I think this is a great question and part of a larger discussion about value. In my experience, teams tend to have an idea of what they think
their customers (or more often in early stage companies their prospective customers) should
value. The result is a sales pitch and product roadmap that reflects these aspirational and potentially ungrounded values. So even if they can articulate the value they are proposing, they may still have a problem.
If, by definition, the value proposition ("value prop" for short going forward) is the clear articulation of WHY what is being offered is important to and relevant for a target, then the value prop is only good if it lines up with two other kinds of value:
- True Value - The direct fix for the way in which a customer's pain manifests itself in their workflow (e.g. Look, this new analytics package finally lets me pull in data from tweets and facebook posts into reports)
- Perceived Value - The way in which the customer values the solution in their own very real life...and usually the thing a person PAYS for (e.g. Holy CRAP! This new reporting is beautiful and gives my micro-managing boss a way to scan a screen and see how hard I'm working)
Teams need to appreciate that to succeed they've got to understand 1) how their prospects/customers live, work and hurt, 2) which specific pain point they're tackling, 3) how their solution is better than what's already on hand and finally 4) be able to convey 1-3 crisply.
That IMO is where good value props come from.
A good example of refining value prop: I was consulting a sports-facility organization that successfully was getting its best customers to make multiple purchases each year over multiple years. Upon closer inspection of the data and through customer interviews we helped them to realize that what their most prolific spenders were paying for was not each individual program (i.e. afterschool, summer camp, outdoor league) but access to the facilities and great coaching staff. We helped them test into an exclusive VIP tier of membership-type all you can eat pricing for their best customers.
Result: actually take pain out of spending AND increase predictability of revs in highly profitable segment. The we realigned the value prop around convenience and perceived value of exclusivity.