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In A Compelling Elevator Speech,

Say Why People Buy From You


When account managers, customer service reps, brokers, and others in sales find out that they must briefly describe three problems that they solve in emotional terms, they often resist. Some refuse. The other ingredients in the recipe for a compelling elevator speech are: name, rescue statement, and hook question. Nobody who deals directly with clients or customers seems to have a problem with these.

Compel action in 30 seconds.

Still, to answer the question, “What you do?” in 30 seconds or fewer and compel the listener to ask for your business card, pain is necessary. That is, you must state three discomforts or sore points that you resolve to compel a stranger on an elevator to ask for your business card before you step off the elevator.

Be prepared.

Of course, an elevator speech is not just given on an elevator. Nor is it not only shared with strangers or people who ask, “What do you do?” This is why it is important to develop a compelling elevator speech and to recognize opportunities to use it adaptively in various situations.

State the top motivation to buy.

This is also why it is important to transcend the objection that describing the problems you solve in emotional terms involves the taboo of "being negative." In truth, the top motivator for people to buy from you or to make a referral to you is that they want to relieve some kind of pain now.

Say what hurts.

Sales guru David Sandler ranks pain in the present as the top motivator for people to buy. When it hurts now, there is budget and the will to pay for a solution.

red ribbon

The number two reason to buy: pain in the future. When it is going to hurt tomorrow if you do not do something about it today, then the will and the ability to pay can be strong.

yellow ribbon

In third place for what gets people to buy is pleasure now. A promise of fun, enjoyment, comfort, or amusement now can get people to open their wallets. Still, this is not as powerful as relieving worry, anger, confusion, aggravation, frustration, stress, or restlessness now or in the future.

green ribbon

In fourth place for what motivates people to buy is pleasure in the future. Expectation of future enjoyment is indeed powerful. A nice vacation, a beautiful wedding, a splendid home, a secure retirement: People save their money for these with hope in their hearts. Even so, savings for these can suddenly become money available when something hurts badly now or is expected to get worse without preventive or corrective action soon.

arousing interest: fifth place

Contrary to the beliefs of many ad copy writers, arousal of interest or curiosity comes in fifth for what gets people to buy. Some ads tell stories like, “My friends thought I was crazy until I told them how great this is!” Such ads appeal to the fifth-ranked motivator for people to buy.

positivity not always best

A top problem for many in describing what they do lies in their insistence on addressing one of the bottom three reasons why people do business with them. They want to smile and be positive. They want to express infectious enthusiasm for the wonderful goods or services that they represent. An example of what trumps this: “People come to me worried about their career.”

The unexpected works.

A top reason why many of the same people oppose following the formula for a compelling elevator speech is that they consider it improper to talk about their customers having "negative" feelings. This is particularly true when they’re asked “What do you do?” This is why the straight and unexpected truth works.

Break the ‘negativity’ taboo.

Though counter-intuitive for many, a compelling elevator pitch is really this simple: When you give your name, identify in emotional terms three problems that you solve (why people buy from you), state that you solve such problems, and ask if any of this is worth discussing, then you answer the question meaningfully. These are the steps in a compelling elevator speech. Do this well and people will ask you for your card.

what works

This is how to tell people what you do in a way that anybody could comprehend in terms of relevance to themselves and to those close to them. Customize the three pains to your understanding of the person who asks. They just might ask you another question: “May I have your business card?” That is when an elevator speech compels action.


- Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


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