Get more opportunities by staying focused on solving problems instead of on selling stuff. We are so "me-too" in this business and then we complain about being price shopped, not given a chance to compete, being ignored, or worst of all—not even noticed.
Your problem may not be that you don't have any value to add. Your problem is more likely that you don't tell your story in a compelling way. If you will concentrate on always answering FOUR questions in all of your marketing and selling communications, you should get more attention, more interest, more opportunities and more respect.
1. What do you do? I'd like you to answer that question without using these words—sell, product, find, price, quality or service. Can you do it? Can you get three words put together without making someone's eyes glaze over? "My promotions helps organizations improve their profits, performance, people and position in the marketplace." Boom! It's what your company does.
2. What problem do you solve? Your job is to solve problems. Period. End of discussion. Find the pain. Be the aspirin. If you don't solve problems, quit wasting other people's time. This takes research into your clients' and prospects' businesses, industries and markets; and it is a never-ending quest on your part to be more relevant. "Organizations are being asked to do more with fewer resources in a changing world. Reaching the right people with the right message at the right place and time requires new thinking and new solutions." Boo-YAH! You've identified a problem that you might be able to solve.
3. How are you different? If you want different results, you better start being different. That means speaking differently, acting differently and setting yourself apart from others who are chasing the same dollars. "Other promotion companies focus on selling you products or distracting you with the shiny object. They focus on finding cheap substitutes to tough problems. We take a different approach. We make recommendations based on what you need to accomplish and building upon successes." YES! You have just pointed out how your approach and world view differs from 20,000 other companies that are chasing an order. Don't chase the order. Chase the solution.
4. Why should I care? This is the most important answer that you must provide. Can you tell someone why what you do, why you do it and how you do it really matters to them? If you don't tell them "what's in it for them?" then you haven't told them any thing that matters. If you only have 10 seconds—make sure that you answer this question. "We create a strong return on investment and powerful results around sales, marketing and engagement challenges. We also like to make our clients look good." UH-HUH! They get it! You're going to help them add good details to their résumé!
Memorize these four question. Think about your answers to them. If you ever have the opportunity to answer one of these, answer all four of them instead. You must remember to set up the problem by going into very clear detail of the pain point. It is up to YOU to set up the problem. You are telling a story. It's a story where you are the hero. You will ride in on your white horse and solve the problem. Remember that no one has a promotional products problem. No one cares about your stuff. People care about solving their problems. Find the pain. Be the aspirin.
What I have described is classical storytelling. Introduce the problem and then reveal yourself as the conquering hero.