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Value-Added Selling – Part 2 of 4

Selling Your Company

In this second issue, I’ll discuss the next step, which is when and how to “sell your company” to your prospect.

The Elevator Pitch

The first thing you need to do is develop a “Sell your company” statement, which helps position your company. This statement is typically referred to as an “Elevator Pitch” because it should be short enough to tell someone exactly what you do in the time it takes them to get on and off an elevator. Here’s the drill – You’re in an elevator and someone enters with you. They say, “Hi. What do you do?” You have about 4 floors to get them to understand what you do before they walk out. Can you do it? Possibly not.

Most sales people I speak with don’t have a good, consistent elevator pitch. They stumble and stammer about what their company does, or what they think it does, and the end result is a confusing message that actually makes it sound like their company is pretty confused, if not incompetent. So you need to work on developing a good elevator pitch. This is also called a 60-second commercial, for obvious reasons. This will, and should, take you a lot of time to develop since this is not an easy exercise. But it is well worth the effort.

Your Sell the Company statement needs to focus on the points that distinguish your company from the competition and describes what makes you unique. Of course it needs to be benefits-oriented so it addresses what you can do for them and how you can improve their situation, and not be feature or product oriented. It should also address any concerns they may have so that your reputation and credibility are established. For instance, you may be a small company and some of your prospects may feel uncomfortable working with someone so small. So, your statement needs to proactively address this with a point such as how being small allows you to move quickly, be more flexible, make changes without delays, and address your customer’s needs without any corporate bureaucracy. This is the opportunity to make your company shine by putting it in the best light possible. Take advantage of it.

Here’s the elevator pitch I use for my company: “We help businesses acquire and retain customers. We do this by helping companies develop sales processes, improve their customer retention strategies, and provide sales training to their reps…” I cover several key benefits in this statement, such as acquire and retain customers, which I know is important to every business. I then explain how we do this with simple to understand statements that they can easily relate to. I don’t talk about HOW I do these things, I just say WHAT we do. If they are interested in what I just said, I can assure you they will ask me how I do it. And that’s a good thing.

Your statement should net out what you do in a simple, benefits-oriented style with a summary of the major functions you perform. Don’t explain details or features, and don’t get too long. Once again, this is where you explain the value of working with your company and you have to get the point across before they leave the elevator, or more likely, before they lose interest.

So far, we’ve been discussing new prospects. But, is it necessary to “sell” your company to your existing customers each time you meet with them? It certainly is. And here’s why. You can’t assume that your customers are keeping up with your company’s every move. If you haven’t seen them in 6 months, don’t be naïve enough by thinking they actually are keeping up with your company’s activities. They have their own business to worry about.

You need to make sure they know about your latest accomplishments. Of course you don’t need to give them the same elevator speech you give to new prospects, since they already have a sense of what you do and who you are. But you want to update them on what’s new. Your newly updated web site is important for them to know about. The new addition to your plant or new office in Newark, NJ are important updates. That large account you just landed is another good one. All this information builds your credibility and lets them know that your company is growing, thriving, and will still be around for a long time for them to be doing business with. This adds to their confidence and continues to build your value. So don’t forget to do this with your existing customers as well.

Differentiate Yourself

Once you make sure you established your credibility with your prospect (see last month’s issue), you then have to make sure you accurately match your solutions with the prospect’s needs. Of course, this only happens once you’ve asked the right questions, listened carefully to the prospect’s answers, understood their requirements, verified that you heard and understood what the prospect said, and established the credibility of yourself and your company. These steps, by the way, are important to do in the order listed and key ingredients to a successful Sales Process.

Now we are ready to match your solution to the prospect’s requirements. At this point it is critical to present what makes you unique. There could be ten vendors who can meet their needs, but only the one that shows them how they can uniquely solve their problem will win. Therefore, you must differentiate yourself to succeed.

Here’s an example of how you can present what you do that sets you apart from your competitors.

Say you mention the following “Feature” to your prospect: “Our new Projector is lighter and smaller than other projectors in this price range.” Your prospect can be thinking “Big deal. What’s in it for me?” And this would be a normal reaction since at least ten other vendors can say the exact same thing about their projectors.

You then must follow that up with this “Benefit”: “Your sales people can easily take this with them on business trips without having to check it in with their luggage, hence avoiding lost or broken equipment.” Now that’s a very good benefit, and one a sales manager should definitely relate to. But it’s still not that unique and could be viewed as a “yawner”.

But here’s the show stopper. You add this Uniqueness: “And in case something does go wrong, we will replace or repair it within 2 hours at your location, no matter where you are.” Now that’s a Wow factor. If no other vendor offers that service, then you’ve added more value to the sale than anyone else.

It’s a uniqueness like this that makes value-added selling a success. But you have to find your unique qualities and present them in this feature-benefit-uniqueness fashion. Why? Well, note that the feature in this example addresses a specific problem the prospect was having. I learned this when I went through the qualification phase earlier. I learned that the sales manager was tired of his sales reps complaining about lugging heavy projectors on their trips, paying for repair bills, and most importantly, wasting sales trips caused by damaged equipment which prevents his reps from doing their presentations effectively. So the feature describes the product’s easy portability, the benefit drives it home by relating it to his sales rep’s convenience when traveling, and then we hit a home run with a unique service that will give his reps the confidence they need if something goes wrong while traveling. How good is that?

To successfully add value to the sale you have to make sure you differentiate yourself. Your differentiation might be a feature of your product, a service of your company, or something more abstract such as your attention to detail, and testimonials can help prove this. But you HAVE to show how you are different.

We’ve been discussing adding value to the sale all along by establishing credibility, selling our company, and differentiating ourselves. We’re now ready to get into more specific details about how to do value-added selling. And that’s what the next step is all about, where I’ll talk about Relationship-Selling. Till then, start working on your elevator pitch.