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Elevator speech dos and don’ts

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There are multitudes of ways to answer the question “What do you do?” And your answer has the power to attract or repel potential clients. So, what’s the best way to answer this all-important question? Below are two different elevator speeches I’ve seen salespeople use: One method works, while the other does not.

How to repel prospects: The Impresser. The Impresser wants to set himself apart from — make that above — others. His elevator speech sounds something like this:

“I work only with the best companies in the industry. Elite Enterprises and SNOB are my biggest customers. I work closely with their CEO, Crystal Prada-Gucci — I’m sure you’ve heard of her. We handle their COQs financial systems, specifically the vertical leveraging of their micro-funded core competencies in the intergalactic commercial markets.”

Impressed? You should be, because the Impresser goes to great lengths to ensure you understand just how important he is. Highfalutin words and industry-specific acronyms fill his speech. Also, you’ll hear lots of name dropping. Well-known people and top-notch companies are part of his repertoire.

The trouble with the Impresser’s elevator speech is that it’s off-putting. Most people don’t like the Impresser’s claim to intellectual superiority or elitism. They’re intimidated by big words and jargon and will hesitate to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. If you’re hoping to garner a new client from your elevator speech, avoid the mistakes made by the Impresser.

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How to entice prospects: The Attractor. The Attractor’s elevator speech is magnetic because it’s focused on prospects’ needs, issues and concerns. The Attractor is not interested in aggrandizing himself but rather focuses on how he can help other people.

Here are a few examples of how the Attractor answers the “What do you do?” question:

  • “I work with people who are struggling to sell their products or services to large corporate buyers.”
  • “I help small businesses win contracts with large corporate customers.”
  • “I help technology companies launch important new products into the market and improve their time-to-profitability ratio.”

Each of these brief, prospect-focused responses invites further inquiry into the Attractor’s offerings. None of them makes the prospect feel small or unworthy of the Attractor’s interest. (And, for me personally, each one of these responses has led to new business.)

Adopt this approach the next time you’re presented with that oh-so-important question from a potential client, and see who you can attract.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.