Show... Then Tell (with Win Themes)

By Rachel Cavallo

The value proposition. It’s at the core of everything we sell, right? Value propositions come in many varieties, but essentially they are the statements that say, “You need what we have to offer, and we are uniquely positioned to sell it to you.” We’ve seen the statistics that tell us how important clear value propositions are to buyers… But is the value proposition statement alone enough?

Show Versus Tell

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a writing workshop for parents of young writers. During this workshop, an author spoke about the importance of “showing” your audience what a character is thinking or feeling versus “telling” them outright. Apparently, many kids (and probably adults, too) tend to write things like “I was very scared” versus something more descriptive to engage the reader like…  “My knees were shaking, and I could barely breathe.” It got me thinking about how it is much more powerful to feel and experience a value proposition than to just read it or hear it in a presentation. 

Crafting Sales Messages

When we work with our clients on crafting sales messages for their customers, we start by encouraging clients to take their messaging beyond the singular value proposition statement. Generally, the value proposition is a statement that is very “we” focused – why our product is the best and why the customer should select us… 

To go beyond this level of thinking, we get our clients to think about the motivations of the individual decision makers and each criteria (rational or emotional) that might drive them to make a decision. Next, we ask our clients to think about their competitors and what value propositions they are offering the customer. Once we more closely examine these factors, we revisit the value proposition to ask, “it is enough?”

Generally, we need more. We need messages that will de-emphasize competitive strengths, counter competitive tactics, appeal to the motivations of the people who will be making the decision, and demonstrate that our offering is worth what we are asking for it. We brainstorm a list of these messages, and then we select the top 3-5 that will have the most significant impact. We call these win themes – they are more than just “we” messages – they are broad themes that set us apart across the entirety of our sales landscape. These win themes form the basis for how we execute our sales strategy.

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