How to sell just about anything

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October 01, 2013
How to sell just about anything.

thumbnailYou might create spectacular websites, but your efforts can be wasted if your client's sales pitch doesn't feature a unique value proposition.

What's that? It's a promise that clearly demonstrates why prospects should buy your client's products or services. It helps them sell more, which benefits their business, and yours.

If the value proposition is missing or weak, you both lose, and the competition wins. Here's how you can showcase some marketing consulting savviness and help your clients identify and express compelling value propositions.

"Why should I do business with you?"

A value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered. The most persuasive value proposition is one that is clear and concise, promises quantifiable outcomes and unmistakably singles out the value your client is offering over the competition. This makes it a unique value proposition, also known as UVP.

An effective website must answer this direct question: "Why should I do business with you?"

A weak value proposition doesn't clearly answer this question, often resulting in:

  • too much information;
  • not describing things from the buyer's perspective;
  • failure to identify what's different about your client.

Writing website content using a cookie cutter template or a bunch of buzzwords usually leads to a feeble value proposition that sounds like everyone else's and doesn't actually communicate real value. Our content writers call these "me too" value propositions.

To build a convincing case to do business with your clients, ensure your clients' value propositions are:

  • unique to them;
  • important to the prospects;
  • defensible.

Discovering unique value

When identifying a unique value proposition you're not formulating value, you're discovering value that already exists, explains international business advisor Mark Wardell. "It's already there somewhere," he says, "but you need to find it and clearly define it."

Here's a simple but effective chart you can use to help clients identify their differentiating factors and separate them from the competition.


The red area that overlaps represents areas that the prospect values, however, the features and benefits offered are the same. So there's no competitive advantage.

On the other hand, the green area captures unique benefits the prospect will reap working with your client. This represents real, unique value, demonstrating why prospects should do business with your clients instead of the competition.

Sources of insight

Studying prospects to gain insight into their environment and thought process, and understanding what they want, need and value can be achieved through different means.

Market research firms

Countless market research agencies conduct in-depth studies and can churn out all sorts of data and reports. Regrettably, the price tags are often hefty and prohibitive for small businesses.

Ideal customers

You can gather customer insights by spending time on social media sites and forums, interviewing people and conducting surveys.

Here are some questions to help extract useful information from customers:

  • Why did you hire [company]/buy from [company] in the first place?
  • What's one thing [company] does that you love the most?
  • What's one thing [company] does that others don't?
  • If you were to recommend [company] what would you say?

Business owners

In most cases, due to financial and time constraints, web designers, developers and copywriters often have to rely solely on business owners, who typically focus on how great their products or services are — the features rather than benefits. And even if your clients are wise enough to point out benefits, you need to determine the benefits of the benefits.

If you ask your clients why prospects should choose them over the competition, and they go into auto pilot and start listing their product or service features, follow up with this question: "So what does it mean to your customer?" The "So what?" query will eventually lead you to benefits and ultimately value.

A discussion might go like this: What makes you different? We have the most comprehensive national distribution system. So what? Well, customers get products directly from our nearest warehouse. So what? The customer always receives their product within two business days. So what? Our competitors typically deliver in four or five days. So what? Customers can rely our quick deliveries. So what? They can relax once they place the order, knowing it's on its way.

Now we're getting somewhere! The quick delivery, reliability and 'peace of mind' factors could conceivably play a role in the value proposition. If it's determined prompt delivery and dependability are important to the prospect you have a winner, provided your client can back it up.

Create differentiation and desire

Creating differentiation and desire will help boost your engagement and conversion rates, which are heavily influenced by this cost vs. benefits equation:

Perceived Benefits – Perceived Costs = Motivation

You can use this scale to rate and prioritize the 'values' that are being considered.

How much do prospects want or need it?

  1. They don't really care.
  2. They're interested.
  3. They feel they MUST have it.

If any value scores a '3', this paves the way to differentiation and desire — a powerful combo to establish an effective value proposition. That will help your client grab the prospect's attention, challenge his current assumptions, and convince him to consider making a change. Only when the prospect cares enough to do something different, can you lead him on a path to choosing your client.

Value propositions that work

Here are some strong value propositions, which clearly tell prospects why they're the best choice:

Winners: The latest brand names for up to 60% off
Square: Start accepting credit cards today
Mint: Free online money management
Verizon Wireless: Biggest 4G LTE Coverage
Southwest Airlines: No bag fee
Netflix: Stream movies instantly
Discover Card: Get 5% cash back

What's in it for me?

The next time your clients come to you with undefined value propositions, help put them in their prospects' shoes and focus on the 'what's in it for me?' factor.

Building sites around clear, compelling value propositions will allow you to brand and market clients more effectively, boost their conversions and sales, and score you an abundance of good business karma.

Do you work with clients to find UVPs? What tactics do you use to determine them? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, bright idea image via Shutterstock.

WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there's something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

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