The enhanced role of the elevator speech

Every salesperson worth his quarterly bonus has an elevator speech in his head. These persuasive two-minute presentations are most handy when you surreptitiously find yourself one-on-one with a VIP prospect who never would have invited you into his office to make a full presentation.

The elevator speech has been around for decades, but sales trainer Terri L. Sjodin says smart sales managers are expanding its role and the vision among sales team members of what a strong elevator speech can accomplish.

“In competitive markets, none of us is entitled to anyone’s time and attention. That means you must get serious about earning the right to be heard and making your three minutes count,” she states in her new book, “Small Message, Big Impact.”

“The elevator speech is such a simple concept, and yet so many people get it wrong. It’s hard to say what you want to say in a few words. You have to self-edit.”

Sjodin actually recommends that managers work with individual sales reps to create a collection of targeted elevator pitches for different occasions. Reps can use them individually or combine several to build a longer presentation when given more time.

According to Sjodin, the best elevator speeches meet three important benchmarks:

  • Case – They build solid, persuasive cases, employing clean, logical arguments and evidence to support the messages.
  • Creativity – They have blended, thoughtful analysis and storyboarding.
  • Delivery – Messages are presented in authentic voices, not boring professional mode.

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