The Elevator Speech

By Dr Harry Singh / 14 Nov 2016

Dr Harry Singh outlines how to effectively market your services in 30 seconds to persuade potential patients to book a consultation

Just imagine you are about to enter a lift on the ground floor. Another person joins you, so there are now two of you in the lift. You are going to Floor 13 and the other person is going to Floor 16. It will take you roughly 30 seconds to reach your floor. The other person turns to you and asks, “What do you do?”

What would your answer be? Don’t forget this could be a potential customer and first impressions count. According to an article published in Psychological Science citing five experiments by the authors, it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and longer exposures don’t always significantly alter those impressions.1,2

I play out this elevator scenario on a regular basis during my lectures and more than 90% of the audience will reply with something along the lines of, ‘I’m a dentist’, ‘I’m a doctor’, ‘I’m a nurse’ or ‘I do botulinum toxin injections’. The problem with these answers is that you are stating that you are the profession you belong to or the product that you offer. As soon as you say you are your product or profession, the person will have pre-conceived ideas of these. In many cases, this can be a positive, but can also be a negative considering the bad press about certain facial aesthetic procedures that are often portrayed in the media, such as celebrities and the public who have experienced a bad service or result. They may think of dentists as scary and expensive. They may have thoughts that botulinum toxin is painful or unnatural. However, there must be a better way. And, in my opinion, there is. When replying to the original question of ‘What do you do?’, instead of answering it with your profession or the products you work with, talk about the value you offer. It is this that will engage and ultimately encourage customers to buy from you.

Let’s now look at how we can convey the value we offer in 30 seconds or less – hence the phrase ‘the elevator speech’, which can be used in situations where you are hoping to promote your services. The elevator speech consists of five parts:

1. What is the problem?

Generally, we only seek a solution or buy something if we have a problem that needs solving. If you look back at any purchasing decision, you will find that purchasing that particular item solved a problem you once had. For example, if you join a gym it’s normally solving your goal to get fitter or lose weight. If you order a take away, it’s solving the problem of hunger and convenience. Therefore, the first thing we say should relate to a problem that the potential customer may be facing or thinking about. We obviously don’t want to embarrass that potential customer by suggesting that, for example, they don’t look good or may need some botulinum toxin. Instead, we should make our first statement very general and not directly personal to them. My opening line would be something like, “You know how some people are concerned about fine lines and wrinkles…”

Note how I have used ‘how some people’, thus not necessarily directing the statement to them. However it broadens the appeal of my offering, because now they will start thinking about their friends and family, who may be concerned with fine lines and wrinkles, as well as themselves.

2. Why is the problem a problem?

I often find that many people seem to need a lot of motivation before taking action. Generally speaking, psychically we are inclined to be pleasure seekers and pain avoiders.3 This means that we will either take action to gain something enjoyable or we will take action to avoid, or get away from something that may be uncomfortable or painful.3 We will have one dominate over the other and most of us will be a mixture of both. Pain is almost always a stronger motivator for action, we will take more action to get away from pain than to seek pleasure.3 For example, in my personal life, I take a leisurely approach to my weight and fitness; some days are good and some days are bad. I know how fit I would like to be, but find it hard to be motivated to continually take action. But, if my wife tells me that if I don’t get fit, she will leave me, do you think I will be much more motivated to take action? I see ‘pain’ as the catalyst of action and ‘pleasure’ as the continuation of action.

Therefore we want the person in the elevator to consider the consequences of taking no action. My statement would continue to say, “You know how some people are concerned about fine lines and wrinkles, which means that they appear older than they really are?” Because people don’t necessarily want to look younger, rather, they just want to look good for their age, this statement should resonate with the person I am talking.

3. Your unique solution

Now that we have addressed what the problem is and the consequences of taking no action, we should consider the solution. The biggest mistake you can make is to sell too early and in too much detail. The action we want that potential customer to make is to call us for a consultation. We are not selling the whole treatment plan on the first visit – build trust first, solve a minor problem/concern for them, before jumping into a full face treatment plan. We therefore want to make our solution very generic to overcome anticipated objections. If we can overcome objections before the person starts thinking about them, there is likely to be a much higher conversion rate.

What objections could come up concerning, for example, botulinum toxin?

It could be the fact it’s a toxin, which may raise concerns with safety, seeing unnatural or frozen results. As such, we should address this in our next statement, perhaps by saying, “I offer gentle, natural and safe results.” You can see that the statement is very non-specific, because, as stated before, we are not selling the details, but the opportunity for them to come and see us for a consultation.

4. Why choose you?

Next, we want to look at what makes you stand out from the competition. This could be your profession, experience, location, specific qualifications or skills or equipment. “I have been doing this since 2002,” would be a good statement to make next. You could also say, “I’m medically qualified and open on weekends.” Also, you could reference that you offer a unique treatment that no one else offers in your local area. You are looking for your USP – unique selling proposition.

5. A call to action

Lastly, but most importantly, we want the person to take action easily. We also want to broaden our network and encourage them to pass the message to family and friends. To end, I would say, “If you know anyone who might be interested, here is my card.”

You can now see the ‘elevator speech’ put together below. This should take no longer than 30 seconds to say.

“You know how some people are concerned about fine lines and wrinkles, which means that they appear older than they really are? Well I offer gentle, natural and safe results and I have been doing this since 2002. If you know anyone who might be interested, here is my card.”

Doesn’t this sound much better than saying, “I do botulinum toxin?”

When to use the elevator speech

This technique is very useful to convey the value of what you offer as a practitioner. I use the elevator speech verbally, when I am at networking business events where I am looking to promote my services. I use the same format on my website and any marketing material I want to distribute. However, there is a time and a place and I don’t use it when in social situations and functions where I am not looking to sell. In these situations we are not looking to drum up business and a couple of words explaining your profession will suffice. 

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