When we meet people at parties, networking events or fundraisers our guard is up.  We are vigilant against getting suckered into any type of sales pitch or hidden agenda.  The moment a stranger approaches us, we are on the hunt for their motive.  It’s unavoidable. 

Advisors must be aware of these conscious and subconscious blocks and act accordingly.   One approach is to ditch your elevator speech.  While this may sound counterintuitive, some of the top advisors we coach are masters of this simple tactic. 

When advisors are in social situations and someone asks about what they do, if they immediately jump into a canned elevator speech, it builds a wall between the prospect.  It doesn’t matter how rehearsed they are – how eloquently it flows from their mouth - people can tell.  The more provocative the elevator speech, the more canned it comes across.  Responding with something so thought provoking that the person you are meeting wants to know more is “old school.”   

The first impression you create sets the tone for how the prospect responds to all future contact with you. If you really want to prospect socially, you have to get the prospect to open up to you in the most natural way possible.  We recommend two objectives when responding to this question…

  1. Quickly position yourself as an expert and avoid pigeonholing yourself as a broker.  Think less elevator speech and more positioning statement.
  2. Take the conversation down a social path. Basically, make it all about the other person.
     

For example, while at a charity function you might say…

“I’m part of a team that does (insert financial specialization).  So, how did you get involved with (XYZ) charity?”
 

While at your kid’s soccer game, you might say…

“I help people (insert financial specialization).  So, tell me more about your kids. You mentioned your oldest daughter just graduated college?

 

You are essentially diffusing your own elevator speech.  While this might sound counterintuitive, it’s one of the best ways to position you in a professional light and open up a natural conversation using non-business dialogue. 

Here are two reasons we think you should throw the traditional elevator speech out the window…

 

  1. Most People Aren’t Listening

Really?  Yes, Really.  Asking what someone does is common courtesy in most social situations.   Anyone trying to turn that into a sales conversation can come across disingenuous and irritating.

  1. It’s Really About Building Rapport

If your objective is to network socially for business (which our research shows as a high impact activity), step one is to build rapport.  No one is going to do business with you because you wowed him or her with your elevator speech. 

 

For some advisors, their elevator speech is getting in the way.  Next time you are in a social interaction, make your first impression count - ditch the elevator speech and focus on them.

 

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry.  @StephenBoswell  @KevinANichols  www.oechsli.com