Question 1: Do we bring our clients added value? No, is the loud answer. Neither we nor our products bring added value; it is the customers themselves that create added value. In B2B, products help to achieve more sales, to increase the price or reduce operating costs. In B2C, for example, products lead to a better appearance, a faster healing process or a comprehensive sense of security. The idea that we as a company create the value is not customer-focused.
So, question 2: do we promise our customers added value? The difference to Question 1 is subtle but important. Dear start-up team: read your marketing materials and your sales presentations, listen to conversations with customers! Do you promise more value than the current best solution on the market? In B2B, are you the best in monetary terms? Because if you do not promise more value, why should the customer expect more value?
That brings us to question 3: what is value? Value is a subjective variable. According to the dictionary, it is “an intrinsic quality of a thing that makes it desirable”. The customer attaches a value to the solution, not to the seller or the selling company. The customer decides whether they receive a value; i.e., if the solution helps to solve the problem.
So, question 4: do you know your customers’ problems? What problems do the buyers have? The production manager? The consumer or the patient? And can you estimate how much the problem costs? The money always comes first, particularly in B2B situations, but not exclusively. It’s also about the people behind it because it’s not companies that buy but people. This is where psychology – particularly in B2C – plays a big role.
From this follows question 5: can you promise to eliminate your customers’ problems? Can you address not only the obvious problem but also the hidden, unspoken problems of all relevant decision-makers in the buying process? Do you have the answers and solutions that reassure customers and give them the confidence to take a step nearer the solution?
And question 6: can you promise more than the solution currently available on the market delivers? After all, why should a customer buy a product from a young start-up that has not yet been proven in the market, if they do not receive more than they already have?
If a start-up can answer questions 2-6 with a resounding yes, the first hurdle is over. But that is only half the battle won – because, as we learn as a child, promises must be kept.
Question 7: can you demonstrate that your products also keep their promise?Or will the customer immediately see through the sales pitch? Is there clear evidence, facts and, above all, references that show that the promise is being fulfilled? Many value propositions fail because of a lack of credibility.
And, finally, the big question: is the cost of your solution less than the cost incurred from the customer’s problem? If so, then the value of your solution to the customer is positive and greater than the value of the current alternative, and the customer would actually be ill-advised not to buy it. The value proposition is irresistible – that’s clear.