Well-meaning sales managers continue to convince their minions that more than anything else in life they need an elevator speech. Whenever someone asks what they do, they don’t stammer or make something up on the fly. They want everyone on the sales team to regurgitate the same words every time without even thinking about it.

It sounds like a noble objective, an excellent way to achieve message consistency. Perhaps. But it’s also a total waste of time since it runs counter to what selling and marketing are all about. Elevator speeches are about us, while marketing and sales are about the customer. In other words, the elevator speech takes us in the wrong direction.

Who cares about what you and I do? We do! Not our prospects and not our customers. What we need is a “one floor” speech, something that grabs an individual’s or a group’s interest fast. You say, for example, “I help my clients dodge bullets that can put them out of business.” “What does that mean?” the prospect asks. “Let me ask you a question,” you reply. Now, the prospect is talking and you are on your way going in the right direction.

Whether it’s marketing or sales, the goal is to engage people, to spark a conversation that focuses on them.

Graham, of GrahamComm, is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a free monthly eBulletin, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” Reach him at jgraham@grahamcomm.com, (617) 774-9759 or johnrgraham.com.

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