Jill Konrath on Value Propositions, Part II: The Three Components

Editor’s Note: Last week, in Part I of this 3-part series, Jill defined the value proposition — now she breaks down the value proposition into its component parts. Next week, it all comes together with the final installment.


The three components of a well-written value proposition are:

1. Business Drivers

Business drivers are important objectives that your prospects use to measure their success — measures they want to either increase or decrease. Business drivers will get their attention.

Examples of business drivers:

  • collections
  • compliance
  • cost of goods sold
  • costs
  • customer retention
  • customer satisfaction
  • downtime/uptime
  • employee turnover
  • inventory turns
  • labor costs
  • lead conversion rate
  • lifetime customer value
  • market share
  • new clients
  • operating costs
  • productivity
  • profit margins
  • profitability
  • quality
  • returns
  • revenue
  • reviews
  • sales velocity
  • share of customer
  • time to market
  • time to profitability
  • turnaround time
  • turnover
  • waste

A value proposition for business drivers is not about saying “We can reduce your costs.” or “We can increase your sales.” Those are hackneyed phrases that will lose you credibility points — marketing speak that makes you look like just another product-pushing peddler.

The best business drivers are very specific and factual — they make you stand out from the competition. When you are specific, you can show prospects that you can move the needle in areas that they care about. Instead of “sales” you should think about more specific terms:

  • sales velocity
  • sales conversion rate
  • call-to-appointment ratios
  • high-quality leads
  • sales per customer
  • sales of more profitable products


2. Movement words

People only change if a new option is better than the status quo, and if they believe that it will positively affect their key business drivers. Keep in mind that the status quo is “sticky” (an object at rest tends to stay at rest…)  and the benefits of change must be clear and convincing.

“Movement words” are how you convey this:

  • eliminate
  • speed up
  • raise
  • minimize
  • decrease
  • cut
  • shrink
  • increase
  • maximize
  • improve
  • save
  • accelerate
  • reduce
  • enhance
  • squeeze
  • strengthen
  • improve
  • grow
  • balance
  • free up
  • revitalize

3. Metrics — Leveraging Industry Statistics

Metrics are measurable ways to show value — statistics on things like money, time, and percentages. The best metrics are specific. To prospects, 19.7% is more believable than 20%.Vagueness in a value proposition is not your friend.

For many sellers, this strategy is the perfect fix for their lack of metrics. Leverage the research that someone else has already done.

I frequently tell prospects: “Research shows that over 75% of executives at companies whose new products failed to achieve their objectives blamed poor value propositions as the root cause.”

How about this one if your company helps others be more creative: “A recent survey of 669 executives from global companies found that fewer than 25% of them felt that their innovative performance was where it needed to be for success in hypercompetitive markets.”

Keep your eyes open for relevant metrics. Rest assured, you will have a 99.97% chance of finding statistics that support your sales efforts.

Uncover and Extend Existing Business Statistics

So many companies today are already involved in tracking things within their organization. If their company is involved in Six Sigma or other quality-type initiatives, measurement is an integral part of their operations.

Your job is to uncover the existing metrics. That means you need to understand and track measurable results. Since this tracking is ongoing, you will be able to see the impact of your product or service on their business.

Engage New Customers in Measurement

That’s right! You can ask your customers to create a benchmark. If you’re confident that your product or service will deliver positive business results, get them to measure the success they’re getting.

Some customers really like to do this. They want to see if their investment in your offering truly did make a difference. And if it did, believe me, they will be telling everyone in the company about their great decision making!

You want people talking about you like this. So give them an opportunity and ask them to participate in a benchmark. It may take guts on your part (and an additional effort to educate them on using your product/service to the fullest) since you’ll really have to prove your value. But it will be worth it!

Once you get those positive, business-impacting metrics your value proposition will be so much stronger. In fact, it will be just what you need to get your foot in the door of a whole slew of new prospects.

Finally, if you’re still having problems getting metrics after all these suggestions, then I have one last piece of advice for you: Speak the language of business.

Forget that your product or service even exists. Just talk about the impact it has on clients. Tell a “before and after story” painting a picture of the difficulties customers experienced before using your product/service and what they achieved as a result.

Examples of Metrics-Driven Statements

“When we launched the website, our client saw a 64.5% increase in traffic and a revenue jump of 134% after 3 months.”

“Social media via customer support led to a 34.9% reduction in service tickets.”

“When we encouraged our clients to offer customer support on Twitter and Facebook, the average revenue boost was 38% — with some results as high as 74%.”


For  more opportunities to differentiate, some words to consider :

  • free
  • cancel any time
  • guarantees
  • discounts
  • customizing

Next week: Writing your value proposition, including examples and helpful worksheets!

Jill Konrath is a leading sales strategist, best-selling author, popular speaker, and renowned thought leader in B2B sales. Her sales expertise (based on a tremendously successful sales career) has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and many more media outlets. Recently, Konrath started Sales SheBang, a web resource and conference for women in sales.