A strong value proposition helps elevate first impressions with prospects and customers.

A strong value proposition helps elevate first impressions with prospects and customers.

You are open for business. The building is immaculate: The shrubs are trimmed; the floors are waxed; every office is in perfect order. And look at you: Your smile is beaming; your shirt has just the right amount of starch; your shoes have the perfect shine. You look like a million bucks.

But did you know that how you sound might be a bigger factor in your success? You might have a catchy slogan and jingle for your ads. You might be prepared when someone asks “What do you do?” with a great elevator speech. However, that might not be enough.Let’s face it. In today’s fast-paced world, people are too busy to dig deep into you and your business. That goes for the daughter looking for the right long-term care facility for her mother as much as it does the Fortune 500 CEO in the corner office. Both are looking for one thing from you: value.

In her book “Selling to Big Companies” sales expert Jill Konrath defines a value proposition as “a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services.” It is focused on your customer first, answering the question “How can you help me?”

By contrast, your elevator speech answers the question “What do you do?”, and a unique selling proposition helps you distinguish yourself from your competition. Both are focused on you, not your customer.

Here are some things you can do if you need to strengthen your value proposition:

Do your homework: How well do you really know your target audience? Do you know what the hot buttons are, and how to push them? Find out what value means to them. Learn to speak their language. That’s how you will stand out from the crowd.

Listen to your clients: If you are unsure or unclear about how to present your value to new customers, ask some of your existing ones. Find out from them what your strengths and weaknesses are. Learn why they chose you and the benefits they have received from making that choice. Take lots and lots of notes. This information is worth its weight in gold.

Make it tangible and specific: Don’t tell people you are the best. You might very well be, but don’t leave it at that. We are bombarded by superlatives so often that we have become numb to their effects. Give them the facts that clearly indicate how you are the best choice to fill their needs. Remember, it’s all about the customer here.

Once you have crafted your value proposition, use it everywhere anyone asks “What do you do?”. Use it at the Rotary Club luncheon and the dinner party. Use it to craft a new slogan, if necessary.

Use it in your on-hold message campaign, too. Did you know that more than 85 percent of callers prefer listening to a message on hold over silence? A strong value proposition on hold will not only keep callers on the line, it will reinforce the decision they made to call you in the first place.