Clarity and simplicity attracts business

By Jim Ruta | March 07 2012 09:32PM

How do I write an “Elevator Speech” that attracts business?
Many elevator speeches have become just audio versions of mission statements. In a misguided attempt to be all-inclusive, many fail to connect and communicate at all. Honestly, most mission statements are 35 to 75 word run-on sentences of currently fashionable buzzwords that nobody understands and that affect no one’s behaviour – least of all the advisor. When your mission statement means nothing, your elevator speech won’t either.

An elevator speech is just the answer to the question – “What do you do?” Trying to be too clever with an elevator speech or attempting to say too much with it can take all the power out of it.
Prospects want you to be honest, direct and simple. That means your elevator speech has to be sensible and compelling. Clarity attracts business. Confusion repels it. Be clear. Elicit a response.

You want people to say, “That’s interesting, how do you do that?” When your answer starts a conversation at their request, you really have something. Then, you can lead them to a more detailed discussion and they are listening because they asked. Confuse them and you’ll likely only get a polite smile and a topic change. You want to engage them instead. This is not always simple and your best answer evolves over time. Work to develop it.

Here are the two approaches to writing an effective elevator speech:

This template comes from “The Art of High Performance” concept. We discovered that “art” means “deliberately arranging elements to produce a particular effect”. So, “The Art of High Performance” is “The process of deliberately arranging ideas, resources and behaviours to consistently influence and maximize results and value”. Use it this way for your speech: “I deliberately arrange (or rearrange) insurance portfolios to maximize their impact and value to families”.

“Deliberate arrangement” suggests professional action. “Maximizing impact and value” is a positive result today and tomorrow. It can also make sense for different advisors. “I deliberately arrange investment portfolios to maximize their impact and value on retirement income” or “I deliberately arrange business insurance portfolios to maximize their impact and value to the business, shareholders and surviving families.” You’ll be more confident, effective and attractive to business.

You can also use the Expert Identity model. It starts with this template: I create ___ (a specific and Needed Benefit) ___ for ___ (an Identifiable Natural Audience) ___. “Create” could also be develop, prepare, preserve, design, or establish. “A Specific and Needed Benefit” might be “lifestyles”, “standards of living” or “legacies”. “An Identifiable Natural Audience” specifies those who need, want and will take your advice best like “families who care”, “prudent professionals” or “everyday people”. You may have to rearrange your Expert Identity to suit but just keep it 5 to 8 words. Simple is best.

Either approach will give you a great, meaningful and brief elevator speech that will help attract a follow up question and then the business you want.

A bad business day can hold me back for a week. How do I keep performing anyway?

Former Toronto Raptors coach Kevin O’Neill once observed that “Losing takes a lot more out of you than winning puts back in.” He was right. You know yourself that you can return to the office with a big success in your briefcase only to find a small failure occurred while you were out. Maybe you made a $10,000 commission and lost a $500 one. Most of us are more depressed by the loss than we are excited by the gain. In professional sports or life insurance sales, the emotional impact of failure is magnified. But success isn’t usually final and failure is rarely fatal. It just seems that way sometimes.

Overall results are more important than just what happens today. Keep performance results in perspective. You can maintain high performance in the face of the challenges everyone experiences. The idea is to adjust your perspective so the emotional impact you experience doesn’t crush your spirit.

First, acknowledge that not even the most successful among us succeeds every time. Thinking that “If I were really meant for this business or knew what I was doing, I would always win” is setting yourself up for failure. Business isn’t like that. The only way to succeed greatly is to risk failure daily.

Manage your expectations. Expecting 100 percent effectiveness will keep you unhappy all the time. I remember saying to prospects. “Mr. Smith, I usually sell one out of three and the last guy just bought. I think you’re safe”. He’d laugh and I’d remind myself of the odds. Remember selling one out of three is excellent in business. A three percent return on direct mail is exceptional. You have to ask about five times to close one sale. That’s life.

Next, mentally disconnect today’s negative result from previous ones. You can’t let the “failure train” get longer so your self-image suffers. As self-image sags, your ability to risk your self esteem plummets with it. Your self-image has to be resilient enough to risk it every day.

Here’s a little trick that applies very well in golf and explains the process. Emotions from bad golf shots used to build up for me. A bad drive on the first hole would carry over to the second.

Trouble on the second would be with me on the third. It snowballed until my anxiety was so high I could barely perform. When I realized that “every shot is a new game”, my game and my life changed.

So, instead of having one golf game in an afternoon, I have many. The first shot is the first game. If it has a bad outcome, that game is over. The second game was how to get the ball out from under that tree and back onto the fairway. The third game was getting the ball on the green, and so on. Disconnecting each shot from the other enables me to maintain better performance emotional balance.

You can do that in business too. Every appointment, phone call or close is a new game. Let each challenge stand on its. Judge your success one challenge at a time.