In postings last year I described three kinds of elevator speeches. One, the sales meeting elevator speech or positioning statement is used at the start of a sales meeting to reassure the client that you are a person who knows enough to make the conversation worthwhile.
You don’t use them to convince the client to hire you nor to differentiate you from the competition. You can do these things once you know more about what the client is looking for. For now, you just give the client enough information to get her talking.
A variation on the positioning statement is the theme elevator speech. It is used only in complex sales, sales for large, complex services made over months at many meetings to many buyers against competition. Unlike other positioning statements, these do differentiate you.
In large, complex sales, getting a clear message about why you are special across to many buyers over months can be hard. The many people in the client’s organization involved in some way in the selection process over months will become confused over time about which professionals were with which team.
Suppose that to make the sale you must have ten meetings with a combined total of fifteen members of the client organization. So must two competitors. This is a LOT of meetings. It is imperative that you do something that gives the people in the client organization a clear and simple way to remember what team you are with and how that team is different.
The theme positioning statement is a short, memorable and compelling sentence about what makes you special. Develop it as soon as you know the client’s key concerns and who you are competing against. Once you have created it, you and your team members should repeat it at the beginning of every meeting with a new buyer and as often as is practical at the start of meetings with buyers you already know. It becomes your brand for the purposes of this sale. Here are some examples:
- Knowledge of the Client: We know how special your company’s culture is because we’ve been working with your people to help the company grow for the past fifteen years. (This theme helped a technology consulting firm sell a new service against competitors much better established in that service area.)
- Specialists: Our people work only on [the specific kind of need the client had]. This is what we do. We get results because we have developed an array of techniques and tools focused on [this kind of need]. (This theme helped a firm win business over two larger, multi-service firms.)
- One-Stop Service: We specialize in this kind of problem and can provide every major service required to get it resolved. (This theme helped a firm capture a large share of the market away from firms dealing in only aspects of a large problem a client had to deal with.)
- We Deliver: We’re the firm that successfully defended the five pharmaceutical companies named as co defendants in the class action suit alleging ill effects of taking puscilanta and similar drugs.
You will know that your branding effort is successful when you hear members of the client team start to refer to you in the language you have been using. “Clara works with Bucken Husse. They’re the ones who know how we do things here, because they’ve worked with us for so long.”