How to Use Your Value Proposition for Customer-Centric Innovation

If you’re reading this blog, you may be one of the people rethinking how to do business in today’s ever more complex world. Once upon a time, when businesses were smaller, locally based, and simpler in their operations, it was so much easier to bring the customer into the heart of your organisation – mainly because you were physically interacting with them on a daily basis.

True: the speed of the market, ever increasing customer expectations and a non-stop progression of technology means it can be hard to keep up – but it’s not impossible. The key is to really understand your value proposition and that means a deep understanding of your value from your customers’ point of view.

A value proposition is the sum of the offerings and experiences delivered to your customers during all their interactions with your organisation. The challenge, here, is for businesses to let go of what they perceive is the value that they deliver, and to find out what that value is according to the customer’s met and unmet needs. The key to this is to be able to empathise with the pain, gap or irritation that your products or solutions can fix.

Our new book, Selling Your Value Proposition: How to transform your business into a selling organization, is packed with case studies that we’ve gathered over the years to give our readers real-life examples of where value propositions can help transform businesses.

Let’s take one, now, to demonstrate the challenge of perceived value:

A cardboard box manufacturer serves fast-moving goods companies; these customers buy the cardboard boxes to package the goods they sell to retailers. Previously, the box manufacturer’s sales conversations focused on the box quality and speed of delivery, but this didn’t seem to be enough to the goods companies, which were buying from lower-cost rivals at an increasing rate. Taking a customer centric approach, the manufacturer took the time to really understand its customers. It found out that many of the companies keep surplus boxes in warehouses through fear of not being able to keep up with retailers’ demands. These surplus boxes take up costly warehouse space and many are never used due to damage or changes in packaging requirements. Once the manufacturer was able to empathise with this, they were able to create a sales story that focused on the advantage of their ‘just-in-time’ service, eradicating the customer’s need for surplus boxes and saving them the cost of floor wastage. This insight established the manufacturer as a trusted advisor, moving its relationship with its customers beyond procurement, and encouraging them to buy based on business value rather than the lowest price.

How up to date are we with our customers’ wants and needs? How well do we understand their lives and what dilemma our services or products could solve?

Henry Ford, creator of the world’s first car, is known for once saying “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’”. People couldn’t ask for something that hadn’t been invented yet, but what they were able to do was state a need: to move faster. If you start with the problem, and are empathetic to the impact of this, you are given the freedom to innovate and can then create the required offering and sell directly to the need.

Selling Your Value Proposition focuses on how organisations can best serve customers of today and tomorrow by being empathetic to their needs, open to innovation and selling authentically, ethically and successfully.

Selling Your Value Proposition is published by Kogan Page and available now from all major book retailers. Home Business Mag readers save 20% with discount code BMKSVP20 at Kogan Page.

You can also keep up to date with our thought leadership by following @SYValueProp and @Futurecurve on Twitter.

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Cindy Barnes
Cindy Barnes is a co-author of Selling Your Value Proposition, and the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Futurecurve. Her passion for genuine customer-centricity is transforming the operations and perspective of major organisations around the world.  Prior to Futurecurve, she led service development, sales, and marketing, co-created new business units and was a client-side consultant with Capgemini. She is clinically qualified in Transactional Analysis and holds an MBA. More on Futurecurve: Organisations need help to make the shift from being product led to becoming truly customer centric. The essential part of this journey is to understand what customers value and why. That's what we do. As social science researchers, business consultants and psychologists, we work with you to interpret people's behaviour and solve complex business problems.

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