“So, what do you do?”

Such a simple question that lands so many sales and business professionals in hot water. Hang around any conference and listen to how a bunch of “What do you do” conversations unfold, and you’ll hear some pretty anemic attempts at answers.

The answers are painful to listen to. The only thing more painful… is when you’re the one who’s not quite sure how to answer the question.

If you want to succeed in business or in sales, there’s no time like the present to start succeeding with the answer to the question, “What do you do?”

To do so, you must be able to communicate your value. Start by building your value proposition positioning statement. This is a compelling, tangible statement of how a company or individual will benefit from buying from you. If you can’t communicate your value then, as you might imagine, it’s pretty tough to succeed in sales in general.

There are six building blocks that you should consider in building your value proposition positioning statement.

As you read through them, take time to answer each question thoughtfully:

1. Target customers. Whom do you serve? What makes for an ideal customer regarding industry, location, size, type and so on? This allows the person on the receiving end to think, “They work with companies like ours and people like us.” Know your target customer so you can craft messages that will resonate with them. In addition, the more you can position specialization for a particular buyer set, the more you differentiate.

2. Need/business problem. What types of needs and business problems do you address? How do you help? This helps prospects understand how and when they should use you.

3. Impact of solving need. What are the financial and emotional benefits of solving the need? How do you provide value? You may be thinking, “We do so much, and the specifics are always different.” When crafting your value proposition positioning statement, choose one or two, generalize the type of impact, and later, in proof of concept, you can give a specific example or two. This helps people see why they should address the needs you can help them address.

4. Your offerings. What’s your product and service approach, how do you run your company, solve problems and work with customers? Notice that company and offerings are a fourth here. Don’t lead with your capabilities. Take a customer-centric approach and frame your offerings within the context of the needs you can help solve.

5. Proof of concept. How can you demonstrate that your approach has worked to solve similar problems for others? How do you substantiate your claims? How do they know that what you say will happen, will actually happen?

Tip: Use reference stories and case studies to provide evidence for your customers to substantiate your claims.

6. Distinction. Why is your offering preferable to other options for solving the need? Do you have something unique about you that’s worthwhile to share? Is there some way to highlight how you’re distinct from others?

As you build your value proposition positioning statement, take care not to build just one canned statement that you use with everyone. Slick “elevator pitch” deliveries always sound just a little too practiced and smooth. These six components are building blocks that you can use to build the story you want to deliver.

Just like the wooden blocks we all had as kids, you can use the same blocks to build all sorts of different shapes, towers and cathedrals. Pick and choose which blocks to use in your conversations based on the particular situation. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to make it sound natural.

Then you’ll be ready in any business or sales conversation to properly position your value.

People all too often stop here, though, thinking that getting their value proposition positioning statement down is the end of the story. It’s not. It’s the beginning.

Kick off a conversation right by positioning yourself and your value well, and you place yourself on a great platform for leading an amazing rainmaking conversation.

Author's Bio: 

Mike Schultz is President of RAIN Group http://www.rainsalestraining.com, a sales training, assessment, and sales performance improvement company that helps leading organizations improve sales results. Mike is author of Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade and Sell in Any Situation http://www.amazon.com/dp/0470922230 and publisher of RainToday.com. He also writes for the RAIN Selling Blog http://www.rainsalestraining.com/blog. He can be reached at mschultz@raingroup.com.