The Challenger: What’s your value proposition?

One of the critical approaches needed to be a Challenger salesperson is to develop a value proposition for your prospect or customer, which is not always easy to do.  So today I’m going to give you the workshop approach that I have been using for many years, and you can judge for yourself whether it will work for you and your sales teams.

First let’s just agree that “value proposition” is a pretty horrible phrase and sounds like “consultant-speak.”  In plain English it’s simply that part of your offering or approach that most appeals to your customer.  That’s why mass market products like toothpaste have every conceivable value proposition on their labels, such as “whitener”, “removes tartar” and “fresh breath” so that one of these will appeal to any given market segment.

But in B to B selling you have to be far more targeted and precise, so the process in getting there takes a bit of workshop time.  Here’s how I do it.  After a discussion of the meaning of value propositions, I ask learners to make three columns on a piece of paper and list as many value propositions as they can for (column one) their company, (column two) their line of business or product, and (column three) themselves, or what they uniquely bring to the table.

In debriefing this exercise the result is always the same.  The learners come up with generic ideas that could describe just about any company, including of course their own competitors:

“We offer the same services as the big banks, but with local, hometown delivery.”

“We live here in the community.”

“Decision-making is local.”

And here is my favorite:  “We have money to lend!”

So round two in this exercise is to answer the “So what?” question and encourage the learners to dig a bit deeper, discarding all those value propositions that anyone could offer and that are of little perceived value.  After a bit of discussion and argument, the learners realize that one solid value proposition, usually from column three, is much more powerful than a long presentation about all the miraculous things their company does.

Then we get the value proposition narrowed down to:

“I’ve been analyzing OEM companies such as yours for the last 14 years, and I have some insights I’d like to share with you regarding your performance to plan.”

“The research I did on your company and how you compare to peer groups in your industry is our most important topic today as it will help you discover and act on at least two opportunities.”

“We have documented success in your industry and today I’d like to share two stories with you on that subject, as I’m sure there are some takeaways for you.”

If you want to teach your sales team to be Challengers, then you have to be willing to challenge them to get away from lazy thinking and bring some value to their calls.  The premise is easy to understand.  All you have to do is…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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