“Gain must exceed pain”. That idea is very powerful in understanding the value in your company, how you can enhance it, and how you can communicate it. Let me explain why.
You’re familiar with the situation. You’re trying to explain what’s good about your company. Time is tight: your audience is impatient. They want to know why anyone should buy what you’re offering. You’re uncomfortable. You need a concise, clear, credible explanation that will convince them. You need a ‘value proposition’. You badly need a really good value proposition.
On this site, you’ll find lots of help in that direction. If you’re trying to sell a complicated thing in a really B2B competitive market, then that’s where I’ve mostly been, so it will make sense to you. But what I’ve got to say has also been relevant to many people in a B2C setting. If that’s where you are, please keep reading.
So, what is a value proposition, really?
What Other People Say
You’ll find many definitions of ‘value proposition’ on the web. Here are a few:
- A business or marketing statement that summarises why a consumer should buy a product or service. This statement should convince a potential consumer that one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offerings. [Source: Investopedia]
- The benefits that a product or service provides to customers, especially by being different to or better than a competitor’s products or services. Customers face a choice when browsing a set of products and/ or services at various prices. The value proposition is the additional benefits the customer receives from a product/ service not offered by other competitors. The value proposition is a combination of the product and/or service and the price charged. [Source: Financial Times]
- A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered and a belief from the customer that value will be experienced. A value proposition can apply to an entire organization, or parts thereof, or customer accounts, or products or services. [Source: Wikipedia]
The Core Idea
Lots of good ideas, but ooh, lots and lots of words, in those definitions.
The core idea, in amongst all of those words, is that if you’re going to persuade someone to become a customer, you’ll need to convince them that their gain will be greater than their pain.
So, before you’re next squirming with discomfort in front of someone who could be a very valuable customer, you need to work on just two ideas. What your customer’s pain really is, and what they really stand to gain. You need to dig in, and really articulate those two ideas.
And the customer’s gain must exceed their pain. Why else would they do business with you?
Understanding Your Customer’s Pain
A potential customer will feel their pain in several ways, to different degrees. Let me talk about it in terms of them finding a solution to their problem. That may be finding the right kind of sweater to go with the pants I just bought, or finding the right software for my whole company to use email securely. That’s two different scales of problem/solution, but what’s important is how the customer feels about the choice they’re making. Here are some of the things they’ll be thinking about:
- The cost of enduring the problem they need to solve. What are they putting up with? Can they quantify the negative impact of what they’re living with?
- The cost of acquiring a solution. What will they have to pay for what you’re providing? What will they have to get rid of in order to make way for it?
- The cost of implementing that solution. How long will it take? How will their colleagues be impacted?
- The risk of not finding a solution. What happens to their job, how they’re percieved by their peers, friends, family? What will the cost be of them not dealing with that risk?
UnderstandingYour Customer’s Gain
When you provide a solution to your customer’s problem, the gain they’ll make will have several components, which they’ll evaluate and emotionally react to.
It’s the other side of the pain list:
- The business improvement that they think will happen.
- The better perception that their bosses and colleagues will have of them.
- Their satisfaction in finding the right solution.
- The reduction in risk to their business and their position in it.
These pains and gains involve feelings and perceptions. To properly explain your value proposition, you’ll need to recognise that your explanation has to connect with a fellow human, with their own concerns. That’s not a surprise though, is it? If you’re to be convinced by someone selling to you, you know that they’re going to have to deal with all of the concerns that you have in connection with your buying decision.
They’ll have to show you that you’ll gain more than the pain you’re experiencing. Won’t they?
Let me know in the comments how you’ve managed to articulate for your customers how their gain will exceed their pain.