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4 Questions Sellers Must Ask to Build a Value Proposition

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Written by John Doerr
Co-Founder, RAIN Group

Imagine it's the end of a long, important sales process. Your buyer has given you the verbal 'yes' to buy, but he has to deliver a summary of the value proposition case—why he's made the decision to move forward with you—to his peers and the board of directors. And no, you can't attend the meeting and speak alongside him. He must make the argument himself, and it has to be good.

Every argument like this ever made has 3 essential components that make up the value proposition. The buyer must be able to make a persuasive and compelling case for:

  1. Why they want and need what you're selling...what resonates with them.

  2. Why you stand out as the best choice from the other available options...what differentiates you.

  3. Why they believe that you will deliver on your promises...what substantiates their belief in you.

If you want buyers to be armed with the best material to make this case, first you must be able to make it to yourself.

The most successful sellers make the value case to themselves as powerfully as possible—before getting buyers to believe in it just as strongly. Making the value proposition case is straightforward if you ask the following questions.

4 Essential Value Prop Questions

  1. Why act?
  2. Why now?
  3. Why us?
  4. Why trust?

Why act
and why now cover resonate. Here you make the case for why it's important and urgent to move forward.

Why us covers differentiate. Here you make the case for why you are the best choice among available options.

Why trust covers substantiate. It's where you make the case for why the buyer should believe in you, your offering, your company, and your ability to achieve the desired and promised results.

In this video, I share more about these 4 questions and why it's important to customize your value proposition for each buyer.




What Happens If You Don't Answer One?

If you answer these 4 questions, covering each of the essential components, you win sales at premium fees and inspire buyer loyalty. Here's what happens, however, if one of the components is missing:


Take any one of these away and it makes it much more difficult to sell.

  • If you don't resonate, people won’t believe that your solution is important so they are motivated to buy, and urgent so they are motivated to act quickly.

  • If you don't differentiate, there's no clear case you are the best choice. Thus buyers will pressure you on price or turn to a competitor.

  • If you don't substantiate with solid proof of your abilities, buyers won't believe you'll follow through on your promises or achieve intended results. They won't risk working with you.

Your actual value proposition—the collection of reasons people buy from you—though it may share some themes, will be different from one buyer to the next. You’ll discover what the value case should be for each buyer through your conversations as you learn what they want and need, and who the competition is.

Asking yourself Why Act, Why Now, Why Us, and Why Trust will help you map it all out.

When you do, the buyer's perception of your value will be as strong as possible when it counts: when it's time to buy. 

Download: The 11 Principles of Influence in Sales White Paper


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Topics: Value Proposition