Michael Port, author of “Book Yourself Solid,” helps professionals learn how to sell their services. Port is on a mission to kill the elevator speech.
(If you don’t know what an elevator speech is, here’s an article from 2007, the heyday of the elevator speech.)
Port says he’s been polling audiences for years on the issue of elevator speeches. He asks audiences: “How many of you love, love, love listening to someone else’s elevator speech?” No hands go up. Then he asks, “How many of you love, love, love giving your elevator speech?” Same thing. No hands.
“If we don’t like listening to or giving the speech, why is it still being taught?” Port asks. “Because, of course, we need to be able to talk about what we do — I get the concept. However, in this case, the elevator speech has been inappropriately appropriated by the service professional. The elevator speech does not help sell professional services.”
Port says the elevator speech was designed for the entrepreneur to pitch an idea to a venture capitalist, not for the service professional trying to build a relationship of trust with a potential client.
He says venture capitalists often judge the quality of an idea on the basis of the quality of its elevator pitch. But this is not how a relationship develops between a client and a service professional. You’re trying to earn the status of a trusted adviser, not trying to raise money to create a new product.
In its place, Port proposes real conversation, and he says you should be able to talk about these issues:
1. Your target market.
2. The three biggest problems your target market faces.
3. Your target market’s three most tangible desires.
4. The number-one result you help your clients achieve.
5. The benefits your clients experience as a result of your services.
“If you’re prepared with these five elements, you have the required ingredients for talking about what you do,” he says.