Values Marketing vs. Value-Based Marketing Part 3: Creating Value Propositions that Resonate with Purchasing Committees

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Empower Sales Conversations

HomeBlogEmpower Sales ConversationsValues Marketing vs. Value-Based Marketing Part 3: Creating Value Propositions that Resonate with Purchasing Committees

Value marketing and values marketing are two distinct, yet oft-conflated terms. Previously, we explored the basic concepts of value-based and values marketing, as well as three distinct ways in which values marketing informs B2B purchasing decisions.

In this post, we will explore how values marketing can shape the ways B2B marketing and sales teams engage with different members of the buying committee. In our final entry, we will consider the ways in which B2B values marketing shapes the customer relationship across the buying journey and the power of fusing outcomes with values-based marketing messages.

COOs and CFOs routinely ask about the financial value delivered from a purchase. CFOs and procurement professionals routinely ask about the price. As a result, a financial evaluation becomes relevant to most, if not all, stakeholders. Companies that are best able to paint a vision of value to decisionmakers like them are able to win the deal 74% of the time. B2B vendors who fail to convey value information or to address ROI do so at their peril. But deals aren’t won or lost solely on an ROI basis. Purchasing committees consist of stakeholders who have their own perspectives, objectives and biases.

Buying Committee

Each stakeholder has a wide range of needs, from functional utility to risk mitigation and customer satisfaction to higher-order aspirations. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a helpful metaphor, as customer value – delivered in the form of dollarized benefits or savings by the solution – is as fundamental to the B2B sales process as water, food, and shelter are to human existence. Bain’s Elements of Value Pyramid is an excellent example of this method of organizing different types of customer value.

The first step in great B2B values marketing involves a deep understanding of the customer. Marketers should plan for what makes each stakeholder tick. Using customer and landscape research, product and marketing teams must translate their capabilities into quantified value drivers that map to the needs of each stakeholder. As an example, let’s look at a slice of a buying committee in an organization looking to select a marketing automation solution. When purchasing a marketing automation system, the customer will likely have a mix of hard and soft values that span the Value Pyramid.

    • CMO:
      • Hard Value Example: Building a brand and associated marketing operation that supports corporate revenue goals.
      • Core Feature/Benefit: Full-lifecycle reporting that results in faster and better decision-making, resulting in improved program ROI.
      • Soft/Intangible Values Example: Boosting Brand Image and PR for company and self.
      • Soft/Intangible Benefits: Keynote speaking opportunities at the worldwide user conference, access to CMO roundtable
    • Marketing Manager:
      • Hard Value Example: Building and executing successful marketing campaigns that achieve traffic and lead KPIs.
      • Core Feature/Benefits: Powerful automations, workflows, and scheduling tools that boost productivity and save time.
      • Soft/Intangible Value Example: Career growth by expanding their digital marketing skill set.
      • Soft/Intangible Benefits: Certification courses/badges, access to user communities/conferences.
    • Sales VP
      • Hard Value Example: Achieving quarterly and annual corporate sales targets.
      • Core Feature/Benefits: Predictive lead scoring, automated email drips, and CRM integrations that allow reps to focus more time on the leads most likely to close.
      • Soft/Intangible Value Example: Becoming a great coach for the next generation of up-and-coming sales reps.
      • Soft/Intangible Benefits: Real-time lead intelligence paired with user activity and opportunity reporting allows managers to give helpful feedback and highlight wins.
    • Finance/Procurement Manager
      • Hard Value Example: Achieving positive ROI from marketing technology investment.
      • Core Feature/Benefits: Aggregated, dollarized value to all marketing/sales end users.
      • Soft/Intangible Value Examples: Ease of doing business, compliance with corporate vendor security and specific corporate ESG requirements or goals.
      • Soft/Intangible Benefits: Clear contracts, transparent pricing, well-documented SOC2, Scope 3 CO2 emission reporting and Net Zero certifications.

Next, the hard and soft value drivers for each persona and industry segment must be quantified in a format easily digestible by the prospect audience.

