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I was having dinner the other night with a friend and the discussion turned to business. He told me about a product he was distributing and I got the subtle hint that he was trying to pique my interest as a potential customer. As he was talking, it occurred it me that he was selling a product, not a solution.

It's an experience you've probably had before too more times than you can remember: someone is trying to sell you something and all they talk about is the product. What it does, how it works, how it was conceived, who is using it, etc. What is left out: what it's doing for you.

Selling a product (or service) instead of a solution is a common cause of lost sales. Even with the best product in the world, a failure to effectively relate the product to the potential customer's needs and desires is a recipe for rejection.

To avoid this fate, here are five simple, straightforward product value propositions that you should always keep in mind when selling because they help relate your product to the customer:

It'll save you time.
Time is perhaps the most valuable asset in business and once it's gone, you can't get it back. If you have a product that can help customers spend less time on low-value tasks, be sure to demonstrate how.

It'll reduce labor.
Although there's a global recession and everybody talks about the need for more jobs, the reality is that business owners and manager are always looking to get the most bang for their buck from their workforce. Sometimes this means reducing the size of a workforce; other times this means finding solutions that enable employees to do less of the menial stuff and more of the high-impact stuff. In either case, you have a product that can reduce labor costs in one way or another, your job could be on the line if you don't sell it.

It'll boost efficiency.
The efficiency of businesses today is truly mind-boggling when you think about where many businesses were 50 years ago. From agriculture to finance, companies today do far more, often with far less. A lot of that is thanks to innovative products that help streamline processes, overcome bottlenecks, and support new and improved business models. As companies look to squeeze the most possible out of all of their resources, efficiency is a powerful value proposition.

It'll get you where you need to go, faster.
Time to market is more important today than ever before. Competition in the global marketplace is immense and oftentimes the company that can get the job done fastest is the company that wins the day. Most companies are eager to explore products that will help them get to market faster, deliver for their customers more quickly and stay one step ahead of the competition.

It'll make you more money. Of course, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line and everything above translates in some fashion to it. At the end of the day, if you don't sell ROI, you're not selling. Whether you're saving your customers time, reducing their labor costs, boosting efficiency or making them faster, the most powerful value proposition sounds a lot like "I can save you $x" or "I can boost your annual revenue by $y".

Patricio Robles

Published 7 August, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (2)

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Social Steve

Good simple advice.  I would just add on thing to the five areas highlight.  (Most likely implied, but was not explicit.)  If you can put a quantitative number to this and be able to prove, all the more compelling.

Social Steve

over 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

A good starting list. But you miss out a classic:

it will make you more attractive (thinner, sexier, smarter).

over 7 years ago

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