There are essentially two ways to write a value proposition for a sales presentation. The first is the top-down value proposition process, and the second is the bottom-up value proposition process. Either way, sales presentations ought to be structured around a clear value proposition statement so that they state how prospects benefit by choosing your solution.

Top-down value proposition process

Use the top down process if working in a very large group, or where consensus is hard to build.

The top down value proposition process for sales presentations is as follows:

  1. Brainstorm a list of possible answers to the question you need to answer for your prospect –  “why us?” or “why change with us?” or “why change?” Don’t make the list too long as it makes the process harder to manage; you can always add things in later if you think of something worth including.
  2. Check that you aren’t missing any ideas for the brainstorm by thinking about your competitors’ weaknesses. Turn these items into positives for your list.
  3. Group items if they overlap significantly. Remove, or sub-divide, any items that ‘swallow’ all others up because they have been drawn too widely (e.g. ‘results’ or ‘quality’).
  4. For each item remaining on the list, give a mark out of ten for how much you think prospects care (or could be persuaded to care) about that item. Give 10 marks for items that are hugely important, and less than 5 for items that aren’t that significant for prospects.
  5. Then, for each item, give a mark out of ten for the relative competitive strength of your solution or type of solution. Compare yourself against your typical competitors, or the common alternative approaches. Award 10 if you are the only one able to do anything in the area; 5 if you are the same as your peers; under 5 if you have a weakness.
  6. Then, multiply the two marks together to get a score out of 100 for each possible value proposition item. The highest 3-5 are great candidates to be included in your value proposition.
  7. Then, filter the list. Take out any items that are simply ‘table stakes’ items – things that suppliers need to have, but that aren’t used as discriminators once it’s clear that they have them (e.g. financial strength).
  8. Remove items that aren’t provable (e.g. ‘great people’)
  9. Remove items that are self-defeating (e.g. ‘nice’ – sometimes, if you have to say it, people won’t believe it.)
  10. Then, check what’s left. Take the top 3-5 items, and that’s your value proposition.

Bottom-up value proposition process

The bottom-up value proposition process is as follows – use it with smaller groups, or where a more iterative approach is required:

  1. Write each argument for choosing your solution or type of solution onto a Post-It note. Here, we’re looking for features that others don’t have, statistics, reviews, awards – the sort of items that might warrant a slide in a sales presentation.
  2. Add items that are the converse of competitor’s weaknesses.
  3. Group the Post-It notes together thematically. Play around until you find groups that seem to work logically. These clusters of arguments form the basis for your value proposition. Not every Post-It note has to fit in a cluster; material can be placed into the introduction, or next steps, or excluded altogether.
  4. Name each cluster – the name becomes part of  your value proposition, so make sure that they are persuasive.
  5. Then take out anything that is just ‘table stakes’, or not provable, or self-defeating.

Using a value proposition in a sales presentation

Once you have found a value proposition, you need to sort the information into the right order. Sometimes, there’s a logical flow to the story – or one section contains material that explains how the solution works, so ought to be placed first. Some value proposition statements – things such as ‘future proof’ or ‘low risk’ often naturally fit at the end of the story, and should go last. It’s worth remembering that the first and last items in any list are remembered better than the others – so place strongest arguments there.

Then use these items to structure your sales presentation into sections – and present your material using the value proposition in order to make sure that your content is directly relevant to prospects and couched in terms of the benefits they will receive.

  • Show the value proposition
  • Prove how you can deliver the first part
  • Prove how you can deliver the second part
  • Prove how you can deliver the third (etc) part
  • Close by recapping the value proposition and asking for commitment
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Joby Blume

Director

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