    • Hard value drivers tied to the core outcomes are the foundation for solid value marketing and selling. While there is an endless array of functional benefits across the B2B universe, there are fewer core sources of financial value delivered: cost savings, costs avoided, revenue increases, and productivity improvements. In the marketing automation example earlier, improved program ROI, marketing productivity improvements, and enhanced sales efficiency can and should be quantified in terms of magnitude (for example, 2x ROI boost, 20-40% improvement in lead volume, or 10% improved close rates).
      While it is common for product and marketing teams to clearly communicate the hard benefits of their offering in these terms, many B2B teams shy away from dollarizing these outcomes due to the perceived complexity or difficulty. This is a missed opportunity since teams need not be precise to the nth degree. A good way to start is by marrying the magnitude lift reported by other customers with data specific to the prospect (sales team size, annual revenue, widgets produced, etc.) By communicating general value delivered, providing tools to help customers estimate the specific value to them, and orienting marketing campaigns and (later on) sales conversations toward refining these value estimates, teams can communicate quantified value delivered without drowning in complexity. In the process, they establish credibility and build trust.
    • On top of the hard value drivers, applying similar methodology to a solution’s soft and intangible value drivers gives B2B teams a chance to engage in B2B values marketing. By layering the brand messaging that appeals to each stakeholder on top of harder-to-quantify value drivers, B2B teams highlight their differentiation. Here are a couple of examples:

      • Risk Mitigation: The familiar adage is that “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM.” Stakeholders making a significant B2B investment are betting a portion of their professional reputation on the success of your solution. This is a major reason enterprise B2B brands in some verticals – particularly in software/high-technology invest in channels ordinarily dominated by B2C, such as television advertising. When Intuit or IBM spends millions advertising during NFL games, they aim to reach a segment of IT decisionmakers within their audience, reinforcing their dominant market position as a safe bet.
        Risk mitigation can also be framed to appeal to the career growth aspirations of their target audience. Workday’s 2023 Super Bowl ad, featuring the slogan “Be a Finance and HR rock star,” is an excellent example of leaning into the professional aspirations and values of the target audience as a way to reduce the perception of switching risk.


        Similarly, many B2B verticals – such as cybersecurity – have offerings designed to address external risk factors that can be mitigated by investing in their solution. Rather than appeal to ambition, a solid career-based values message in these verticals centers on the adverse outcomes of ignoring this risk and the empowerment that comes with facing it head-on.
        The desire for career growth is a widespread value among B2B stakeholders. While most B2B companies cannot engage in saturation marketing for their solutions, well-crafted corporate, solution, and campaign marketing messages designed to reduce risk perceptions of investing and or switching tend to be impactful and memorable.
        Case studies are another great way of assuaging this risk perception and a fantastic way to begin to quantify value. Seeing how your solution has helped other, similar companies achieve promised outcomes is a big difference-maker in the buyer’s journey. Collecting and maintaining an array of case studies across target use cases and verticals is a proven way to address this at the middle-to-late stages of the customer funnel. In the early stages of the customer journey, customer logos, quotes, and anecdotes have been proven to improve website conversion. Highlighting customer success metrics like Net Promoter Score and cultivating 3rd party testimonials from review sites, as well as from LinkedIn and industry-specific communities, can play a significant role in assuring prospects that you can deliver for their business. Even if the emphasis is not on financial value, they are more impactful when they include quantified or hard-dollar outcomes.

      • Social Responsibility: Social responsibility considerations, such as ESG are rapidly emerging as B2B value drivers in response to shifting consumer preferences, changing reporting requirements, and rising global temperatures. B2B companies are increasingly differentiating themselves by their ESG policies and initiatives, and hard-nosed marketers are weaving these corporate values into their value propositions.
        As with any value driver, how social responsibility considerations are presented and framed varies based on the audience and industry. Some B2B organizations have clear ESG imperatives baked into their mission statements and corporate objectives. For example, most consumer brands are vested in Gen Z’s consumer preferences, so a direct appeal to their stated mission statement may be effective. There are also employee recruitment and retention considerations with an increasingly Millennial and Gen Z workforce.
        For some more conservative industries, more concerned with significant Capex investments than ESG considerations, messaging centered on themes such as modernizing plant infrastructure and avoiding the risk of burdensome regulatory enforcement may be more effective. Within each industry, varying corporate cultures may dictate a different degree of message emphasis during sales conversations.


