5 Steps to Crafting a Powerful Elevator Speech

In a previous post – 12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster! – I shared that one of those keys is reading.  I mentioned in that section that I had wanted to improve the impact of my elevator speech so I read Small Message, Big Impact by Terri Sjodin.  Great book.  This is a must read for anyone in sales.  By the way, we are all in sales in some way.

Cory Spanko commented on that post asking if I would share that elevator speech.  So this is my response to his request.  (Thanks Cory for giving me the idea for this post!  DM me your address on twitter – I’d like to send you this book.)

About a year ago, I was in Chicago for the Sperry Van Ness National Convention. It is always a great event.  I leave with dozens of actionable ideas from the first-class advisors that attend.  This convention had a competition called SVN Idol.  The premise of the competition was 4 advisors would compete in giving “The Presentation.”  The winner won $1000.  I was one of the four.  I was going to win that prize.

We were told in advance that we would compete in giving the canned SVN listing presentation.  (I don’t like canned presentations, but that is a topic for another post.)  We were not told that there would be round two.  In round two, we had to give an elevator speech.  I was not prepared.  Transparently, I tend to be good when I’m prepared.  I’m not awesome on the fly.  I did well in round 1.  I bombed round 2.  My good friend Henry Hanna left victorious.  I left knowing that I had a few books to read.

The key to a powerful elevator speech is that it gets you a meeting.  That is all it needs to do.  If I’m in line at Starbucks and have an opportunity, can I get a meeting with a prospect in 90 seconds?  Not only must it be powerful, but it needs to be adaptable.  Too many people look for the magic bullet – if I say these 3 things, I’ll get that meeting.  No.  You need a powerful framework that can be custom fit to the prospect.

That framework is Monroe’s Motivational Sequence (MMS).  Thank you @terrisjodin for writing a fantastic book!  MMS is a logical and sequential 5 step process to motivate someone to take action.  This method does not have to be an elevator speech.  It could be much longer.  It works brilliantly for a super short speech, however.

The 5 Steps of Monroe’s Motivational Sequence

  1. Attention – I always think about Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross here.  But you don’t have to be a complete jerk to get someone’s attention.  You do have to be interesting.  You do have to understand what is important to your prospect.  Example: “There is only one way to maximize the value of your property, and my company is the only one that can do it.”
  2. Problem – This could also be an opportunity.  I’ve heard John McDermott say 100 times that people sell property because they have a problem or an opportunity.  That’s it.  I think the same is true of anyone buying or selling anything.  They have a problem or an opportunity.  You need to know what it is, and hone in on it here.
  3. Solution – Share with them the solution to their problem or opportunity.  Ideally, how you can solve their problem or help them capitalize on their opportunity.
  4. Visualize – This step hooks them.  Here you want to encourage them to visualize the glorious future destiny that awaits them if your solution becomes a reality for them.  Use the word “imagine.”  “Imagine how much fun it will be, Mr. Prospect, when multiple capable buyers are competing for your property and driving up the price!”
  5. Action – Now you share with them what you would like them to do.  In the context of an elevator speech, you want them to agree to have the next meeting.  If you are a politician, you want their vote.  Be specific.  Ask them to sign on the line that is dotted!

As a parting example, watch this video of my dad making his announcement speech to run for office.  It is short and sweet.  See if you can pick out the steps above.  [Skip to the 4 minute mark]

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  Share a story of an elevator speech opportunity that went well.  Or that bombed.  What other elevator speech methods have you used with success?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Great post, Bo – enlightening to show how your ‘failure’ motivated you to step up your game. I love this Elevator Pitch builder tool from Harvard Business School (link below) – a @ducttape post that has been in my Twitter Favorites list since June 2010.


    • Bo Barron, CCIM

      Barbi – you can learn from others or from your own mistakes. I prefer the former! However, when I do fall on my face, I purpose to learn everything that I can from that experience so I never have to repeat it!

      Thanks for the resources. I’ll check them out!

  • Great post again! I’ve always looked at the elevator pitch with the mindset that you can either be a “vitamin” or a “pain” pill. If someone has a headache, as most potential clients do, you want to be the pill that makes the pain go away. That’s where you have the most impact, and when folks are in pain, they don’t want to waste time thinking about vitamins. Vitamins are great, but a harder sell. After all, I only think about vitamins when i’m in “healthy mode” and they are least necessary.