Talking About Your Value in Social Situations

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1 From Bill Cates, CSP, CPAE Talking About Your Value in Social Situations Learn to Play Verbal Ping Pong Brian Walter is one of the most creative people I know. He runs a company called Extreme Meetings. (www.extrememeetings.com) Brian s company specializes in helping companies and associations put on creative, engaging, and fun meetings using all manner of digital and analogue creativity. Brian has a clever approach to answering what he calls The Question. As he explained to me in his always dramatic style of delivery, You know the question I m talking about. You re talking to someone in an informal situation at a social event, on a plane, in line at Starbucks, or in the bleachers at your kid s basketball game when someone asks you the single, most important, awkward, open-ended inquiry you receive in your professional life What do you do? Just when you thought you had let go of thinking about work for a few precious minutes, you are instantly back in your business mode; wanting to sound confident, to be taken seriously, but not to make a big deal about it. Do you launch into your well-rehearsed elevator pitch that your company made you memorize during that workshop the week before? Or do you play it cool and hardly engage with the question? I m in sales. Hey, have you tried those miniature egg rolls? Their great! Brian Walter told me, In every single Elevator Speech system, model, process or article you read you will find one specific example held out as the gold standard of what to do. You know where this is heading. The CEO in the elevator scenario. ReferralCoach.com/resources

2 We are all led to believe that your Elevator Speech was crafted and rehearsed for just such a moment. You enter an elevator in a tall downtown office building. Inside, you are shocked to discover, is the CEO of the very company headquartered in this building. He or she turns to you and says something to the effect of, I might be able to use your service. Tell you what, you have until we reach the 23rd floor to convince me. Go. And in these so-called experts Elevator Speech systems, that s exactly what you do. Zoom talking rapidly, continuously, and without pauses until DING the 23rd floor is reached. The CEO exits the elevator, pause, and just as the doors begin to close blocks them open. Send me a contract by the end of the day and I ll sign it. Clunk. The doors close. And thus ends the successful elevator speech. As you can see, Brian has a vivid imagination and we know that this will never happen. Deals aren t done in elevators. We either just stare straight ahead at the door, play with our mobile devices or, in most cases, watch the floor numbers change. Brian s model for a concise way for us to communicate our value is based on what he learned in his years in advertising. One of the most important elements of an ad, usually the first thing you see (unless there s an irresistible image accompanying the ad) is the headline. The headline has two purposes. First, to stop your eyes; grab your attention for a second or two. That s why the word Free is still considered one of the most powerful words. Second, to get you to read the subhead. That s it! If the headline and subhead are relevant and compelling enough, you read further. Brian said, The job of the body copy is to give you just enough additional detail to transition you from interest to decision-making. A good ad always has a call to action. You place an order, request further information, etc. The job of the ad is complete. According to Brian Walter, An elevator speech is a progressively-revealed conversational answer to the question (What do you do?) that you deliver in such a way that people want you to keep talking. Brian calls this an Elevator Speech and I call it your Value Positioning Statement. Whatever you call it, in social settings, you can t just launch into some formal presentation. You want to lighten up a bit even have fun with it, if you can. ReferralCoach.com/resources 2

3 Progressively Revealed Many exponents of the elevator pitch or speech or whatever you want to call it, say that this statement should be between 15 and 30 seconds long. Have you ever timed this? 30 seconds is a monologue that, unless you really have something interesting to say, will have most people regretting they asked you the question. And as I already mentioned, for social settings you can t be so formal. Taking a hint from the advertising example above, your headline should take about 3 to 4 seconds. Shift your thinking to go from monologue to dialogue. Or, as Brian calls it, Verbal Ping Pong. You can blame that one on Brian. I m just quoting him. Keep reading, this is a great process. From Verbal Onslaught to Verbal Ping Pong The other person hits the ball to you by asking, What do you do? You immediately hit it back to them with a short answer. Then they decide if you ll both keep playing. What you don t want to do is hold on to the ball. With Verbal Ping Pong, the back and forth creates a comfortable, natural way to progressively reveal what you do. Your part of the verbal ping pong game is short. So, the person who asked the question doesn t feel like they are becoming the victim of a verbal onslaught. It s a game of ping pong and everybody knows how to play. And it can even be a lot of fun. Conversational Answer You want to talk conversationally. Use words like we help, figure out, kinda, basically, and pretty much. Now you might think, But those words aren t professional. No, it s that those words aren t formal. And your statement is about informal conversation. Straight Face Test To determine if my Value Positioning Statement is conversational or not, Brian encouraged me to do the Straight Face Test. Stand in front of a mirror, and ask yourself The Question. In response to the What do you do? inquiry start spouting out your Elevator Speech. Then see if you can keep a straight face while saying it. If you find yourself smirking, twitching, stuttering, laughing out loud, rolling your own eyes at yourself, or even involuntarily yelling out This is such B.S. then you have failed the Straight Face Test. What you need to then do is remove all the business buzz words and keep the six normal words left and start over! (Talking to Brian is always a lot of fun. Can you tell?) ReferralCoach.com/resources 3

