In every book on selling and marketing there is a section on your ”Positioning statement” or your “Elevator talk”. In several seminars I’ve attended the speaker takes us through an exercise… and we all give our “Elevator talk”. It begins with you asking someone what they do for a living, and they tell you. Then they are asked what you do for a living. Big Mistake! Because they might hear something someone learned at one of these seminars. They all sound something like this; Someone says, “What do you do for a living?” “I help companies maximize revenue share while accentuating efficiency in multiple departments by vertical integration”. I’m not joking, they almost all sound like that. They all sound like something you would never say in a real conversation. After you try your new “Elevator talk” a few times, and people look at you like you are crazy, you stop using it.
When I hear speakers talk about these long convoluted “elevator talks”, I promise you this… they aren’t using it themselves. They got it out of a book that was written by someone who also didn’t use it themselves. When someone asks what you do, do not say; “I work for a major conglomerate that lowers your fuel bills, while providing world class service”. It’s better, but it still doesn’t sound like anything a human being would say. And it tells the person nothing about what you offer. Don’t say, “I’m working for a wonderful company that makes wonderful products that will cure whatever ails you. And you can put it on your credit card”. See? No human being would talk like that. Although I’ve heard worse at some of these “Create your elevator talk” seminars. Don’t say, “I am the chief marketing account executive at a major conglomerate, that builds private equity for discerning investors” If you say that, and the person says “Huh?”, that’s not a good response.
When someone ask you what you do, they want to hear you say; “Doctor, pizza delivery guy, construction worker, police officer, hotel manager”.. that sort of thing. If you go on and on, trying to be impressive, it’s falling on deaf ears. You just want to say a benefit that you deliver. Make it quick. Then give a qualification that makes you sound selective. It must sound like you are very matter of fact. There can be no enthusiasm, no selling. I say it like I would say, “Would you pass the salt?”
Here’s mine. Someone says, “What do you do?” “I create quality leads and sales for businesses, that already have a website”. And then I shut up. They either say, “That’s nice” or they ask, “How do you do that?” If the later, I say “Do you own a business that people can find online?” (Yes)
“Do you ever have customers tell you that they found you online?” (Yes) “Would you like more of them?” (Yeah, I sure would) “Well, I’m not sure we’re a perfect match, but we can find out in a few minutes. Do you have a card?”….. and we get off the elevator. Am I telling you that I’ve said exactly that, on an elevator, and they went on to be a client? Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. And I say the same thing at trade shows, community meetings, and business mixers.
At no time, if they don’t ask you, “how do you do that?” or, “how does that work?” do you ask to talk further. You either just stop talking, or change the subject. For example; ‘” What do you do for a living?” “I create quality leads and sales for businesses that already have a website. What time is it?”
I want them to say, “Wait. Why do they need a website to talk to you?” or, “How do you get them sales?”. I want them to chase me a little. Years ago, when I was selling vacuum cleaners in people’s homes I would get asked, “What do you do?” For several years, I would just say, “I’m in sales”. But that didn’t tell them anything. Eventually, I decided to start saying, “I sell quality vacuum cleaners, by appointment only”. And usually, they would say, “That’s nice, do you know what time it is?”. But about once every 100 times, I told that to someone, they would say, “Really? We’re looking for a good vacuum cleaner. Tell me about yours”. And I’ve sold maybe a dozen expensive vacuums every year just by changing how I answer, “What do you do for a living?”