What’s Your Value Proposition?

Whether or not you use presentations to persuade, sell, market, or showcase, consider this simple question: If you’re presenting to a group of people, surely it’s because you ultimately want them to do something, right? Even if you’re not selling a product or service, at least you want to persuade them to the merits of your point of view. You may want them to think differently or try a new approach.

Still, if you’re trying to convince people of something they’re not interested in, they won’t listen to you. So, when will people listen to you? They listen when you address their interest or their problem. And when and why do people buy? They buy when they are convinced that your solution or value proposition will solve their problem. They take action only when they are convinced.

In certain cases you may need to create or highlight the problem for them. For example “No-one likes to admit they’re living beyond their means. But if more than 10% of your household income is financing “bad debt” then the person I’ve just alluded to is you.” You’ve just created a problem in the mind of someone who one minute ago may have been in denial.
Remember, saying how your solution will solve their problem is far more enticing than describing what a product or service can do. Be sure to build your content based on this time-tested concept called “sell benefits, not features.” To help you do that, you can design your presentation using the following five steps:
1. Outline the problem audience members are dealing with.
2. Describe both the current situation and the ideal situation.
3. Show that the current situation can be improved on.
4. Outline how your solution creates the ideal situation.
5. Show how adopting your solution will solve the problem.

The logic is quite simple. Why would people change their behavior or part with their money unless you’re solving their problems or satisfying their perceived needs? The rate of change or amount they spend is in proportion to three things: (1) their perception of the size of their problem, (2) the consequences of not taking action, and (3) the value of whatever solution they find.

Why do people spend money on luxury items when a basic item usually performs more than 90 percent of the required functions (for example, buying motor vehicles, TV sets, cell phones)? The answer is the same as above—that is, the more luxurious item satisfies their perceived need, even if that need is the desire to be seen as successful. Your ability to find an audience member’s “hot button”—in this case, a need for a high-end product—is your key to their deciding in your favor.
The same principle applies in non-sales situations. For example, the young man who asks for his lady-love’s hand in marriage needs to satisfy her father’s desire to know that he’ll keep her safe and happy. His relationship with his future parents-in-law rests on his ability to persuade them of his intent and ability to do just that.

The CEO needs to convince employees who are implementing a new strategy that they’ll overcome glitches in the production process (their problems), facilitate smoother operations (thus reduce their stress), and foster increased productivity and higher profits (bottom line).

Offer a value proposition that solves their problems and you’ll get their buy-in.

What is Your Competitive Edge?

Two speakers are pitching for an engagement. They seem to offer exactly the same product of exactly the same quality at exactly the same price. You can only choose one speaker. Which would you choose?
When given a choice, people select, often in a split second, what they perceive to benefit them most, often regardless of the fee. In simple terms, they seek the “edge” that tips the scale on their decision-making—the “something” that’s most important to them. They believe their decision is logical, but often it’s a gut feel which even they can not explain.
Today it’s about capturing people’s attention by being different. So before you plan your presentation, identify your edge—the one factor that makes you stand out from your competitors. Because if you don’t have an edge, what do you have?
Not surprisingly, you’ll find the same principle applies to selling an idea, a plan of action, or a viewpoint that encourages audience members to get involved.

Did It Deliver on Your Objective?

It’s wonderful to pull off a slick presentation knowing everything went well: you finished on time, you made emotional connections, you felt people liked you. These are all good, but did you succeed in achieving these critical outcomes:

1. Did the audience understand what your central point was?
2. Did you clearly state your key objective?
3. Did you actually ask them to take action (ask for the business)?
4. Did your audience buy you and did you convince them?

Many seemingly good presentations actually fail to get the sale or persuade listeners to take the desired course of action. That’s why it’s critical to put a strong “outcomes strategy” in place before you start.
Put simply, at what stage will you ask people for your desired outcome and how will you close if they say yes? Prepare for your presentation using these important steps—begin with the end in mind—and you’ve set a clear objective.

[as published in the October 2011 edition of Speaker Magazine http://bit.ly/qQwSID]

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