Value is how, what and why

There are three dimensions to value.

The first one is about the product, the “how” dimension. At this level, you are talking about how your product can help, how different features can be used, the technical specs and everything that does depend 100% on your team. There’s a whole lot of companies that stop here: “our product is amazing, buy it!”; “we have the fastest solution for X, subscribe!”; “our patented Y is disrupting IT, take a free tour!”. And so on.

The second one is about the customer, the “what” dimension. Here, you are talking about what your product delivers that is valuable for the customer. In general, and I am paraphrasing the approach of Inflexion Point here, there are five kind of value a company recognizes: more revenue, less costs, saving time, avoiding risk, and meeting targets (e.g. brand awareness, reputation, customer satisfaction, etc.). A bunch of companies end up here, and so you have “our product is the easiest way to get your back-office processes under control” (time saving); “we are the leader in delivering outstanding customer experiences” (meeting targets); “if you want to forget about fines, you have to try our newest solution for compliance” (avoiding risk).

The third one is about the world, the “why” dimension. Not the world as a whole, the world that delimits the prospect, some would call it “market” (I believe it is a bit reductive). Of course, every company is happy with more revenue, less costs, saved time, avoided risks, and met targets. And yet this is about understanding why these things are important to the customer you are targeting, and which one is more important than the others. Perhaps your target customer has just experienced an increase in direct competition from new entrants: “Our product is an easy to use tool that gets you up to speed, allowing you to compete on a level field with X and Y”. Perhaps they have been subjected to increasing regulatory scrutiny: “We have worked with companies like yours, and they have struggled to keep up with ever changing rules. Here is what we have to offer..”. Perhaps their customers have been empowered by technology: “With our product, you can forget about manual tasks and wasted time, so that your employees can dedicate all the needed attention to your customers and their demands.”

Very few companies manage to get to the third dimension. It takes work and appreciation of what your customers are struggling with and why. Sometimes, that means actually getting to a level of understanding that can open new venues for your prospects. Things they had not thought about before meeting you and your product, new solutions to an old problem never tackled because thought secondary.

How do you get to the “why” dimension? Clearly, start with your customers.

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