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Here’s a question: How much would your sales increase if you could improve your conversation-starter success rate? If you could make the first thirty seconds of your interaction with a prospective buyer land with significantly more impact, deliver a better person-to-person response, and generate more scheduled next steps? If you’re like most of the sales professionals we work with, the answer is: Plenty.

Fortunately, there are three simple things you can do, starting today, that will immediately upgrade your 30-second commercial (also known as your elevator speech). Take a look.

Step one: Be outwardly focused. Set aside half an hour today to give your 30-second commercial a makeover. How? By making it all about the individual you will be talking to. Most 30-second commercials are inwardly focused. They’re all about me, the salesperson, my organization, my product, my service, and my solution. If you're reading the words of your 30-second commercial on paper, and you see that it's all about your company, or you as an individual, do yourself a favor: scrap it. Start over. Work your way backwards to how what you offer affects the individual on a personal level. What pain, problem, or personal challenge arises for people who don’t have your solution? Build your wording around that.

Step two: Block out one-hour increments where you will deliver your 30-second commercial. That hour could be devoted to an in-person networking event. Or, it could be a series of phone calls. Or initial video conversations with people you’ve connected with and set appointments with by asking your best customers for referrals. Whatever the platform, whatever the source of the connection, block out that time in your calendar and protect it, week after week.  Remember, the first impressions that you have with people is where you're going to have the highest fail rate. That means that if you can move the needle in a positive direction in that first stage of the sales process with that first impression, either by making more total contacts or delivering more effective conversation-starters, you're going to dramatically increase your bottom-line results.

Step three: Use a negative hook at the end of your 30-second commercial. A negative hook sounds like this: “I’m guessing, though, that reducing employee turnover is not a big priority for you, that you don’t have any problems keeping people on staff, and that there’s no reason for us to talk any further.” In other words, suggest that the person do the opposite of what you want them to do. This kind of question forces people to discard their tapes, step away from their script, forget about disengaging, and actually think about what you just said. When you use a negative hook, you are more likely to hear an honest answer from the other person.

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