The impact of the quake was immediate and unmistakable.
These same vacation travels afforded many opportunities to chat up sales people. One of them offers business products to small businesses. Ever curious, I asked, what do you do?
Him: I sell business forms, checks, and printing services to small businesses.
Me: (Attempting to stifle a yawn) Well, that’s great. I run a small business. How are you different from the other guys who might offer similar products to me?
Him: Well, we are very committed to small businesses. We’ve designed our product line especially for small business owners and their employees.
Me: That sounds good. How do you sell to them? Or, how do they buy?
Him: I’m the primary point of contact. I make sales calls on them. In addition, they can use the 1-800 phone center, use our web site, or order by mail. Convenience is key.
Me: Do you provide other services?
Him: Yes, we can help with design or process issues, for example, designing collateral material for a marketing campaign for which we’re printing materials. We also refer our clients to others who can help them with different aspects of their businesses.
OKAY, this all sounds WONDERFUL, and what does he actually do? All we’ve heard so far is feature, feature, feature, feature, feature. What VALUE do he or his products create?
Suppose he’d said one of the following:
SHORT VERSION: I help small business owners reduce costs and time for record keeping and communications.
Or… MEDIUM VERSION: I help small business owners grow revenue and reduce record keeping, communications, and marketing costs by providing business forms, procedures design, printing, and graphic arts services.
Or… LONG VERSION: I work with small business owners. Many of them are very good at doing whatever they do, but they don’t have much experience designing or managing their back office processes, and they don’t have the staff to design marketing materials or campaigns. So, I help small business owners reduce costs and time dedicated to record keeping and communication by providing business forms, procedures design, printing, and graphic arts services.
Any of the three versions would have provided a specific VALUE proposition – costs and time. But he didn’t say that. He described features of his product and service – very folksy, lovely over a ginger ale, and not powerful.
So, when asked, what do you do, start first with your value proposition, immediate and unmistakable, with impact that wakes your listeners up. BAM!