The Secret to Move from Vendor to Strategic Advisor in Your First Conversation
Developing a 30-second commercial that differentiates you from the competition
"Why not just tell who I am and what I do?” Over the course of your career, you will probably attend more networking events, seminars, conferences, trade shows, and cocktail parties than you can count. You will also reach out to thousands of people via cold calls and social media. If you are like most sales professionals we have met, you have not given much thought regarding how you will introduce yourself when speaking to someone for the first time. If you are like most people, you won’t really think about your message until two seconds after you have started the conversation.
If someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what you did for a living, what would you say? How would you differentiate yourself from your competitors?
Would you begin by talking about when your company or firm was started, or about how you chose your particular career path, or the features and benefits that your company has to offer? Would the commercial grab the attention of the person who you are speaking with, or would it be littered with the same information that someone could find in your brochure or website?
How do you react when someone begins sharing that kind of informa- tion at a party? Does it leave you enthralled? Or does it make you look around the room for someone else who is a better conversationalist?
How many of you have made cold calls and actually connected with a real person, only to have that person tell you that they weren’t interested ten seconds into the conversation? Do your calls sound different from the competition? If you received a sales call from yourself, would you want to continue the conversation?
Here is the real question: how much time and energy have you devoted to preparing your elevator pitch or 30-second commercial?
If you are not prepared to deliver a truly powerful 30-second commercial, you may miss out on your chance to convert a conversation with someone into a new client opportunity. You may also blend in with your competitors rather than stand out from the crowd.
Identifying the Problem
The best way to begin developing your 30-second commercial is to think about the specific problems that you solve for your clients. You need to focus on the WIIFM or the “what’s in it for them” to want to speak with you further. We like to compare a salesperson’s 30-second commercial with a resume. The resume will not secure a job for someone, but the resume will get the potential employer interested enough to call the candidate and conduct an interview. You are not going to close a new deal based on your 30-second commercial, but with a good commercial, you will be able to qualify or disqualify a prospect, and get someone interested in speaking with you for the next five minutes.
What are the challenges your potential clients might encounter? What types of issues could cost them money, opportunities, or open them up to liability? Are your prospects spending a great deal of their time on issues or projects that you could handle, thereby freeing up their time and allowing them to focus on other, more essential issues?
We suggest that when starting a conversation with people at a networking event or social gathering, you ask them to tell you a little about themselves first. Getting the other person to speak first accomplishes several goals. First, it makes the person with whom you are speaking a lot more comfortable, because people like to talk about themselves more than they like to talk about anything else. Second, as they talk about themselves, you can learn a little more about their background, and this will help you to customize your message when you deliver your 30-second commercial.
When discussing the problems that you solve for your potential clients, begin by talking about the big-picture problems that you solve. You want to tap into the emotional part of their brain as you do this. We suggest that you utilize emotional words such as frustrated, upset, or disappointed when discussing the problems you can help your clients to overcome, because these are powerful emotions that are likely to connect to existing problems you can solve.
In addition, you may want to utilize case studies and third party stories. The more vivid the story, the more your prospects can see themselves experiencing the same issues.
At the end of your commercial, it is important to ask an open ended question. You want to get the person with whom you are speaking to self-identify which of the issues that you have mentioned are most relevant to them.
There is no one right way to deliver the perfect 30-second commercial. To the contrary, there are many different ways to craft a powerful 30-second commercial.
Different Commercials for Different Audiences
The key to creating a successful commercial is to understand that you must create different commercials for different audiences.
If you are an attorney, accountant, or consultant with multiple practice areas in your firm, you should create a commercial for your specific practice area, as well as a firm-wide commercial touching on other practice areas. If you are in traditional sales, a 30-second commercial to a larger prospect may sound different than a 30-second commercial to a smaller prospect.
You may sell into different industries, and each industry may have a different set of problems that you could solve. In addition, you may develop different commercials for different people whom you speak with in an organization.
The business owner will have different problems than the financial person, and the financial person will have different problems than the end user. It is imperative to use the correct problem statements based on the person with whom you are speaking.
Case in Point
One of our clients, Mike, is a litigation attorney with a large law firm. Mike was frustrated because he would attend several networking events per month, but would never find new business opportunities. As we provided coaching for Mike, we asked him to recite the introduction that he used at the events. His introduction briefly mentioned his firm, and then he went into the (boring) details about how he handled litigation for his clients. In other words, he did not stand out.
Once he was done with his commercial, we asked Mike how often he met someone who either had just been sued, or was about to be sued by someone. He admitted that it was not an everyday occurrence to meet someone who had an immediate need for a litigator. We then asked Mike how many practice areas existed within his (large) firm.
He counted eight different business practice areas. We went on to ask if he ever received origination credit if he brought work into the firm that was completed by attorneys in different practice areas. He told us that he did get credit for business that was completed outside of his department if he originated the work.
We helped Mike build a general, firm-wide 30-second commercial addressing “big picture” problems that business owners were likely to face, such as:
- Believing they were not getting value for the fees they were paying their current attorney.
- Feeling frustrated because they were using two or three differ- ent small specialty firms to handle their matters, which was costing them more money.
- Feeling upset that the attorneys from different firms did not coordinate their efforts to come up with a business-wide strategy for the company.
Over the next six months, Mike developed $250,000 in new business by using his firm-wide commercial when meeting new people. All of this was new business that he developed for practice areas outside of litigation!
It gets better. Two of those clients ran into issues where they needed litigation over the next eighteen months. That resulted in an additional $150,000 of work for which Mike was awarded credit.
The 30-second commercial is one of the most powerful sales tools you can implement, but it will also be one of the most uncomfortable for you to begin to use. You must take the time to think about who you are delivering your message to, the challenges that you can help those people overcome, and the results that they could measure if they work with you. In addition, you must practice your commercial and get feedback from business coaches, co-workers, and prospects to ensure that you are delivering the most effective message possible.
About the Authors
Chuck Polin is the Owner of The Training Resource Group. He is a Professional Trainer and Coach and co-author of “Nobody Ever Told Me I’d Have to Sell!” Chuck is an experienced Sandler trainers who play an important role in Sandler’s worldwide organization. He brings over two decades of real world experience to their clients.
Connect with Chuck Polin
Evan Polin is the President of The Training Resource Group and co-author of “Nobody Ever Told Me I’d Have to Sell!” Evan is an experienced Sandler trainers who play an important role in Sandler’s worldwide organization. He brings over two decades of real world experience to their clients.
Connect with Evan Polin