The Elevator Pitch

CC image: ‘Elevator Doors’ by Ricardo Diaz

When you go to an event with friends you always end up meeting new people. Whether you are at a ball game or a BBQ, it is inevitable that someone is going to ask “What do you do?”. This is your chance to either amaze them or repeat the boring paragraph HR used when describing your position.

Here is a great response to “What do you do?”.

“Do you know what your most valuable asset is? Most people make mention of their home, cars or other high value possessions. Although those are valuable your most important asset is your future income. This is the income you will make over the life of your professional career. My job is to protect that income by limiting your exposure from liabilities such as your home, auto and yourself.”

From that response you want to know more about what the person does and you also want to ask questions to see if that person could potentially provide value for you.

Much more powerful then the standard “I sell insurance” response.

CC image: ‘Elevator Doors’ by Ricardo Diaz

Keep It Simple

How often have you thought up an elaborate promotion to get your team and customers excited about your product(s)? It seems like the more elaborate the promotion the less likely it is to succeed.

Dollar Shave Club does a great job of holding monthly contests that are both simple and fun. Check out their most recent one below.

You should consider “keeping it simple” when planning your 2013 promotions.

Are you a knife or a tool?

When you look at a Swiss army knife you quickly realize it is more than a knife. With a corkscrew, tweezers, screwdriver and can opener, it is clear, this is a tool capable of many functions.

When you offer your customers products or services what sets you apart? Do you take the knife approach, only there to help with one thing? Or are you the tool, capable of helping your customer with a variety of tasks?

You may be a great “knife”, but customers are looking for support in a variety of ways. They are looking for a tool that can help them get more done with their limited resources.

In this case, being a tool is a good thing.

Insights… and VALUE


It was a cold morning at a subway station in Washington D.C. A young man walked through the crowd, opened his violin case, and proceeded to play for 45 minutes.

Thousands of people walked by him, it was rush hour. Only six people stopped to listen. Twenty people threw change into his case, for a total of $32.

What people didn’t know:

  • it was Joshua Bell;
  • playing 6 of the most intricate Bach pieces;
  • on a $3.2 million violin;
  • and 2-days earlier he played in Boston to a sold-out crowd, where ticket prices started at $100/seat.

If people had the above Insights, they would have stopped, and Joshua would have garnered a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands. People walking towards the music could “hear” that the music was different, but their blockers were on… and he was playing for quarters, not $100’s.

What Insights should your prospects & customers know about your company?

Our job as sales/marketing professionals is to create VALUE.

Insights do just that. Remove the blockers.

[Joshua Bell in DC Metro a true story]

Cut Everything In Half

We’re all busy; and we get hundreds of e-mails, voice-mails, text messages, etc… every single month.

Do your customer a favor:

  1. Draft your email/vmail/proposal;
  2. Re-read it;
  3. Then reduce the number of words by 50%.

Your customers will appreciate it, you’ll gain more credibility, and your message will be that much more powerful.

[This post used to be twice as long]

Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts

There’s really no differences between the two… both have flavored coffee, both have food. Sure, you could argue for hours about the quality of drinks, how they’re brewed, etc… but as a “buyer” I’ll come back to you each time with, “Yeah, but it’s still just a coffee bean at the end of the day, pal.”

Chocolate donuts with coffee

So then, how is it exactly then that these two companies create VALUE for their customers?

Both maintain DISTINCTION.


  • Take your time kind of place;
  • Bring your laptop;
  • Sit and read the paper.


  • Move your butt;
  • Get out of line;
  • Get a good cup coffee, quickly!

These are two very successful companies that have won by creating Distinction. They don’t focus their selling and marketing efforts around the “difference” between the features and benefits of their coffee, they do so around the experience.

Successful companies today realize that the tried and true historical best strategy for success is to create and maintain DISTINCTION.

Distinction creates VALUE.

What About Bid?


There couldn’t be a more true statement: “The value lies in the contrast.” Rigid drill costs $100, Bosch at $200; then you compare the features and benefits of each drill, and decide what type of value you get for the extra hundred bucks.

What about Bids? Builders are shopping three, four and five LYards at a time for quotes on a single job… and LYards prep their quotes, list their products, and total that bottom line $$ number… and that’s EXACTLY where the builder starts, that final $$ amount that it’s gonna cost him.

When your bottom line number is higher than the competition, how easy it is for the builder to understand the VALUE he gets for the extra monies? What if you could find a way to include a “value” column in the bid? What if you could highlight a benefit of each product on your quote, compared to the cheaper products your competition is carrying, and that value created could somehow be totaled?


Now how cool would it be to find a way to calculate total labor savings…

WARNING: demonstrating value through contrast can lead to excessive amounts of orders.

Blah, Blah, Blah…

Test yourself.  How many passes does the team in white make?

Too many times the salesperson shows up to a sales call and “tells, tells, tells” about their products and services, focused on making sure that the customer knows how great they are… never focusing on the exact needs of the customer. As salespeople, we’re so intent on communicating the features & benefits of our products that we fail to ever recognize the pain of the moon-walking bear getting in the way of our customer’s operations.

Ask questions to understand your customer’s pain. Seek first to understand; then be understood.

Once we accomplish that, we’ll be better able to help our customer kick that moon-walking bear out of the game. Ultimately, that’s what we’re there to do: provide a product or service that improves your customer’s business.