The “elevator speech” seems to be a bit of a mystery to many in the concrete industry and can be quite unnerving. However, by tackling this mysterious concept and developing the right speech for your company, you’ll eliminate the cumbersome and clunky initial sales process.
The phrase “elevator speech” is best explained by asking what can you tell a complete stranger about your company in the time it takes to ride an elevator from one floor to another -- the length of attention span we typically afford a new acquaintance. Simply, an elevator speech is a short description – roughly 15 to 30 seconds -- of what you do or what your company does. This sound bite should succinctly and memorably introduce you.
But, beyond simply telling someone what you do, an elevator speech should relate to your audience in a meaningful way. Although it is easy to tell someone you are a concrete producer, for example, sharing your particular market niche is bit more difficult when put on the spot. A good elevator speech should explain the real benefit of the services you provide and how you differ from your competition. In other words, how are you a solution provider and how does that relate to the person you are talking to?
For example, are you a concrete contractor that has developed a unique expertise in meeting the needs of owners seeking fast-track solutions? Or, have you supplied concrete for more schools than any of your competitors in the last year? By finding the right words, you can engage your audience in your business while also showing your expertise.
Developing your speech
To develop your elevator speech, you must first identify how your products and services benefit your customers and the marketplace. Don’t feel pressured, however, to tell the whole story. Some of the best elevator speeches provide a snapshot of your business but leave the listener begging for more information. Be careful not to ramble as that is the quickest way to turn off a new acquaintance.
After writing down your differentiator and what it means to others, practice it. Out loud. Often. And then do it again. Practice will also help you determine if the words you have selected actually work. The words may look good on paper, but they can sound canned, trite, or just plain ridiculous when spoken. This is often the case when firms try to memorize their vision statement or tagline and regurgitate the words with little or no connection to the person they are talking to. If that’s the case, the elevator speech will not be adopted by your team. Your elevator speech should be something that comes from your heart, makes sense, is easy to remember, and rolls off the tongue easily.
How to gauge success
How do you know if you are successful? Simply by knowing how the conversation went after your speech? Did your introduction result in further conversation and questions about your unique selling proposition and industry niche? Do you feel like you engaged your audience and found a way to relate to them? Remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. A great elevator speech allows you to position your company as one that has a clear vision and passion about what you do – attributes we all enjoy seeing in others.
This was originally published in Concrete Construction magazine.