Friday, August 6, 2010

"So, what is it that you do?"

The "elevator speech". That well rehearsed 30-second response to "So, what is it that you do?" We've heard hundreds of them - most of them appallingly bad. We've sought advice from books, webinars, coaches and trainers. We've practiced in front of the mirror with a timer. We've cringed as people recited with a straight face "I make people rich every day!". Its hard to love the elevator speech.

But even if you work in a one-story building with no elevator, having an effective response when someone actually asks what you do is a critical sales skill. So how do you develop an answer that doesn't sound like the keynote speaker at a plaid sports coat convention? Here are a few suggestions from the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE).

  1. Think of the elevator pitch as a basic introduction to your product or service. Just hit the high points of its benefits - the things a happy customer would care about.
  2. Don't sound like a late-night TV commercial. Be conversational. If you sound like you've memorized a script, people will tune you out. Avoid industry jargon and technical terms.
  3. Be personal and personable. Introduce yourself, not your company. Avoid "we" statements and stick to "I" statements.
  4. If your pitch generates some interest, know in advance what the next step is, and how to move on to it. Usually its NOT piling on more details.
  5. Save your business cards for people who actually want them. Most of them end up in the trash on the way out of the room.
If this seems like a lot to cram into 30 - seconds, you're right. But an engaging, effective elevator speech is a key part of your prospecting toolkit. So treat it that way. The worst thing you can do is "wing it". For some really useful suggestions and tools, check out the Pitch Wizard at

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