Posted 19th December 2007.
I was recently given a clear reminder of how easy it can be to drift away from your core sales positioning – and how dangerous that can be.
For more years than I care to remember I've positioned the value of my consulting services and expertise as being able to practically implement new ideas and solutions to achieve tangible business results. Yes, I like to think I can bring thought leadership and leading-edge practices; but those things only bring value when they result in real change and improvement with bottom-line benefits.
That positioning has always seemed to resonate with clients – but over the last few years I've drifted away from using it. Sometimes it's felt like I've talked about it so often that surely it's “old hat”. Surely everyone understands that value from consulting only comes when real improvements are made, not when reports are written or presentations delivered? Surely all consultants position their services this way and I risk just becoming “one of the pack”?
So over the years I've tried to make my positioning more “sophisticated” – making the importance of successful implementation a given, or even an unstated assumption.
But a recent conversation with a potential client (where I almost accidentally focused on my old “successful implementation” message) highlighted for me that it still resonates brilliantly – and is very often the most important factor for many clients. The client almost bit my hand off when I started talking about how I focused on strategies which were proven and practical and how I stayed with them to ensure they were implemented successfully.
In my quest to improve my positioning over the years I'd forgotten that although I sit through hundreds of my own sales meetings and presentations; my clients only experience one. Messages which for me had become stale and seemed old hat can still hit all the right buttons for them.
By focusing on my perception of my positioning rather than my clients I had begun to drift away from something that worked really well.
Key learning: If you find yourself wanting to make your positioning or your sales messages more “sophisticated”, or you feel that what you are saying must surely be old news by now – take a reality check. Find out how your clients and potential clients perceive those messages – you may be pleasantly surprised – and you may prevent yourself from a dangerous drift away from something that works really well.