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Building Your 30-Second Elevator Speech

Written by on Thursday, 13 June 2013 7:00 pm
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We need to be able to convey what we do and what we offer beyond our job title, company name, and the services we sell. Too many salespeople, including real estate agents, describe themselves in terms of their job title and products.

"I'm Bob Smith, salesperson with ACME Real Estate. We sell houses."

That's similar to what most salespeople say early on with a prospect. That's how they identify themselves in sales calls or sales appointments.

You must be more memorable than that. The term 30-second elevator speech is an age-old jargon in the sales profession that is used to describe your explanation of what you or your company does. In today's marketplace, I don't believe you are granted even 30 seconds anymore to explain what you do to most prospects.

Let me demonstrate how challenged we are at describing what we do. You are at a cocktail party. You are talking to a well-dressed gentleman and are having a wonderful conversation. He asks you who you work for and what you do. Stop right here and take a moment to write out your response.

Most telephone salespeople, including my own until I train them how to respond, are challenged to even write anything. For the vast majority of salespeople, this is an excruciating exercise that contains great pain. Only through vast amounts of time, significant thought, and considerable editing do they arrive at an appropriate and professional response.

Part of building a good elevator speech or elevator statement is cogently conveying what you do. What you sell is not enough. For some salespeople, the prospect doesn't know anything about what you sell, doesn't want to know until they care, has never had a real estate experience in the past, and doesn't expect to sell or buy in the near future. All this is true unless they know the benefits, advantages, or opportunities that are presented.

At Real Estate Champions, one of the primary services we sell is coaching. Trust me; no one wakes up in the morning wanting to buy coaching. They do want the benefits we provide through coaching, though. These include more time off, higher sales, more income, higher repeat and referral business, and more prestige because they are the leading salesperson in the firm. We provide and sell these benefits, not coaching. What are you providing and selling?

Whether you are a salesperson, account executive, vice president of sales, sales consultant, telemarketer, REALTOR®, certified financial planner, or any other job title, that merely describes your job title inside the individual company you work for now. It doesn't describe who you are or what you do. By describing what you do for your clients and prospects, you can more professionally express who you are and what they can expect to receive from you. A copier salesperson could describe their job as a document specialist who creates efficiencies and cost savings for companies through proper utilization of office equipment. A long-distance salesperson is a communication specialist who increases and enhances performance of companies through advanced communication technology. A real estate agent guides buyers and sellers in their real estate decisions, represents their interests with knowledge and understanding of the marketplace, gains their clients an advantage in negotiation, saving them money in the short and long run.

One of the best words to use in describing your company or yourself is specialized or specialist. The value of using these words is two-fold. It positions you as the expert immediately. People want to work with the best or someone who specializes in something. It also intrinsically implies that you are more experienced in this type of problem or challenge than others. It conveys that you have encountered these situations before and are well versed. Ultimately, it shows that the risk is lower of the prospect when working with you rather than others who might be considered.

The second benefit of using the term specialist is it tends to focus you as a salesperson. Too frequently, as salespeople, we want to be all things to all people to increase our odds of making a sale. That's our faulty thinking at best. The most effective selling strategy is to focus on our area of expertise: what our company provides best, what we are known for in the industry. What are the core competencies, core focus, or core components of your company's products or services? Sell your strengths in your specialty statements first.

If you have a prospect who doesn't want or need your service, you can cross sell to another product or service. If you manage to make a sale, you are selling your best first, which opens the relationship to other products and services in the future.

By using dialogue that denotes an area of specialization, you condense your elevator speech to the best offer and delivery. You aren't saying we are good at windshield repair, chicken plucking, and industrial adhesives. You must focus on your message, which, for most salespeople, is a very good thing.

Your elevator speech must set you apart. It must not be just centered on your job title, company, and products or services. Let me give you a few hints to help you perfect it and take it to the next level to make it memorable.

  • Review collected material

    Read and review all of your company's brochures. This is true from the large company brochures that talk about the whole company to individual product brochures for different branches within the company. Examine all of the marketing pieces, letters, websites, brochures, articles about the company, outlines, corporate sales memos, and annual reports. Ask yourself these questions:

    1. What do we specialize in?
    2. What are the top ten statements in these pieces?
    3. Which of these pieces clearly describes what we do?

  • Put on customer-colored glasses

    Our job is to see through the eyes of the customer or prospect. Too many companies build brochures and marketing pieces to stroke their ego. We must describe the company and our services in a manner that is meaningful to the prospect. The quintessential question is: What must the prospect hear to understand what we do and the benefits he will receive?

  • Tackle it in the next sales meeting

    Get all of your sales colleagues in the company to respond to "what the company does" questions. Give the groups a short time limit to craft the message. Less than two minutes is preferable. You want their honest, "gut" reaction to that question. The reason is because that is probably what they are using on a sales call currently.

    Then review the statements together. I find it best to write them for all to see on a white board. If you want to avoid embarrassing anyone, have all of the salespeople hand them in to one person who will write them on the board. Let me caution you because you will be very surprised and not pleasantly. The responses or answers will be all over the map. There will be little consistency. It's almost as if you all work for different companies selling different services.

    Create the best couple by selecting ones on the board or combining multiple statements. Then role play the statements to further test the elevator speeches. Ask yourself:

    1. Does it sound right?
    2. Is it compelling enough?
    3. Does it accurately describe what we do?
    4. Is it too long?

    Spend the time to edit it, practice it, and play with it until the delivery is comfortable. Another option would be calling your best clients and testing it on them. Ask them for a favor and tell them that you want honest feedback on your elevator speech. Ask them the same questions from the above section.

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      About the author, Dirk Zeller

    Individual news stories are based upon the opinions of the writer and does not reflect the opinion of Realty Times.