Executive Value Props: Do & Don't Guides

Whether you're targeting a CMO or a CFO, these tips will help you craft value props that improve engagement odds throughout the sales cycle—all backed by real executive insights from Databook's latest research.

Opening the door to high-value B2B deals isn't just about having an executive pitch—it's about pitching the right value prop to the right crowd.

Different execs? Different vibes. And it's your job to zero in on your target and nail that messaging fast.

That's why we took insights from Databook's Executive Engagement survey to craft a deep dive into value propositions. What does a CMO look for? What irritates a CFO? We've got it all right here.

First: Some universal C-suite rules

Obviously, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when preparing a value proposition for the C-suite. We looked at around 150 executive statements from Databook's research to find these common themes.

Every executive seeks solutions that cater to their organization's unique challenges. Offerings must be customized to the company's goals, pain points, and desired outcomes. This shows a deep understanding of the business and its needs.

Executives prioritize data-driven insights. Offering clear metrics, real-world examples, or success stories can build credibility. It's not enough to just claim success; tangible proof will always have more impact.

Time is often limited for top executives. Thus, value propositions should be concise, straightforward, and devoid of unnecessary jargon. Avoid overwhelming with too many details; instead, focus on the core message and its relevance.

Trust is paramount. Be honest, transparent, and genuine in all interactions. Avoid over-promising and ensure that you can deliver on any commitments made. If there are potential drawbacks or challenges with your offering, of if there are any unclear or potentially hidden costs, be upfront about them.

Avoid generic pitches. Every company is different, and their challenges and needs vary. Proposing a generic solution might suggest a lack of understanding or research.

Most execs in the survey said value props should answer the question: Why this solution? Remember, then, that simply talking about a product's capabilities isn't enough.  Your value prop should point directly at what sets your solution apart from others, with a willingness to showcase how it works. Offer demonstrations, free trials, or other hands-on experiences so executives can see the value for themselves.

Executives are more interested in how a solution will benefit their business than in a long list of features. Focus on the problems your product or service solves, rather than the features it boasts.

Demonstrating a lack of awareness about current market trends or challenges faced by the specific industry can be detrimental. As you build your value prop, it's crucial to show that you understand the broader context in which the business operates.

The Chief Marketing Officer

CMOs prioritize a blend of competitive insights and customer engagement in their decision-making. As a seller, it's essential to understand these nuances to align your proposition effectively.

CMOs care about how they’re positioned in a competitive market. If your value prop includes evidence of what peers or competitors are achieving with your solution, you can tip the scales in your favor.

As champions of the customer journey, CMOs appreciate value props that indicate improvements in the metrics they’re responsible for improving—such as customer engagement, retention, or experience.

While affordability of a solution is essential, CMOs also weigh the potential impact on brand image and customer perception. Proposing a solution solely because it's cheaper, without considering its alignment with the brand, can be a misstep.

Be sure you understand the full weight of a solution’s costs on an organization. If you’re projecting value, you have to consider where the CMO will get the budget for a purchase and how that might impact other programs or metrics.

"What swayed our decision was compelling data from a vendor that benchmarked our deployment productivity against our peers in the industry."

Why a real CMO said yes to the purchase

The Chief Information Officer

CIOs and CISOs are laser-focused on robust security measures and scalable technology. As a seller, tapping into these core needs while addressing integration and usability can set your proposition apart.

With the increasing importance of data protection and privacy, CIOs and CISOs prioritize solutions that adhere to security standards and regulations.

CIOs and CISOs look for technologies that can scale with ease. Highlighting this kind of adaptability to changing tech environments is crucial to proving value.

Solutions that can't easily integrate into the existing tech stack can create more challenges than they solve. It's essential to show how your offering fits seamlessly with current technologies.

Implementing complex systems can lead to reduced adoption rates among employees, and CIOs are very aware of how this impacts a solution's ROI. Ensure your value prop communicates ease of use without unnecessary complexity.

"What works is proof of concepts and or extended demos. Will it work in my environment or not, and how hard will it be? Just tossing around numbers will draw me in potentially, but won't close the deal."

How a real CIO wants you to pitch

The Chief Revenue Officer

CROs and VPs of Sales are continually hunting for strategies that bolster revenue and refine the sales process. To capture their interest, sellers should directly link solutions to tangible ROI and consider the sales journey holistically.

CROs and Sales VPs are driven by revenue goals, so craft a value prop that ties your solution to revenue growth—whether through improved sales processes, better customer insights, or more effective outreach.

Sales execs from Databook's research were particularly impressed by value props that help streamline the sales process, better qualify leads, or nurture potential clients. Bottom line: If you can deliver value by accelerating the sales cycle, you have a good shot at gaining attention.

Vague promises and feature descriptions won't cut it. Sales leaders need to see a clear path to ROI before investing in a solution.

Offering a solution that only addresses one stage of the sales funnel without considering the broader sales process might not resonate well.

"Starting with the WIFM (what's in it for me) is always where a buyer wants the seller to be. They want to know what you're going to do for them so it's important to get to the chase and explain that."

How a real CRO determines value

The Chief Finance Officer

CFOs are pragmatic decision-makers who value direct solutions and realistic financial projections. Sellers aiming to pique their interest should prioritize clarity, urgency, and concrete differentiation without overstating claims.

CFOs are busy people. Instead of wasting time confirming challenges they already know about, quickly outline how your solution can uniquely overcome obstacles.

For large investments, flexible payment terms or financing options can make a solution more appealing.

CFOs are pressed to make purchase decisions for hundreds of potential solutions a year. If you want yours to make the cut, be sure your value prop reminds them why acting fast matters. Maybe competitors are close on their heels? ROI potential is time-limited? Use data to prioritize your solution’s value.

C-suite financial executives can instantly detect the difference between authentic dollar data and vague promises or projections. No joke: They’ll respect smaller but realistic estimates over hyped-up daydreams any day.

"...Claims that are too outrageous are a no go to me. If you are saying that you will reduce operating expenses by 50% and I have $500M of G&A, trust me: I know I can't get $250M out of the business, regardless of what you say.”

What a real CFO said about inflated value props

The Chief Technology Officer

CTOs expect a deep technical understanding paired with a clear vision of business outcomes. To engage them effectively, sellers should possess robust product knowledge and emphasize solutions that promise real value without overextension.

You can’t tell a CTO how your solution delivers value if you don’t understand what it does or how it connects to their problems. And tech execs know if you’re winging it—so don’t even try.

No CTO wants to invest in technology that will upend their current systems. Be sure you’re positioning a solution that will integrate both quickly and smoothly, ensuring faster time to value with few transition headaches.

All the flexibility, customization ease, and post-sales support in the world means nothing if you can’t connect it back to real business value. If you’re going to promote solution specifics, be sure they positively impact the organization’s objectives and aren’t just window dressing.

CTOs want extensive functionality, but they frequently run into situations where sellers promise what engineers later say isn’t possible. Give them concrete evidence that your solution can live up to its projected value.

“Once a sales team talked about themselves for 50 minutes of a 60-minute meeting... what they did, why they are awesome...just smoke. Then we asked them to describe our problem in 45 seconds and they had zero idea. Needless to say, we didn't go with them.”

How a real CTO spots value

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