I went to a business networking event a while ago and listened to an American presenter who was in marketing in the US and bridged the Atlantic by representing clients in the UK too. One thing stuck in my mind, which was when he said, ‘…the trouble with you Brits is that you’re just too damn shy. In the US we don’t have any problem telling our clients why they should choose us and we do it all the time!”
His advice to the audience was to say why we’re the best, and not once but many times provided it was relevant to what our client was interested in and the problem they wanted us to fix.
The trouble is if you’re really honest about your market and your competitors everyone is doing the pretty much the same, so what on earth can you say that will show you as being different or better or unusual? But fear not, because most people stop short of saying these things and leave their client guessing as to what makes them different or better or unusual…and that just leaves room for you.
But rather than boasting about your achievements it’s crucial that you make them relevant to your client and their current issues. I regularly use the term ‘positioning’ in business generation and doing a bit of navel gazing is a great help. Find out everything that makes you great, your people great and what you do great; then position yourself so your potential or current client knows how you can meet their needs and solve their problem.
I use well-crafted value statements based on Vision’s 3Ps Process™ that takes you from the client’s Problem to your Products (your goods or services) to meet their Purpose, which is the actual outcome that your client wants to achieve. When you know the true value of your goods or services and how they will help your customer to fix their problem, you can connect quicker and in a way that they want to see and hear and understand. You can learn more about this technique by downloading ‘Think Like Your Client using the 3Ps ProcessTM’
Of course, when you’re writing a bid or responding to a new business enquiry it is always important to answer the question…but why not answer it in a way that is engaging and shows how you’ve solved similar problems for the benefit of your client? After all, if they can visualise how you’ve done it before and how it relates to them then they will make the connection to why they should choose you without you needing to sell yourself.
One of the greatest orators in this style was of course Ronnie Corbett and now the modern comedians like Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans are following suit with tales that reinforce the topic and make it bigger and funnier and more believable so that when the punch line hits you roar with laughter because you know exactly what they’re talking about because it has happened to you in some way.
And you can use a similar style too to tell your tale. Start by answering the question and then relating it to a similar problem that you faced and say briefly what it was and how you fixed it. It is useful at this stage to think of the comedians and make the problem just that bit bigger and what you did just that bit more involved. This helps to accentuate the risks and helps position you at the centre of the story as the fixer!
But don’t stop there because if you do you are asking your client to finish the story and make up the ending and they might not make the connection you want. You will need to clearly and precisely say what the outcome was…what the benefits to your client were…and, most crucially say why this is important to your client. When you do you will have answered that all important question that all clients wasn’t answering, “what’s in it for me?”
Think about value statements and how you can weave a story into your response