“So, what do you do?” is more than a pleasantry; it’s an opportunity to shine.
You can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating your value. Even if you craft the perfect three-sentence pitch, it’s a bad habit to try to use it in all settings or with all prospects.
The hard truth is that there are at least three alternatives to buying your product/service: Your prospect can do the job themselves, select someone other than you to help them, or ignore that anything needs to be done at all. You must convince them that you’re the person they should hire, and that your company is the one that understands their needs best. To do that, you’ll need to effectively communicate the benefit of working with you. This is your value proposition positioning statement, and while it is a basic concept, mastering it can be anything but.
Here are six of the most critical bases you must cover to effectively explain what you offer and how it sets you apart from your competitors.
1. Knowing who your target customer is — backwards and forwards
When you’re connecting with a new friend, you’re naturally going to share stories and anecdotes that are relatable; the idea is to find common ground, not change your personality or exaggerate so they like you. Why should sales be any different?
When it comes time to relay who you are and what you do, you should already know whether they are a fit for your product or service, and which parts of your “story” they might find the most interesting. Tailor your explanation. To do that, you’ll need to target who you’re speaking to from the outset. That way, you won’t find yourself in conversation with a manager who has no use for your product or service. Drill down what makes your ideal customer, from industry to company size, location, and so on, and get in front of those people.
2. The need or business problem you can solve
This tip may be Sales 101, but you’d be surprised at how often this part is left out of the value proposition positioning statement. When it comes to communicating your value, you have to have a deep and thorough understanding of the problem you solve. By communicating how you can help, prospects are able to see where you fit in. They’ll be able to envision what it would be like if an area where they’re unsatisfied weren’t such a nagging headache — for the duration of your conversation, at least.
Take this a level further and make sure they see how familiar you are with their problem and how easy it can be to solve it. Speak to them in their language, piggyback on the rapport you’ve already built, and keep in mind that you’re not selling them a product, you’re providing them with a solution.
3. The impact of solving that need
Paint your prospect a picture: What does the world look like with their big problem solved? There is, presumably, a hole somewhere in their processes, or a hole that your solution can patch up. What happens once that hole is filled? Illustrate what your prospect will be able to focus on once they tag you in to solve their problem.
Use descriptive language but never exaggerate: Does solving their need open the business up to explore new avenues, produce more efficiently, or bring them closer to their customer base? How much freer are they to concentrate on outreach, innovation, design, or providing their own clients with solutions to their problems? Show them the way the world can look if they work with you and they’ll be less likely to go back to the world in which they still have to deal with that problem.
4. Your offerings
How do you run your business? How do you work with customers to solve their problems, and what is your philosophy when it comes to delivering your product or service? Prospects will need a snapshot of what it would be like to work with you. Because, as we already mentioned, they could go to someone else who does what you do and solve their problem. It’s up to you to show them why they will have a great experience working with you.
As always, getting this point across concisely is key. Frame your offerings within the context of what it is like to buy from you, instead of the one-sided sales mindset that others in your position sometimes have. Don’t be so focused on making the sale that you forget your prospect is coming in as a buyer with a vastly different perspective than yours. Think, “What are my offerings and how would I receive them if I were buying from myself?” Communicate the points that you would want to hear as a buyer.
5. Proof of concept
More important than any promise is proof that your approach — and your product — works. Can you share with your prospect an example of a time you helped another business in their position? The same way you’d want to paint a picture of what life would be like if they chose to work with you, describe another instance when your concept worked elsewhere.
Dive into whatever details you feel are necessary for this prospect — whatever information might resonate with them the most is important to include. Demonstrate that your approach has worked for others before and sense how your prospect relaxes into the conversation. When you substantiate your claims, they’ll be more likely to buy from you.
6. How you are distinctly different from others in your field
Finally, what may be the most important part of your pitch is why they should work with you. As we mentioned at the beginning, your prospect can choose to hire someone else who offers the same solution that you do. How are you different? Why should you be the one they trust to solve this problem? Maybe it’s your unparalleled support, or track record for success — maybe it’s the length of time you’ve been in this business, or a personal connection to an issue they’re having.
Whatever you have in your toolbox that you consider a selling point, exploit it as part of your value proposition. Include it in the conversation. Anticipate this question from the prospect and provide them with the answer before they even ask it and you’ll be highlighting the reason they should choose you before anyone else.
Tick all of these boxes and you’ll be on your way to showing how you offer a solution that is unique to your prospect’s problem instead of reciting a canned pitch that may not suit your audience. Never offer a blanket value proposition positioning statement and expect everyone to think of it as interesting or relevant. Don’t be afraid to write and rewrite your statement as often as possible — the industry changes, your audience’s needs are nuanced and specific, and the rest of the sales force is always evolving. Make sure you stay on top!