You Always Have to Sell Innovation
As an innovation leader or intrapreneur, you always have something to sell. In the end it is a product or a service, but during the development of a revenue-generator, you have to sell a vision to internal and external stakeholders.
You communicate that vision by:
• Developing a value proposition that can be adapted for various stakeholders.
• Capturing the very essence of the value proposition in a short and brief elevator pitch that focuses on the recipients of the message.
In Geoffrey Moore’s classic book, Crossing the Chasm, he provides the term “value proposition” as a way to choose from among what is presented to us for consideration. Options include choosing nothing at all, if there are no choices that improve our current situation.
Here are the six elements Geoffrey Moore describe as needed to communicate an effective value proposition:
• For (target audience)
• Who are/wants/needs (statement of needs or opportunity or compelling reason to buy)
• The (product name) is a (product category)
• That (statement of key benefits)
• Unlike (primary competitive alternative)
• Our product (statement of primary differentiation)
Keep in mind that some adaptation of these elements might be required for communicating value propositions for things other than products or services. However, this approach allows you to convey all important aspects without providing too much information. It also enables you to explain your product or service in a few sentences, which is short enough for people to remember. This framework can also be used later when creating your “elevator pitch.” Here the idea is that if you can convey your message to others in 60 seconds or less, they will remember the majority of the value proposition. Since word of mouth is one of the biggest forms of communication, this is extremely important.
You will most likely never get to use an elevator pitch in the true sense, as you will almost always have more than a minute to make your case when you interact with others. However, if you think that means there is no need to do this, you’d be wrong. Preparation is the key point of value propositions and elevator pitches. The learning you gain while defining your value proposition and tuning your pitch will make you understand your product, service, or message so well that it will become much easier for you to achieve success. That creates all the reasons in the world to take this very seriously.
Picture this: you have worked on an idea that can really make a difference at your company. Nevertheless, you have difficulties getting in touch with the key stakeholders, and when you do, you keep hitting the wall of indecisiveness.
Then one day you get a break. After having given yet another so-so presentation to people who seem unable to make a decision, you step into the elevator with the person who can singlehandedly decide whether your idea is boom or bust. You know this is your big–and perhaps only–shot. Your pulse quickens. Your body temperature rises. What do you do?
Too few people are prepared to deal with such a situation. They have not given such a situation much thought, let alone prepared something to say or rehearsed saying it. So instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, they just let it walk out the door or mess it up and end up looking like an incompetent fool. Do not leave this to luck. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
Stefan Lindegaard is a speaker, network facilitator and strategic advisor who focus on the topics of open innovation, intrapreneurship and how to identify and develop the people who drive innovation.
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