Most business owners are very familiar with the “elevator pitch,” that short, succinct description of your company that you should be able to deliver in the time it takes to travel between floors on an elevator.
Over the years, working with various business coaches and mentors, I’ve received conflicting advice about the effectiveness of this brand-building technique. Where one advisor stresses the importance of committing a short, impactful speech to memory, another counters with a “throw out your elevator speech and just be yourself” mantra. While I can relate to both sides of this debate, a recent presentation from sales training veteran Tim Shaver made a very convincing case for the power of memorization.
At the most recent installment of the Nashville Area Chamber’s “Business Studio” series, Shaver related the compelling story of a business owner whose elevator-speech obsession led to his company’s first big breakthrough. With only nine employees, the firm was marketing what was then a new and cutting edge product – large screen TVs. All nine employee were required to completely commit that short speech to memory, to the point where it flowed as naturally as breathing.
As they struggled to get their footing, the company’s executive assistant happened to attend the opening of a new Super Walmart in her neighborhood. At the same event was a high-level Walmart executive, in town from the company’s Arkansas headquarters for the occasion. Engaging the customer in a conversation, the exec asked where she worked, and she launched into a smooth-and-flawless version of her company’s elevator speech. Intrigued, the store exec handed her his business card, and – long story short – a fledgling business received an order for thousands of big-screen TVs.
The lesson is clear. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or the employer of several hundred people, everyone – everyone – in your company should have that speech ready to go at all times. When it’s “all aboard,” each employee becomes an ambassador, a potentially powerful advocate for what you do and the unique way that you do it.