

Working with an outside firm who can take an objective and fresh look at your organization can be an effective way to create your value proposition. When we work with companies on their value proposition, we start with a basic messaging exercise. First, we listen to the client describe themselves, ideally we also listen to what their clients have to say, and then we focus on crafting the three most compelling messages about their firm, offering or  service. We then create a short, concise message with key words that drive the value proposition. We recommend “test driving” your value proposition if possible and then flowing it through all your materials, pitchbooks, RFPs, website and presentations.

While sales consists of building relationships and understanding a prospect’s needs (see related blog post World’s Most Noble Profession), a clear and concise value proposition helps you effectively articulate how your offering can meet a prospect’s needs, allows you to stand out from the pack and gives the prospect a reason, they can articulate, as to why they chose you.