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The Elevator Speech

December 24, 2014

Did your grandma ever ask you what you do? You start explaining your job, your business, what happens each day, what goes right, and what goes wrong. Then, before you know it, she has fallen asleep?

What happened?

What happened is that you were unable to articulate, in sound bite fashion, in language she could understand, in a time frame she could manage, what the heck it is you do.

If your inheritance was riding on that conversation, you might have been out of luck right? Well this scenario is played out every day in business and you, the seller, are the loser when your prospect “falls asleep.”

In our busy fast-paced world, we often only have a few moments to grab someone’s attention. If we fail to do so in those first few moments, we may have lost their attention and a sale forever.

Fortune 500 companies have studied this social phenomenon in detail and recognize its importance. They have come up with a training solution called “the elevator speech.” You to can learn this and use it whenever you need to. Believe me, it will significantly improve your sales effectiveness.

Imagine the following scenario. This may have actually happened to you. If not, it probably will:

You have been trying for quite a while to get a meeting with a very important prospective customer or distributor. This person could have a big impact on the revenues of your company if you sell them on your product/approach, but you just can’t seem to get time with them. You are in a building in your hometown and you push the button to summon the elevator to go meet a friend at their office. The elevator door opens and there is only one person inside: the very important prospect you’ve been trying to meet with. You enter the elevator and the door closes. Now what?

You have maybe 30-60 seconds alone with this person before they get out at another floor or someone else gets in the elevator. That is 30-60 seconds to make your case for a meeting—to get them interested enough to agree to a follow up. What will you do?

If you are unprepared for this scenario, you will stare at the floor numbers in the elevator without saying a word until the prospect exits. Or you will launch into the rambling speech that put your grandma to sleep. Either way, you have lost a golden sales opportunity.

What you need is an “elevator speech” that is rehearsed, memorized, and ready to go at all times.

An elevator speech is a 30-60 second clear articulate sound bite in non-technical terms that describes who you are, what you do, why the prospect should be interested in you, and a next step.

Think you don’t need one? Test yourself, right now. Without preparation, no mumbling, speak out loud a 30-second sound bite about what you do and why someone should do business with you.

Did you do it? If so, chances are you mumbled, stumbled a little, repeated yourself, or went way over 30 seconds.

This is not as easy as it sounds for most people, which is why Fortune 500 sale forces require their people to rehearse their elevator speeches before going out to the field.

As you develop your elevator speech, remember that your goal is to grab the person’s attention quickly, make it easy for them to understand what you are saying, and see a benefit in what you have to say. You are not trying to close a sale; you are just trying to get a next step opportunity.

Here is a sample elevator speech:

“Mr. Jones? Let me introduce myself, I’m Kathy Sampson, I’m with MLM Reporter. We are one of the largest lead and marketing tool providers to the network marketing industry. I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you. We’ve been working with Joe Johnson, and have had great positive feedback from your organization so far on our leads and tools. We  wanted to talk to you about a more formal relationship that would generate additional profits for both our companies. Here’s my card, I’d like to call your secretary and get on your calendar at your earliest convenience.”

Spoken slowly and clearly, this elevator speech is about 30 seconds long.
What are its key components? It may look simple, but it carries some important messages:

  • You confirm you’ve got the right person.
  • You tell him who you are.
  • You tell him who you represent.
  • You tell him what your company does.
  • You gain referential credit by mentioning you are already working with his company and things are going well. Mention a name if you are sure it will add credibility.
  • You add a benefit statement, such as additional profits.
  • You initiate the next step.

Use this framework to develop your own 30-second elevator speech. Trust me—without formally preparing it, being in front of a very important decision maker under a tight time constraint will likely make you flub your lines. With your elevator speech ready to go, you will always be prepared for that important moment, ready to articulate what you’re all about. Even to your grandma.

Have a fabulous week!

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