This topic is a bit like the vision topic. The end result is very small (unless you have a very slow or very high elevator). We call it the elevator speech, but it is for every time you meet someone but have little time to make an impression. Most people waffle - but with some planning, every opportunity can be maximised.


The end result has to be brief; it has to encapsulate why you're in business; and is has to lead people who could benefit from your products or service to taking this brief contact further. Say the right thing and start a relationship. Say the wrong thing and you're history.


There are three essentials:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • How you offer value


It has to fit the situation - a cold call needs to be shorter, while a face to face discussion with someone happy to listen can be longer. You might even reduce it to a phrase that can go on cards, stationery, etc. The key is it has to be brief - and make people want to know more. An elevator speech is NOT a sales pitch. Nor is it a description, nor a promotion.


Don't sell a "product" - sell the benefit. It's not about who you are but what you can give. Don't offer them something; then they can't say "No thanks". Asking questions and learning about them  (even in 10-20 seconds) is far more important than your best sales pitch.


There are four pieces of information in an elevator speech:

  • Product or service
  • Market or customers
  • Benefits
  • Competitive advantage


The first is probably a passion of yours - but do not go into detail. At this stage, it's probably the least important of the four.


Describing your market or customers should be brief - but as wide as possible at this stage. While we all want class A customers, the reality for most of us is a wider mix - at least until we refine our market more.


The benefits of your product or service are crucial - how does it help your clients. Don't do this alone - ask trusted clients, and brainstorm with your team (formal and informal).


Last is your competitive advantage. If you've developed a marketing strategy, you should already have identified your unique core differentiators (UCDs), Asking clients for their assessment can be useful.


There are some important don'ts. Don't be vague. Don't resort to catchy phrases. Don't use advertising language. Don't use jargon.


It must be memorable, simple and informative (not promotional).


In summary - What you do, followed by the main part - the benefits. e.g. I customise IT systems to improve productivity and customer service.


As with anything else you do in business, you may look back on your first attempt and wonder how you got this far. The same is true of learning another language, being married and any other aspect of life. Practice does build confidence. Write it down, see how it sounds, try it with others. check out reactions and make modifications.


Have a longer version ready (e.g. for networking events) and always focus on the relationship - not the sale.


Finish with a call to action - request a business card or email address, schedule a full presentation, etc.


Deliver with passion, sincerity and pride.


It's the first step to sound relationships, great for word-of-mouth marketing, a feature for marketing materials and a way to establish your business identity.