Does your firm have a value proposition? Is it developed into a messaging hierarchy that every single person in the company can articulate? If you were in an elevator with your absolutely best prospective customer, could you succinctly state how you offer value to that person and their firm? Could everyone and anyone in your company deliver the value proposition in, say, an elevator?
Here's a quick 4 step elevator pitch template to help get you started with a messaging hierarchy based on the value proposition. The first step is to prepare your pitch.
Step 1 - Answer the question 'What does [insert company name] do?"
If you say, we manufacture widgets with feature, feature, feature and benefit, benefit, benefit then you might as well shut up and go home right then and there. If you haven't realized it by now, features and benefits do not foster engagement unless there is a distinct and immediate need at the very moment you state your F's & B's.
Studies have shown that only 3% of your prospective customers are ready to make a buying decision at any given time such as being in an elevator with you. If you spent all day riding the elevator at your next conference and were lucky enough to ride with 100 prospective customers, only 3 would be ready to hear your product pitch.
Instead of a product pitch, try starting with your (or your company's) unique and interesting value. You might say, "We [state your value proposition]”, then you have a good shot at gaining your elevator companion's interest. For example, you might say “We're in the business of reducing risk of FDA violations for food manufacturing companies". Hmmm, thinks the VP Quality of Kraft. Since your prospect is the VP Quality for a major global food manufacturing company, maybe he's interested in a bit more information.
One big mistake a lot of manufacturing companies make is that they craft a value proposition as a description of the company or the offering. This is not a value proposition. A value proposition must answer the question, "Why should I choose your company instead of your competitor?"
Step 2 - Answer the question "Just how do you do that?"
Here is where you can introduce your offering and how the features and benefits support the value proposition. For example, after the prospect asks you how you can reduce risk of FDA violations in food production facilities, you could say, "By providing environmental monitoring systems with feature and benefit that is unique to the market. Our customers see a 95% reduction in FDA violations."
Step 3 - Prove it.
Here is where you could tell a success story or talk about a major customer and how they use your company’s offering to achieve the value proposition you opened with.
Tell your elevator companion how you are unique or different. "We've just launched a patented product that does this and that" or "We're the only company with this technology that ……" State that you are providing this service for a major competitor (must be authentic here).
Step 4 - Leave the elevator.
If you did well and your elevator mate is indeed one of your ideal prospects, she will not let you go without getting your business card.
Naturally, good and proper message development takes a lot of work and should align with corporate strategy. If you can't make a 30-second elevator speech like this one, you should take a hard look at your value proposition.
Here's a test, dear reader. Quickly, state your firm's value proposition in 50 words or less. If it doesn't flow off your silver tongue with little effort, get to work on your messaging.