14 Jun 2022
by Mike Ward

Will your value proposition survive a recession?

Guest blog by Mike Ward, value propositions diviner, on the importance of having a simple, clear and memorable value proposition.

I had a rather depressing ‘phone conversation with my colleague Neville Sankey a few months back.  He’s a techUK member of long standing, sits on the SME committee and publishes guides on how organisations best leverage the benefits of new technology.  So he knows his stuff.  

Neville was at a tech fair and was recounting his experience of visiting exhibitors’ stands.  “I just asked two simple questions” he said: “What is it that you do?  And why should I buy from you?”  Because it often wasn’t clear from the signage & material on the stand.  “Whilst one or two could answer the first question in language I could understand, the vast majority couldn’t say how their product might benefit me.  Hardly surprising, given that not one asked me what business issues I was facing – so how could they know what might be relevant?”

Those exhibitors had undoubtedly paid significant sums for a stand and staffed them with reasonably senior people.  So each sales lead might have cost several thousand pounds.  Yet he didn’t have any confidence that prospects would have left with a memorable reason to buy, nor would the exhibitors have gathered sufficient information to be able to make their follow-up relevant and compelling.

Does this sound familiar to you?  Have you had the same experience as Neville?  Or if you’ve been the vendor, have you ever wondered why those business cards you gathered didn’t turn into sales?

Might it be that you – along with much of the tech sector – struggle to articulate a value proposition that’s relevant to the customer’s needs, provides them with a compelling reason to buy, and is sufficiently memorable so they can remember it when they make their purchase decision?

And of course, an impending recession will exacerbate your need for simplicity, clarity and memorability.  Because prospects under budgetary pressure will have to justify their recommendations to increasingly parsimonious line managers who are themselves under pressure to deliver: unless they can demonstrate that every £x spent on your solution guarantees a return of £4x by the end of the financial year, they won’t be allowed to buy.
So next time a prospect asks “What is it that you do?  And why should I buy from you?”, you’d better work out what issues they’re facing.  Because “We provide AI solutions with lots of funky features: let me give you a demo” isn’t going to hold a candle to “You need to reduce your back office costs.  Let me show you how you can reduce them by 60% within six months at a tenth of what you’ll save”.

This blog is based on a recent techUK SME Growth Series session focused on Value Propositions.  The series continues with An Introduction to Business Selling on 29 June. 

For more information on value propositions, you can watch the previous session here (members only) or contact Mike Ward.

For future sessions in the techUK SME Growth Series, visit the SME Connect events page or alternatively contact our Head of SME Engagement, Ed Bevan by email at: [email protected]



Mike Ward

Mike Ward

Value propositions diviner

Mike’s been writing value propositions for 45 years.  25 in blue-chip advertising agencies and the last 20 mainly on large complex bids where he’s helped clients win contracts worth over £2bn.  He’s sold everything from varicose vein clinics to VR-enhanced military software and says “There’s an infinite number of features, but only a finite set of customer benefits.  The trick is to work out which are the most relevant and compelling to your customer”.