Value Proposition and a Whole Offer

The opportunity to delve in and really get to the essence of a value proposition can be an excellent opportunity to innovate and differentiate your company and offers through a myriad of ways.  The actionable outcome of exploring your value proposition and how it plays out in your offers is to identify gaps and areas to refine your offer through either strategic partnerships, addition of new elements, different packaging and pricing, and more.  Wikipedia defines the  whole product as “the product augmented by everything that is needed for the customer to have a compelling reason to buy.”  This term was originally coined and used by Regis McKenna, famed marketeer of Silicon Valley  and elaborated upon by Geoffrey Moore in his book Crossing the Chasm.

In this series of posts, we explore elements of the business model that are worthy of evaluation in order to uncover innovative ways to continuously grow your business. This is the third article focused on the value proposition.  In the last article of this series, I shared a story from my own experiences and will continue that story to its conclusion here.

To recap briefly, once upon a time I was responsible for leading a team that designed, implemented and operated a global network spanning 55 countries.  For more on exactly what we were trying to achieve and the context of our desire to rapidly transform our networking capabilities to support the business, check out the last article. That article also shares a story of a sales team confusing features with value and botching things up pretty much.  This is the happy ending, I suppose, as it is a story about how another firm actually stepped up to the plate with a value proposition and related offer that got to the heart of what we needed.

I had shared what I personally, my team, and my company really needed – in our own terms with all of the sales teams.  I had shared that I needed a “reliable support model,” “education and risk mitigation as my team executed upon an aggressive timeline,” a “company with a shared vision and understanding of what digital content can mean to our bottom line.”  The second and ultimately winning sales team responded to this by delivering not just the obvious product elements (switches and routers) but by surrounding it with all of the elements that addressed our stated needs, creating a value proposition that they delivered upon very effectively.

The “whole offer” they proposed and ultimately provided included far more than a product meeting a laundry list of performance superlatives.  They demonstrated that they listened and put together a comprehensive combination of product and service features to bring value to our business inclusive of:

Products:   Quality technology products that both met our immediate needs;

Shared Understanding of Our Vision for Digital Content Delivery:  A non-disclosure view of how the solutions they were recommending today would continue to evolve to meet our needs and our vision of the digital infrastructure for content and entertainment delivery of the future;  Inclusion of myself and my CIO into an advisory organization to continue to influence future product enhancements;

Risk Mitigation:  A tech refresh clause that reduced my risk and gave us options for trading in/up should new technology become available prior to the end of the depreciation cycle of the gear;

Education and Support:   A dedicated engineer willing to run weekly customized “lunch and learns” for my team to assure they were getting what they needed to successfully implement, troubleshoot and run the network;  Technical training coupons for my engineers to use to attend any of a variety of third party offered training on the technology we were implementing;  Excellent technical support during “day 2” after the sale;

It was this package that addressed the needs we had and ultimately gave us a compelling reason to buy from this particular vendor.  It was a stark contrast to the team / vendor described in the prior story.  Bringing service and product together with the capacity to listen to and understand the perspective and needs of the client from the vantage of multiple decision makers and influencers in our business won this vendor the business.  How do you incorporate elements beyond the core product to produce value for your clients?  Are there opportunities for innovation?

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