        Across all industries and corporate cultures, the B2B marketing and sales teams most effective at deploying a social responsibility marketing message are the ones that can quantify its impact in financial terms. While substantial literature on corporate ESG centers on the increased shareholder value of companies that have strong ESG policies (though there are detractors), McKinsey identified five types of financial value drivers associated with ESG:

        • Top-line growth via value chain effects
        • Cost reductions through reduced resource consumption
        • Favorable regulatory relations through subsidy access and decreased risk of burdensome oversight.
        • Boosted productivity by recruiting, motivating, and retaining talent.
        • Fixed asset optimization by investing in sustainable plant resources with lower long-term variable costs.

        Although these are great starting points for quantifying and communicating social responsibility differentiation by translating them into customer value delivered, it is sometimes challenging to dollarize some B2B outcomes. In these cases, it is best practice to take the quantification as far as possible, communicating outcomes alongside other hard-dollar value drivers in ways that align with broad ESG imperatives. Here are some examples:

        • Translating metric tons of GHG emissions reduced by an industrial coating solution into more consumable units, such as the number of trees planted or passenger vehicle miles reduced.
        • Linking fair hiring practices enabled by an HR software suite to broader KPIs such as employee retention and recent graduate hiring.
        • Tying real-time visibility generated by a logistics provider to a corporation’s 100% fair trade objectives.

        For B2B businesses looking to differentiate through values marketing, elements of the offering outside of the core product are often overlooked targets for value quantification and communication. Services are a great example of this, as they can be translated into value drivers such as delivery speed and proximity. Benefits associated with ease of doing business, such as transparent pricing and payment processes, can be communicated to financial stakeholders as deals and relationships mature. Customer success, professional conferences, and training programs, as highlighted in the marketing automation example, exist outside the core software platform but provide a great deal of intangible differentiation and, while often requiring substantial investment, increase the overall brand premium that can be captured in price.

Finally, the value proposition needs to be flexible enough that marketing and sales teams can deploy it in a manner that resonates with individual buying committee members. Myriad messaging frameworks and selling philosophies have varying ways of accomplishing this, but the most effective B2B frameworks center customer value delivered at the core of the message. Essential elements include:

  • A well-crafted set of top-level marketing messages. From a one-sentence value proposition statement to a crisp 30-second elevator pitch and a clear corporate boilerplate, these messages should summarize the aggregate benefits in a memorable, repeatable manner.

  • A clear messaging framework that highlights customer challenges and links them to the customer value created by your solution solving or mitigating them. Solution-level features and associated benefits are perfect for explaining how you do this differently than the competition, but the strongest marketing messages elevate customer value above functionality.

  • A well-segmented digital marketing presence that breaks the value messaging down into relevant industry and persona segments. The specific design will vary company by company. Examples include a website organized to speak to different industries and buyer segments, email marketing and digital advertising campaigns that maximize conversion through persona-specific ads and landing pages, and ABM campaigns with industry and organization-specific personalization and value messaging.

  • Flexible sales presentation technology. Appealing to the hard and soft values of each member of the buying committee is critical. Too often, marketing will deploy messaging that speaks to the value and values specific to each buying persona, only for sales to present the same static slide deck during the first sales call. A flexible, interactive value selling tool, like LeveragePoint, will allow salespeople to tailor the conversation to the relevant committee members in attendance, conveying the value most relevant to those stakeholders.

Marketing and selling B2B solutions as investments that deliver quantified value is a critical first step to value selling success. Communicating a brand value story that inspires customers and their component stakeholders to do business with you heightens differentiation. Doing this well requires a segmented approach for different industries and buying committee members, with a tech stack that supports the ability of marketing and sales to execute this vision.

Value and values marketing, working in tandem, strengthens the overall value proposition. In the final entry of this series, we will examine the relationship-based and outcomes-based implications of values marketing, as well as an actionable list of best values marketing best practices.


Click here to learn how LeveragePoint Value Campaigns help marketers communicate qualitiative, quantitiative, and financial value at the earliest prospect touchpoints. 

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