“So what do you do?” they ask. You’re prepared (or at least you think you are). You know this “elevator speech” shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds. You even practiced the skill at some workshop you attended last year.
I‘m a sales manager for ABC, you start off.
With seconds left, you explain more: ABC has/offers/can do X and Y and Z and… you go on until your 30 seconds are up, or their eyes glaze over.
Stop. Now. Be smart!
Do you really think they want to know what you do? They want to know how they can relate to you. (Think of the Twitter question: What’s Happening? Do tweet peeps want to know exactly that? No! They want to know what’s happening that they’ll find interesting, helpful, useful!)
An elevator speech was so named because it was everything you could talk about before the elevator reached the other person’s floor. The (outdated) thinking was that you may have only one shot so spew it all out. Instead think of your response not as a data dump but as a conversation starter.
This approach works:
1. As soon as someone asks you a question about yourself: Thank them. This disarms them. They realize you aren’t launching into a memorized speech.
3. Next, engage them by asking a question they can relate to. Example:
Hi (hand extended). My name is Michael.
Hi Michael, Sue. Sue Hershkowitz-Coore.
Michael: So, what do you do? (By this time, he may have forgotten my name.)
Me: Thanks for asking! You know how companies are always looking for ways to keep their sales people motivated and focused on selling?
Me: That’s what I do.
Michael: Really. Tell me more. (Or maybe, Huh [thoughtfully]. We just had someone come in to work with our team and…)
Whatever Michael says next will allow me to continue a customer/prospect/other person-centric conversation. Try it because the elevator is out of order.
Want help with your conversation starter? Respond here. Then, tell me why your best customers use your services or buy your products. I’ll help you figure out your conversation starter so you’ll never lose business again. And when others see what we do, they’ll learn too.