Friday, 20 September 2013

Going Up! The Selling Starts With a Powerful Elevator Speech

How to creating a branded elevator speech.

Eight Tips for Creating an Elevator Speech that Works

Written by Robyn T. Braley

The other day I was asked the question, “What’s an elevator speech?” The answer is, it’s probably not what you think it is.

It’s certainly not a spontaneous speech given by a political candidate in an elevator packed with victims praying earnestly that the door will open at the next floor. Make that any floor. 

Neither is it a motivational speech designed to “lift” the sales team to new heights of peak performance. 

Nor is it the speech given by the town mayor just before the abandoned prairie grain elevator is blown to smithereens leaving atomic sized clouds of choking dust.   

Starting the Process
An elevator speech is meant to start a conversation about your business that may lead to a professional relationship with people you want or need to know. In my ‘Bootstrapping With Broken Laces’ seminar I explain it this way.

You are in the lobby of a tall building when you spot a prospective client that you have been trying to contact for months waiting for an elevator. Your efforts have been futile because their executive assistant is an all-star gate keeper. You realize you have been given a gift and that this may be your only chance to make an introduction.

You follow them into the elevator being careful not to appear creepy. Pleasantries are exchanged between the ground and 2nd floor. Between the 2nd and 4th floor you skillfully bob and weave as you deliver your speech, ask probing questions, listen to their answers and then earn the right to take the next step.

The goal is to “close the deal” between the 5th and 6th floors. That usually means exchanging business cards, committing to send more information or scheduling a meeting. On rare – make that very rare - situations it could actually mean, “closing the deal.”

Less Is More
The challenge is to use the fewest number of words possible. If your speech is really well crafted, it will qualify your organization’s ability to meet client needs while hinting at the benefits you offer.

I’ve used my speech during telephone cold calls, in emails, at business receptions, social events, funerals, weddings, conferences, concerts, in church foyers or during Rotary luncheons. And yes, even in elevators.

It took time to develop a speech for our agency that rolled off my tongue and didn’t sound rehearsed. Now our entire team uses a personalized version of the same one. It has become part of our brand.

"UniMark Creative focuses on four areas; web design, video production, media (both editorial and advertising), and graphic design. We develop integrated strategies that meet specific needs and produce results for our clients. All key services are provided in house."

The Sale Begins
The "sell" really begins when the prospect begins asking questions like, "Who have you designed websites for? Do you also do social media? Email programs? SEO? Can I view your videos online?"

The greatest discipline required at this point is listening. Answer with short sentences without prattling on. Give them spaces so they can  ask more questions.  

Always keep 2-3 key client names representing different industries ready to share if a referral is needed. In some relationship driven industries, who you have worked for is as important as your ability to do the work. 

Make it Live
Your elevator speech will be a living, breathing thing. Edit, polish, slash and brutally cut. 

Our agency provides way more services than the four mentioned. However, web design, video production, media services and graphic design are hot words that are recognized by most business leaders and are easily remembered.

After you’ve written your speech – and note the word written - put copies on your desk, in your car and in your bathroom. Practice saying it out loud. Role play it. Street test it. When you say it the first time or two, it will probably feel clumsy. Go back, revisit and re-edit.

Now, follow your prospect into the elevator remembering not to appear creepy. Press the close door button and enjoy the ride.

Eight Tips for Crafting a Powerful Elevator Speech
1. Define what makes you unique?
2. Identify hot words that resonate in the market you’re selling into.
3. Craft three to four short sentences. Cut the fat.
4. Research powerful action words that apply to what you do.
5. Identify a key benefit you offer.
6. Inject energy, enthusiasm and passion.
7. Be proud – not in a bragging but a confident way.
8. Smile, be warm and engaging. Be a person the prospect would like to learn more about.

Robyn T. Braley is a brand specialist, writer and speaker. He is the President of UniMark Creative which focuses on website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. Contact him at or

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