“How often do you change your value statement . . . AKA . . . your ‘Elevator Pitch’?”
I ask that of people I meet with in workshops and in passing conversations. Those who say they “rarely change” fall into 1 of 2 camps:
- they’ve not given the subject a lot of thought, or
- they’ve found something that works and they’re not going to ‘fix what ain’t broken’
But most of the time I hear, “I’m always changing it — when I find one I like, I’ll let you know!”.
The Search for a Good Elevator Pitch Never Ends
While I’m all for having a short, targeted statement that resonates with someone who may find the value proposition you offer is of interest, it’s just a the ‘first move’ in a larger game of marketing ‘chess’.
It may help you capture the attention of a potential prospect, but it’s not going to close a sale. In fact, there’s a long way between your ‘opening gambit’ and the ‘checkmate’ move that ends the game!
What you may want to give as much (if not more!) thought to is what is your value proposition? That’s not necessarily something that fits the one-size-fits-all approach, nor is it something that you can give out as quickly and easily as an elevator pitch.
Your Value Proposition Is Not Your Elevator Pitch
If your elevator pitch is useful in ‘opening the game’ — like a good serve in tennis or a solid drive off the tee, your value proposition is what sustains the game to a decisive conclusion.
Your value proposition is the ultimate basis for a qualified prospect making a decision to do business with you. Or, not. The latter being true if you’re not a good fit for one another.
How Your Value Proposition and Elevator Pitch Differ
An effective elevator pitch must answer two questions:
- “Are you relevant . . . to me?”
- “What benefit will I enjoy . . . as a result of working with you?”
The relevance issue . . .
is easily addressed by defining or communicating WHO . . . is your ideal client. One of my clients likes to say, “I work with business owners who are 55 years old or older . . .”. That’s pretty clear and, I can tell you from her feedback, it’s pretty effective in quickly engaging the attention and interest (or, curiosity) of people who are over 55 and own a closely-held business.
The benefit issue . . .
is easily addressed by pointing out, in a very tangible way, what someone stands to gain (or, avoid losing) as a result of using the problem-solving expertise, products and/or services of the person who’s answering the questions, “What DO you do?” Another client describes the beneficial difference he makes in a client’s life this way: “I help my clients achieve their 5 year plan goals in 3 years or less”. Again, a measurable outcome he offers as a meaningful benefit that attracts the attention and engages the interest of someone he’s just met.
If your elevator pitch is a one-size-fits-all statement of WHO and WHY, your value proposition is more of a custom-tailored response that perfectly addresses the questions:
- “Why You?” and
- “Why Not?”
Why YOU? . . .
The fancy-schmancy marketing term this suggests is ‘positioning’ or ‘differentiating’.
It goes to the issue that, all other things being equal, what makes you the preferred provider of the beneficial solution to the problem that you used your elevator pitch to capture my attention back when we first met?
If you’re no different — or, better — than other providers of the solution I may (now) be interested in . . . any competitor with a clear and compelling reason to chose them over you could . . . beat you out at the box-office. So you’d best find out why you’re not only different but better than the alternatives.
Why NOT? . . .
In sales, there’s an old adage that says, “A decision to do nothing, is still a decision”. I’d argue it’s the default decision that each of us must assume when talking with a prospective client. They’ve been doing something before we showed up and they may feel that’s good enough UNLESS . . . they learn of a compelling reason to do something different.
This raises the issue of ‘risk’. No one likes to make a mistake. So they make a decision to do no thing that will change their situation — for the better or, the worse. It’s a big reason behind why people don’t take actions that could, potentially, benefit them.
You probably hear of many people who didn’t jump back into the stock market after the big crash in 2008 out of fear of getting ______’ed again. But they lost out on the recovery, too.
You’ll need to manage the risk of action vs. inaction in the value proposition you offer someone or they may just decide to ‘stay put’. And that, for both of you, may be more costly than either of you like.
The 3 Keys . . . To a Successful Value Proposition
If you want to build a value proposition that will move people to make a decision about working with you, consider what you must address with whatever and however you communicate it . . .
Interest . . . you must focus your prospect’s attention on WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). Everyone has more choices for investing their time and money than they have time and money to invest. Unless you’re talking about what your prospect cares about, you’ll be talking to yourself before too long! So focus on the benefit you offer and hit it . . . hard and quickly.
Competitive Position . . . despite what your mother told you, you are not the only game in town. You have competition. You know it. Your prospects know it, too. So embrace the obvious. The ‘elephant’ in the room. How? By acknowledging your prospects’ alternatives to you. Reference your competitors and position who you are, what you offer and how you’re better . . . relative to your alleged competitors.
Avis rental cars claimed, “We’re #2, we (have to) try harder”. By adopting that position, they re-positioned the #1 car rental company (Hertz) very effectively . . . “They’re #1 . . . they don’t have to . . . (give a _ _ _ _!)”.
Credibility . . . prospects are not clients (yet) because they’re already doing some thing else! Think about it. They are already doing some-thing by simply doing no-thing . . . with you or anyone else in your field! A decision to do nothing is still a decision to do something . . . to maintain their status quo. Why do people do this?
Life coaches Walt Hampton and Ann Sheybani teach that the desire to avoid possible pain is, for most of us, more powerful than the desire to make changes that may lead to greater gain. We may want to ‘steal 2nd base’ but we know keeping our foot on first base won’t get us tossed out of the game.
Never mind that doing no-thing may be more costly than some-thing you may be suggesting. We don’t make changes easily until we believe the cost of doing nothing (different) poses a greater risk of loss than the benefit we may gain by doing something new, different, and . . . possibly better.
Your value proposition must address these three issues — interest, position and credibility. How? Often with client testimonials that your prospect can relate to as credible parties whose situation was similar to what their’s is now and whose outcomes were more promising to seek than maintain the status quo they’re living with now.
Your Elevator Pitch can start the game, but a solid Value Proposition can close the sale for you
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