The full title of this book by Steve Thompson is
The Irresistible Value Proposition: Make the Customer Want What You’re Selling and Want It Now
In my review posted on Amazon.co.uk, I gave the book a 4 Stars rating. This means it is Good to Very Good.
Here is my book review.
This presents the value proposition at the time of selling a particular deal to a particular customer
The author advises on deal-making, about 50% of the time selling and 50% buying. This gives him an excellent perspective of what you need to do to understand and communicate value and why our business is the one to choose.
There are different ways to think through the value proposition problem, or perhaps I should say different levels.
1) from a strategic perspective looking at how the business can be best positioned in the long term. This will look at how trends are developing to understand what it will take to win and it’s the most flexible in terms of the value levers to change. The business has the time to improve or even develop vital value delivering capabilities.
2) from a marketing perspective to find the best fit in the short term. Here value is aimed at specific market/customer segments.
3) from a sales perspective to find the most attractive proposition for a specific deal with a specific customer, right now.
Each is important and they should cascade into each other. The better the job the company has done in developing genuine differentiation in what it offers to customers, the easier it is at the front end when the eyes meet across the negotiating table.
This book looks at value at the sales level. It’s concerned with the specific deal and the specific relationship. This “where the rubber meets the road” perspective is valuable at the strategic and marketing levels too. This is where you have to win, no matter how well you’ve stacked the deck beforehand.
Partway through, the book turns to a fictional case study. Quite a complicated one since it involves selling multi-million dollar software to an about-to-be-acquired company. The software company wants to get a toehold into the bigger group, the established supplier wants to shut the door on any rivals. On top of this, there are the conflicting personal ambitions of two of the senior technology staff, both being considered for the group CIO (chief information officer) position.
The book talks about value being the extra they can get from you rather than their next best alternative. I have mixed thoughts about this. I think you need to distinguish between total value from the product or service and incremental value. Your £25,000 car has to give you more than £25k of value. The incremental value over and above your next best alternative has to be above the price premium you’re asked to pay. If there is negligible price difference, then it’s even more attractive.
I also think that often there’s a feeling of “good enough”. Buying is a cost and the potential extra benefits often don’t justify a continual search. The bigger the deal, the more justification there should be in taking longer and more care. In economics, this process of accepting “good enough” is called satisficing.
In chapter 4, the book explains the three attributes of an irresistible value proposition :
1 – It is linked the the priorities of the main decision maker.
2 – It highlights the incremental value over the next best choice.
3 – It is defined in the customer’s measures of success.
The book is pragmatic and it’s focused on helping you to win winnable deals.
Although it’s written to help sales staff in big companies, the advice will apply in small businesses that have good sized transactions as well. You’d scale the process down so you can still get the benefit of thinking through concepts.
I like the idea of the story to show the value proposition in action but I found it hard to relate to from my position advising small business owners. This stopped me giving serious consideration to awarding the fifth star.
You can buy the book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
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