In today’s fast-paced world, the average person is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages from multiple mediums every single day.

Advertising is everywhere – television, radio, road signs, email, banner ads, direct mail, clothing, pens, newspapers and magazines. These pervasive, and often intrusive methods of capturing attention have created a backlash; most people don’t even notice them anymore.

To break through all this marketing clutter, it’s imperative to have an enticing elevator speech that speaks directly to the needs of your customers. And, it has to roll off your tongue easily, naturally and conversationally. Many people intuitively know this, but still struggle with how to respond.

If you’re unsure about the quality of your elevator speech or want to improve it, here’s what you’ll learn in this article:
1. The most common responses to “What do you do?” and why they’re ineffective.
2. How to develop a compelling elevator speech that attracts prospective customers.
3. How to fine-tune the delivery of your elevator speech.
4. Different ways to use your elevator speech to market your product or service.

Developing a clear and compelling elevator speech helps you attract more of your ideal
customers and gives you enhanced clarity about the work you do. Plus, if you repeat it often enough, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll become even more of what you want to be.

Classic Elevator Speeches

Let’s take a look at the classic elevator speeches people give to the “What do you do?” question. This will help you understand why you may not be attracting as many customers as you’d like.

Identity uncertain

The Minimiser

Most people are Minimisers. They position themselves by either their title or by their products/services. Minimisers’ elevator speeches are brief and factual. Knowing their elevator speech needs to be short, they give the most concise response possible. They really dislike “puffery” and bragging too.
Here are some common Minimiser responses to the big question:
● “I sell software.”
● “I’m a consultant.”
● “I’m a mortgage broker.”
● “I’m self-employed.”
What’s wrong with the Minimiser’s elevator speech? When you lead with your title, most people immediately assume they know what you do. As a consequence, they’re typically not too interested in learning more. Plus, many jobs have really negative connotations.

For example, you wouldn’t believe how many people DON’T like consultants. It doesn’t matter if I’m the best in the world, charge reasonable rates and consistently deliver extraordinary results. At least 50% of people think consultants are overpaid for what they do or that they’re laid-off employees trying to earn some quick money while they look for another position.

Perception is everything. It doesn’t matter if what people think is true or not – they still believe it.

And if that’s the case, the last thing you want to do in your elevator speech is turn off half the people out there. When you position yourself by the products or services you sell, you immediately put yourself into the same category as your competitors. How many other web designers are there? How about printing salespeople? Marketing communications companies? IT specialists?

Placing yourself in the same category as your biggest competitors makes you a commodity. If someone needs what you do, they immediately want to know how much you charge or what your price is. No matter what you say, you’re in trouble! Buyers automatically compare your price tag to other suppliers – even though they don’t know why you may be a better value, more productive or more capable.

The Rambler

Much as I dearly love most Ramblers, they do drive me (and most everyone else) crazy. As you can imagine, Ramblers babble on-and-on, seemingly unaware of their affect on prospective buyers.

Based on my observations, there are two types of Ramblers.

Floundering-For-My-Niche Ramblers
These Ramblers lack a clear target market and value proposition. In response to the “What do you do?” question, their elevator speech usually sounds like this:
“I do a lot of things. I’ve done lots of sales training in the past. But lately lots of my customers have been asking me to do facilitation. I’m really good at helping companies launch new products.
“Sometimes I write their marketing copy; sometimes I do PR. It really doesn’t matter. I like doing both – and I’m good at both. I’m doing this neat project right now for a client – it’s mapping the various futures for their markets so I’m into strategy development too.”
The floundering Ramblers share everything they can do – hoping that something they say piques your interest. They don’t want to close down any opportunity to generate revenue. Unfortunately, their elevator speech has just the opposite affect. People much prefer to work with specialists. Also, what these Ramblers don’t know is that their elevator speech projects a sense of desperation and ‘lost-ness’ that’s unattractive to most all buyers.

Rambler

I-Love-My-Subject Ramblers
Ask these Ramblers what they do and you’ll wish you never had. Typically they’re highly involved with their products or processes –and really love them. When they start talking, they don’t want to stop.

Here’s how their elevator speech might sound:
“We do process re-engineering with the various department, divisions, business units and
subsidiaries from organizations as well as the numerous contractors that provide products and services that go into the development of your own branded and unbranded products. We initially start by doing a comprehensive assessment of the multiple groups involved in the process, covering questions such as …”

Boring! While these Ramblers are certainly specialists, they say so much that you don’t know what’s important or relevant in their elevator speech. And the last thing you want to do is ask them another question because they may bore you to tears.

Here’s how their elevator speech might sound:
“We do process re-engineering with the various department, divisions, business units and
subsidiaries from organizations as well as the numerous contractors that provide products and services that go into the development of your own branded and unbranded products. We initially start by doing a comprehensive assessment of the multiple groups involved in the process, covering questions such as …”

Boring! While these Ramblers are certainly specialists, they say so much that you don’t know what’s important or relevant in their elevator speech. And the last thing you want to do is ask them another question because they may bore you to tears.

The trouble with the Impresser’s elevator speech is that it’s off-putting. Most people don’t like the implications of intellectual superiority or elitism. They’re intimidated by the big words and won’t ask questions that might make them look stupid. Again, another elevator speech that doesn’t deliver results.

Attractor

The Attractor

The Attractor’s elevator speech is magnetic to the right listeners because it’s focused on their needs, issues and concerns. Here are several examples:
● “I work with people who are struggling to sell their products or services into large corporate accounts.”
● “I help small businesses win big contracts with large corporate customers.”
● “I help technology companies who struggle launching important new products into the market and want to improve their time-to-profitability.”

These are some of the different elevator speeches I have used. Each one of them has been successful for me. They all invite and stimulate further discussion – which is exactly what I want!

Publisher’s note:

Part 2 – Attracting More Customers (published June 16) – will help you become an Attractor with an enticing elevator speech that puts you in front of the right people who are most interested in what you offer.

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Jill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales expert who speaks frequently at conferences and sales kick-off meetings. She’s also the bestselling author of four books: Selling to Big Companies, SNAP Selling, Agile Selling, and More Sales Less Time. With over 1/3 million followers on LinkedIn, Jill has twice been named their #1 Business-to-Business Sales Expert. Jill’s career has been defined by her relentless search for fresh strategies that actually work in an ever-changing business environment. She’s an award-winning seller and sales leader. As a consultant, Jill’s clients include IBM, Oracle, E&Y, GE, 3M, Medtronic and numerous mid-market firms. Today she serves as an advisor to growing SaaS companies. Because Jill is one the front edge of what it takes to be successful today, her strategies have been featured in Forbes, Fortune, WSJ, New York Times, ABC News and Fox. In 2012, she was inducted into the Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame.