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I Hate Elevator Speeches

August 30, 2012

I was at another typical Networking event in the Valley last week, and got to thinking how much I hate elevator speeches.  Don’t you?  Even though I have trained and taught other people to do Elevator Speeches, I dislike doing them myself.

Why do I hate them?  It is usually canned, and does not take into account the person or group you are speaking too.   I always want to listen first and be able to ask questions before talking about myself and my business.  Like advertising, elevator speeches take on the characteristics of a one way conversation.  The new wave of Social Media has shown how important two-way conversations are, yet we continue this tradition of elevator speeches.

Standing in front of a group giving an elevator speech is different from speaking 1:1.  At most networking events you are NOT trying to sell, but look for people who will possibly refer you.  Yet, if you are like most people, your elevator speech focuses on the end client, and not how you can help possible referral partners.

Try this?  Start with one sentence describing your business and WHY you do it.  I emphasize the WHY and not what and how, because it brings out the passion, direction, and your targets.  Then ask TWO compelling questions which make the group think.  One question will be about situation, and the other about a common problem, opportunity, challenge, or fear .  Then tell them how you can help a referral partner, and an end client.  You want to emphasize how you will make your referral look good.  Or, how many people you can possibly refer them too.

If you are doing a 1:1 conversation, there are some basic rules to follow:

  1.  Try and get the other person to speak first and look for the commonalities.
  2. Ask at least three questions of them to see if there is a fit for you.  Examples:
    1. Tell me more about ……….. I found that interesting.
    2. Could you elaborate more on …………………………
    3. Could you please describe to me more about your ideal customer or target market?
    4. Summarize, by saying if I understand you correctly ……………………….
    5. From what you said, here is how I think we can possibly do something of mutual benefit ………….. How would you like to proceed?

Would love to get some comments on this blog, and if you feel the same.  Thanks.  And remember, sales is not a dirty word, just a higher level of communication.









6 Comments leave one →
  1. Marina Rudolph permalink
    August 30, 2012 1:38 pm

    Hi Allan,
    Great blog post. Yes, I’m guilty of training the elevator speech too and agree a flowing conversation is much more effective!

    • August 30, 2012 1:42 pm

      Thanks Marina. The next question is what can we do to improve the interaction, especially at a group networking meeting.

  2. October 10, 2012 2:35 pm

    Sage advice, Allan. It’s rare when anyone says anything that doesn’t sound like “blah, blah, blah” … employing your strategy would break people’s preoccupation worrying about what they are going to say and would certainly attract interest.

    • October 10, 2012 6:00 pm

      Thanks Bill. It seems like I struck a nerve. Our of all my newsletters, this one got the fastest and strongest response.

  3. November 7, 2012 4:41 pm

    Networking is about getting to know other people and the way you get to know other people is by asking them questions. I am not trying to get them to know me at a networking event I want to learn as much about them as possible and make that social connect. I follow up and call them after a social event and ask to meet with them or ask for an introduction etc and I have found that to be much more effective for me. I believe the elevator speech is actually more effective in a one on one face to face meeting as a way to get your prospect to talk about them and about how they do things etc. The more they talk and the less I talk the more I win.

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