Progress Beyond 90s Textbook Value Proposition
Jill Konrath’s early work Selling to big companies is both a worthy and contrarian addition to the sales canon.
Which makes it all the more baffling why she latterly flirts worryingly near the ‘internet marketing’ of the pyramid-peddling dirty drain.
I was also distressed to see her endorse a particular “value proposition“. The fact that this phrase is much used by Miller-Heiman devotees (VBR anyone?) tells you all you need to know about the decade (century) to which it is best consigned.
If the occasional post from my blogging youth may not hit the heights set since, then surely this one slips beneath her desired standard.
I’ve popped it up top. In ‘negative’ for a reason.
Hopefully since this (at the start of 2013) there’s been an epiphany.
Whenever you hear these kinds of openers, there’s the natural rush to get out your red pen and rewrite the prose. Resist the urge.
For if you did that here, you’d still be nothing more than editing a sorry phone pitch taken from pre-social media boiler rooms. Just with the odd ‘better’ word and altered sentence order. The inevitable unwritten closing line destined to elicit a “no”.
It’s not just that the whole effort is clunky. “We help”, “without impacting”, “critical issue”, “struggling”, “nor”. With words you’d never normally say in punchy conversation.
Also – if you can – leave to one side here the deafening parade of pitch lines. Too many hooks toil as froth.
And please tell me the reference “a company like yours” does NOT figure in your chat.
In the twenty years since this was the dominating way, it’s pretty clear that today no-one responds to upfront lines like “reduce the cost”, “reduce spending” or “we saved them…[dollar dollar dollar]”. Mind you, even back then, did anyone really care about “spiraling costs” to such a degree that they would see anyone (everyone) at a stroke that promised they could unspiral them?
If someone were to ask you what you do, and you trotted off something like the above, what do you think happens next? In the time it might take you to think on that, sadly they would no longer be around to check.
Strangely, I do believe a so-called value proposition can have its place. But realise an ideal deployment is a rare sighting.
When first reading this, I instantly blurted out “happier staff, way less cash thrown at benefits”. Then chuckled that it was an eight-word mission, as beloved by Harvard. Giggles galore gather if you make like a marketeer, “bigger bang for your benefits buck” (oops).
Conversation can follow should a nerve be tickled. If you take a single point from this, let it be solely sum up the problem you fix. Cut the rest. Then let interest flow.