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Create a Corporate Story that will Resonate

Remember Professor Harold Hill, the Music Man, who convinced the good people of River City that they needed a marching band—with 76 trombones? Professor Hill was a powerful persuader. He not only created an uplifting vision in the minds of the townspeople, but persuaded them to make that vision a reality. As a result, motivated parents ordered instruments and uniforms for the many soon-to-become-talented River City children.

What a great lesson for marketers and sales folks trying to make a compelling case for their company’s products and services. No matter how complex the organization, anyone can become as successful as Professor Hill with the right tools and preparation. The first step is an effective corporate story, one that enables sales representatives to accomplish the following crucial steps in the sales process:

  • Get The Prospects’ Attention. To break through the clutter, the corporate story needs to be descriptive and memorable, as well as simple, clear and credible.
  • Tell A Convincing Story. An effective corporate story persuasively articulates an organization’s value propositions and explains what makes the company different—and so much better—than the competition.
  • Make An Emotional Connection. A compelling corporate story paints a vivid picture that enables prospects to envision and identify with the benefits offered.
  • Gain Commitment and Close The Sale. It is important that prospects take the “next step” while they are still enthused and motivated.

Take It To The Top

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone in your organization could be as persuasive as Professor Hill? Impossible, you might say. Only salespeople are hired for their ability to communicate and convince, and not all of them are as compelling as Professor Hill. Therefore, wouldn’t it be foolhardy to assume that even the most articulate receptionist, accountant or IT specialist could make a solid case about your company’s value proposition? Well, yes and no. With a little planning and creative marketing, you can prepare your entire organization to effectively represent your company and provide unconventional sales support.

As the old adage tells us, “You only have one opportunity to make a first impression, so use it well.” The best way to make sure that everyone in an organization is ready to make the most of every opportunity to effectively represent the company is to arm them with a great elevator speech.

Legend has it that the term elevator speech began in Hollywood where a writer or director had only the time of “an elevator ride in a very short building” to pitch a movie idea. The term was later adopted by entrepreneurs who felt they often had a similarly short period of time to make their case to a venture capitalist. Today the “elevator speech” is an important sales tool used by everyone from job hunters to the representatives of global mega-corporations.

The concept is simple: Assume that you get on an elevator on the ground floor and find yourself standing next to an important prospect. Could you, in the time it takes to get to the fifth floor, be able to convey what your firm does; the benefits it offers; and why that prospect should be doing business with your firm? If the answer is yes, then you have a great “elevator speech.”

Experienced sales people have learned that the value of an effective elevator speech goes well beyond an elevator ride. They always have a well-rehearsed elevator speech ready to be used whenever—and wherever—the occasion warrants.

There is an opportunity for marketers to step in and “repurpose” the elevator speech from a more creative perspective. The result could be an unconventional form of sales support that involves the entire organization. First, create an elevator speech that is concise and persuasive. Then, make sure that everyone in the organization knows it and understands it. Dissemination is the key to success, so be creative. Laminate the elevator speech on wallet cards for every employee. Embed it in Lucite cubes for everyone’s desk. Reproduce it on posters in the lunch room. Encourage managers to discuss the importance of the corporate message embodied in the elevator speech during group meetings. In short, implant it in the hearts and minds of everyone in the organization.

As a result, an entire organization of newly minted “sales people” will be prepared when asked what they do and where they work. Whether in a professional or social setting, they will be able to provide an informative, persuasive response that will make a positive first impression. . . and who knows where that might lead.

The Bottom Line

Marketing’s role is to communicate an organization’s value propositions and support and facilitate the sales process. An innovative way to accomplish this goal is to use the proven concept of a short and sweet elevator speech to create a program that will prepare all employees to extol corporate virtues effectively and persuasively in all types of situations. While this is both logical and intuitive, it is a mission that few marketing functions assume.