You are an accomplished business owner; a compelling person. And, you probably even have the propensity to get giddy at times talking about what you do. But, do you love, love, love the idea of giving an elevator speech? You know: that 30-second commercial that tells someone what you do for a living? How about being on the receiving end of one? Didn't think so.
Whenever I'm giving a speech to thousands of people in one of those big swanky hotels, I ask these two questions: One, who loves to give your elevator speech? And, two, who loves to listen to someone else's? Hands rarely go up. Well, except for the occasional show-off dude trying to test me and get approval from the crowd. But now, given that all generalities are false, I still think it's pretty safe to say that most people don't like to give or hear elevator speeches. So why on earth is every marketing and sales expert (and book) telling you you've got to have one?
Of course, you absolutely must be able to talk about what you do without sounding confusing or bland or like everyone else. But, the days of the elevator speech must be packed up and sent directly to storage. You know where the concept of the elevator speech comes from, don't you? Pitching venture capital. Sure, from that perspective it makes sense. The idea was this: If you were starting a business and you found yourself on the elevator with Mr. Mucka-Mucka venture capital guy for another five floors, you had better be able to pitch him on your company and why he should give you $10 million in the next 30 seconds. However, if you are a service or sales professional, or even a budding entrepreneur, use the typical elevator speech at your own risk.
Marketing and sales trainers always want you to wow people and knock them off their feet so they throw money at you. That's the premise behind the elevator speech. But that's just silly unless you live and die by hyperbole. It's not how people think, work or behave. And, the best business owners are down-to-earth people who follow the Winston Churchill philosophy that, "It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time."
So, what do you do? Try this radical, revolutionary never-before-heard-of-thing called a conversation. Call me crazy or call me crazy-cool, but these conversations sales and service people are having are all the rage these days. So here's what you do. When you introduce yourself you may touch on a few important points, but only if the conversation organically offers the opportunity, such as:
Point 1: Who you serve (your target market)
Point 2: What they need and desire (problems they have and things they want)
Point 3: What solutions you offer (products and services)
Point 4: The big, bad result they get from your products and services (the money shot)
Point 5: The deep-rooted core benefits they get from that result (financial, emotional, physical or spiritual ROI)
But don't force it! Don't try to manipulate the conversation into an opportunity for you to perform your self-absorbed soliloquy. Certainly you have a clear picture of these five points that make up what I call your Book Yourself Solid Dialogue, but can you comfortably communicate all of them with ease, joy, fluidity and clarity--and without memorizing a script? You've got to. You don't have a choice. These are five essential elements of your commitment to the people you serve. You absolutely must know them to be successful. And, by knowing I mean in the deepest Zen sense of knowing, which is really no-knowing, but that's another story that I'll leave for another day.
Now let the conversations begin. Here's how each of five above points easily flow into cocktail talk.
PARTY GOER: Hello, what do you do Michael?
ME: Thanks for asking. I write business books.
PARTY GOER: No kidding? What kind of books?
ME: Not the boring kind they made you read in school, that's for sure. Although some may disagree (Chuckles all around). You know how many (Point 1) self-employed professionals (Point 2) go out on their own looking for the freedom that working independently promises but they wind up isolated, frustrated and often struggling financially? Do you know people like that?
PARTY GOER: Yes, definitely. That sounds like my sister Jane.
ME: Oh, no kidding. Does Jane (more of Point 2) find herself working far more and earning far less than she thought she would?
PARTY GOER: Yes. I encourage her, but I don't really know how to help. I'm afraid she's going to give up and quit.
ME: Oh, no, no, no--don't let her do that. Listen--she's got to know she's not alone and that there's help out there. In fact, her situation is so common that I (Point 3) teach a marketing and business develop system called Book Yourself Solid in my live seminars and online coaching programs so she can (Point 4) get as many clients as her heart desires.
PARTY GOER: Do you think it could really help her?
ME: Look, there's no magic bullet. It's takes work. But (more of Point 4) 90 percent of the people who have gone through my programs (and actually do the work because there's no luck for the lazy people) increase their revenues by over 40 percent within the first year.
PARTY GOER: Really?! That rocks.
ME: Yes, but it's more than just getting clients and making money--it's got to be. The business owners I serve in my coaching programs are (Point 5) thinking far bigger about who they are and what they offer the world. They are finally free from stressful financial worries and able to passionately share their work with the people they are meant to serve.
PARTY GOER: How can I get my sister in touch with you?
And voila! Just like that, a window opens, allowing me to answer questions, share more and learn more about Jane, what she needs and how I may be able to serve her. And, Party Goer turns out to be the hero. He was out a big gala thinking about his little sister and how to help her. And, as for me--well, I'm just happy that I do have a deep sense of knowing how I serve people and find myself fortunate enough to do exactly that.
Yes, I know this conversation went perfectly because Party Goer lobbed softball questions for me to hit out of the park (I did write it, didn't I?). Of course, every conversation won't go this well but, hey, you create your own reality, don't you?
Now, it's your turn. Write out all five points, call up a friend and practice having a conversation. Radical concept, I know. Then, the next time you are in an elevator you can actually start a conversation or build a relationship instead of feeling like you have to push all the buttons for extra time while you spill your script.