Helen Blake is the CEO of Futurecurve, a business and psychology consultancy that enables clients to generate better business by harnessing customer value into compelling value propositions. Helen joins us in The Leadership Corner – our series of posts where we pick the brains of leaders to get insight into how they do what they do. In this interview with Helen, we discuss the importance of building a compelling value proposition and how the right one will give a company and its employees a huge boost of confidence. She also shares what she learnt about leadership from…Star Trek!
Understanding The Value Proposition
What is a value proposition – is it a statement of value or something more?
Helen Blake: There are so many different levels of understanding and interpretation for ‘what is a value proposition’. A value proposition is a work of strategy, answering the question “What difference do you make to your customers?” 99% of so-called value propositions simply talk about the company, its brilliant products, its amazing people. Net result? Zero differentiation.
If pushed for a formal definition, then I’d say that a value proposition is the total sum of your company’s offerings and the experiences your stakeholders have during all their interactions with your company. It’s that combination of the inside-out and outside-in that enables a value proposition to be created.
What’s the process involved in creating a compelling statement?
Creating a value proposition is rather like opening the company’s ‘treasure chest’ – those precious, well- researched, valued items that together create a common repository.
It’s from this that customer and employer value propositions can be created. Messaging statements are not value propositions. You create value by drawing from your company’s value proposition. To create a company level value proposition, that is designed to attract and retain both customers and employees, we take a six-step approach ‘The Value Proposition Builder™’:
- We start by looking at the marketplace; what are the challenges and hot issues facing your customers and employees?
- The second step is interviewing customers and employees to understand their experiences with you
- We then look at the ‘inside-out’. How do your products and services stack up against the stakeholders’ value experiences? There’s no point in generating claims of amazing solutions when the experience is under par.
- By this point, you have all the data to create its value proposition. It is now a refining and prioritisation exercise
- Then you run that value against your competitors’ claims to ensure differentiation.
- Finally, and crucially, it is then about proving/evidencing that refined value to stakeholders. Authentic customer stories, testimonials…anything that will prove your value.
Once a good value statement is crafted what does a company do with it?
At this point, you can articulate your value proposition by completing the following statements with information that is clear and honest:
- The difference we make to our stakeholders is…
- The positive impacts we deliver to stakeholders personally are…
- The consistent experiences our stakeholders really value are…
What’s important for BTB sales in considering excellent value proposition statements, in your view?
Employee value propositions require HR, Sales and Marketing professionals to work together to develop them. Not clever slogans but evidence-based content. In challenging, high-turnover roles, such as Inside Sales, it’s the company’s job to provide the salespeople with content that proves customer value- ROI, customer satisfaction. The boost of confidence a well prepared and thought out value proposition is huge: revenue, satisfaction and retention all increase.
Which company, in your opinion, has a really great value proposition?
I really like the work that Slack has done. How they communicate their value proposition, with a customer and user focus, is great. “Teamwork can be hard, messy, complicated…and still the best way to work. That’s why we made Slack – a place where people get work done, together.”
We at Futurecurve have had a few conversations with Slack (from a customer perspective) and have been impressed by how their sales professionals engage around customer needs and the difference that Slack can make to the customer’s working life (yes!) rather than explain how it works and features/benefits of the system (yawn).
Tell us about your career journey to arrive at the position of CEO of Futurecurve?
My first-ever paid position was actually in professional cricket! However, my background is predominantly with the big consultancies. I worked in Accenture and KPMG where I cut my teeth working with large, complex corporates all around the world. Within Futurecurve, which is a small, niche consultancy, I live the dual life of an SME business owner, so can actively share and empathise with our SME clients, while still getting to utilise my skills and knowledge working with our major multinational clients. I get the best of both worlds…and the challenges too.
Who is a role model for you or an example of a great leader?
I thought about picking someone a bit ‘worthy’ so I could sound very wise and knowledgeable. Instead, I’m going for the truth. One of my not-so-secret passions is ‘Star Trek’. I’ve loved it since I was a child and all my friends, family and team joke about my love of the Captains. So, I am going to pick Captain Jean-Luc Picard (as played by the great Patrick Stewart) as my leadership role model. He’s reflective, decisive, visionary, considerate, takes input from his team, loves to learn and has a vision for his ship and crew. Fabulous.
Understand Your Value Proposition
It is vital to the success of your business that you understand your value proposition, what X Factor do you bring to the table that makes you the go-to choice for your customers? We hope that this article and has helped you clarify and crystalise what is your value proposition and big thanks to Helen Blake for her invaluable insight into value proposition. Make sure you subscribe below so you don’t miss out on future Leadership Corner interviews and if you’d like to get involved as an interviewee, or need help increasing your sales, then get in touch today.
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