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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: name, rescue statement, and hook question. Nobody who deals directly with prospective or actual 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, to compel a stranger on an elevator to ask for your business card before you step off the elevator, you must empathetically state three discomforts or sore points that you can alleviate.

be prepared

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

state the top motivation to buy

This is also why it is important to set aside 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 or to make a referral 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. Describe real pain with factual, respectful empathy. 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 available money 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 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. One example of what overpowers 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: 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, stated with empathy and respect, the straight and unexpected truth works.

break the ‘negativity’ taboo

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


- Glenn R Harrington, Articulate Consultants Inc.


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