It’s nice to be special. And in business, it’s crucial. What makes you special is called your “value proposition,” and it’s what distinguishes you from your competitors. Your value prop is what current customers love about you and what prospects expect to get, so it’s important to communicate it clearly.
Why do you need to know your value prop?
You get into an elevator and realize you’re sharing it with that prospect you’ve been desperate to land. You’ve got 90 seconds to tell her your story and convince her to work with you: do you know what to say? Elevator speech without value prop: “Nice weather we’re having, huh?”
The four magic questions

Your unique value proposition lies at the intersection of some very important questions. We recommend asking these questions to some of your customers as well as some internal teams. But don’t go easy on yourself. Talk to clients who love you, clients who like you, and clients who aren’t your biggest fans. Taking the “average” of their responses will help you understand how your customers think about you – and where you have room to improve.
  1. What do you/our customers love about our company?
  2. What problems – that we solve – make it possible for you/our customers to sleep at night?
  3. What would you/customers change about our company?
  4. What are our competitors doing that you/our customers wish we did?

Send a member of your marketing team (not your CEO, who may not be told those painful truths) to ask customers and employees. Employee teams should include customer support, sales, marketing, finance, and executive-level. It’s useful to talk to both groups not only to get internal and external opinions but also to get a sense of how well your employees understand your customers.
Make sure you do all the following steps to get the full value from the exercise:
  • Really listen to the answers. Notice the questions are really open-ended to invite elaboration, so give everyone time to think the questions through and answer them fully. The most complete answers will give you the most complete picture of how you’re winning with customers … and how you’re missing the mark.
  • Ask for examples. If a client says they love your customer service, ask for specifics. Maybe there’s one rep in your call center who is above-and-beyond fantastic and could train the rest of the team.
  • Write down responses. You’ll want to share and discuss what you hear, so take down or even record (with permission) the conversation so you’ll be able to communicate the answers accurately.
  • Compare and contrast your employees’ answers to your customers’. Both are important, but where they conflict, you should give more weight to your customers’ responses. Big discrepancies between customers’ and employees’ responses may be an indicator that employees don’t “get” your organization’s value prop, and it’s a good thing you’re doing this exercise.
The answers to all four questions can help you determine not only what your value prop is but also what it should be. For now, we’ll concentrate on deciding what it is. To do that, you’ll need to look carefully at the answers to questions #1 and #2. (Hint: hold on to the answers to questions #3 and #4 – we’ll come back to those later.)
Once you’ve collected the answers, your team should vote for what they think are the most important responses. Give each team member five votes to distribute any way they see fit among the responses to Question 1. Count up the votes and rank the responses. Do the same for Question 2.
The top two vote-getters are probably pretty close to what your customers value most from you, so use them! Work them into your marketing, teach them to your employees, state them on your website and Pinpoint profile, and incorporate them in that elevator speech.
For example:
Question #1 response
What do you love about our company? You’re local and respond quickly.
What do we do that lets you sleep at night? We trust that you’re keeping our data secure.
Now you’ve got an elevator speech with value prop: “We’re a local company with staff on the ground to resolve any issue you may have quickly. Our good relationship with Microsoft and deep expertise with Microsoft Azure means we can keep your data safe and available without negatively impacting your business. And you get to your kids’ soccer game on time!”
The unique value your organization offers helps form the basis of the story you’re telling prospects about your company – why should they choose you above the rest?