We are all taught that an elevator speech is a crucial sales practice. A well-crafted elevator speech will concisely communicate (1) who you are, (2) what you are looking for, (3) the benefit you provide, and (4) do it within 30 seconds.

The two biggest challenges I have with this old approach are that it is all about you, and 30 seconds is a long time to listen if what you are saying is not relevant to me. Recognize an elevator speech is an icebreaker, a qualifier, not an invitation to pitch.

My approach is a three-step process that makes it a conversation and filter.

Step One: Tell them who you help and how – in 5 seconds.

As a business coach, I say, “I help business owners have more fun and make more money.”

Then I stop talking.

It is concise, a bit whimsical, and understandable. The next step is on the part of the person to whom I’m speaking. If they move the conversation on, I accept they are not interested. That’s okay. It is the expected response for a cold discussion up to 99% of the time. Qualification is about their need, not what you do. It is a waste of expensive time (yours and theirs) trying to get them interested if they are not.

But if they do say, “tell me more about that,” and only if they ask, then move to step two.

Step Two: Present the problem and the logical solution. Not your specific solution yet… that’s the next step, and they have not earned that yet.

My step two phrase is, “The single biggest issue businesses face is when the needs of the owner and the needs of the business are out of alignment, resulting in a passive-aggressive environment, obstructed performance, and weak results. I help the business get back in alignment.”

10 to 15 seconds. Then I stop talking again.

At this point, I’ve communicated the problem and solution. I have not yet told the person I’m speaking to what I do or how I do it. We have come to the point of agreement or disagreement with this statement. As with step one, a very high percentage of people will not care enough to inquire further, but that is the filter I want, and we will move the conversation on to a topic of mutual interest. But if they ask again, I know I am now speaking to a qualified prospect.

Step Three: Evaluate with them whether my specific solution is a great fit for their issue. I ask them to explain their problem the way they see it, why they believe a lack of alignment between the needs of the owner and business might be the source of the issue, and what alignment can do.

For the next 10 to 15 minutes, I listen deeply. And mirror their words to understand. If we seem like a good fit, I invite them to schedule a one-hour discussion for a later time to explore more deeply one to one. If I’m not a good fit, I dip into my network to find 2 or 3 businesses to recommend to them.

Here are a couple more notable things about this approach.

First, if I get to step three and I’m a good fit, I know I will get the one-hour call with them 80% or more of the time. And I close a high percentage of those with whom I get the call because I’m only “selling” to a highly qualified prospect. There is no more incredible or more expensive waste of time than trying to pitch unqualified prospects, and much of the time, it only gives them a negative perception of you.

Second, because my step one introduction is short and straightforward, it is also easy to remember. Due to this, I receive referrals from parties who are uninterested in what I do for themselves. As they meet others at the event where we’ve met, and they hear someone complain about a business issue while they network, it opens the door for them to say, “I don’t know what this guy does, but it sounds like he might help you” and point me out. It happens. Not often, but it does—another marketing win for me.

If you like this approach and want some help creating your own three-step elevator speech, let’s schedule a time to talk.



“If you can’t explain it simply,
you don’t understand it well enough.”

– Albert Einstein


Leave a Comment