4 Permission Marketing Have you heard the term Permission Marketing? Essentially, this type of marketing is designed to get people to simply request more information. They are, in effect, raising their hand and saying, I m interested. You have my permission to send me more information or tell me more about what you have to offer. Approach how you talk about your value especially in social settings as Permission Talking. After you say one line you look for the other person to indicate whether they re interested in what you just said. This is usually done through an I m listening grunt, facial expression, or even actual words such as sounds interesting or tell me more about that. Brian Walter s Wow How Now Formula The wow is your 3-4 four second immediate answer to What do you do? Then comes how; a sentence or two that explains bit about what and/or how you provide value. After that comes the now. Now is the start of the three most powerful words in the English language, Now, for example. Because that s the start of a story. And everyone likes a good story. Especially if it s short. Sound familiar? It s pretty much the same as the headline, subhead, and body copy of an advertisement. Brian shared the hypothetical, completely fictitious, example of HeartMaxSolution an automatic defibrillator. Let s pretend that you are an account executive for them, okay? Before learning the Wow, How, Now formula, the conversation might go as follows: So, what do you do? I m a medical device sales rep for HeartMax, the Fortune 500 s largest manufacturer of automated external defibrillators for the commercial and educational markets (breath) which are used by non-medical personnel for the urgent treatment of critical cardiac emergencies in large private or public environments. Is this true? Yes. Is it accurate? Yes. Do you want to hear more? No. This answer would probably be perfect for an interview with the Wall Street Journal. But that s not the context. And by answering in a default used-car-salesperson mode, you would alienate the person who asked you the question. ReferralCoach.com/resources 4

5 Step 1 The Wow Using his formula, here are a few examples Brian gives for the Wow. So, what do you do? I sell a product that makes near death experiences a little farther away. I m like AAA for the heart. I m in the cardiac arrest business. I m in the human jumper-cable business. And their favorite wow line Actually, what I do is quite shocking. It would be nearly impossible for someone to actually stop listening to you right now. They will likely chuckle and give you some indication to continue. The How It s my job to help save lives by getting our automated defibrillator units you know, The Paddles, into companies and schools. Unless your conversation partner walks away or decides to interrupt you with their personal heart attack story, you can keep going with more How and even into your Now. I didn t go to medical school, but I still feel like I m saving lives. Now for the hardest part. Stop talking! Don t hold on to the ball. Let Verbal Ping Pong work its magic. Let the other person react to what you ve said and tell you how what you do relates to them. When they are done, they will hit the ball back to you either by asking you a follow-up question or just shutting up. Either way, it s time for the Now. The Now Now for example Real-world story follows. It could be funny, or poignant, or just a bit interesting. You ve got them with the Wow and How. I can pretty much guarantee that they will lean in for a story. Now Sandra, you work in a large building downtown, right? Inside there s probably a thousand or so co-workers. On your floor, what s the name of a male colleague, probably in his fifties, who s perhaps a little on the heavy side? (Bob okay.) One morning you come in and pass Bob s office. You say hi ReferralCoach.com/resources 5

6 and notice that he s looking pretty pale. You can tell something s just not right. So, you stop. And he starts gasping and then collapses on the floor. and notice that he s looking pretty pale. You can tell something s just not right. So, you stop. And he starts gasping and then collapses on the floor. So, Sandra, you immediately yell to someone to call 911. Another colleague rushes in and starts doing CPR. But that s not going to save Bob. He s having a cardiac arrest and if his heart doesn t get shocked back into proper rhythm, he s going to die right there. For every minute that Bob goes without being defibrillated, his chance of survival drops by 10%. And by the time the paramedics get the call, drive over, park and make their way up the elevator to where Bob is it ll be about ten minutes. But fortunately for Bob, your company has a HeartMax automatic defibrillator on each floor. And Sandra, you took that short class on how to use it. So, you race over to the nearest unit and rip it off the wall. You pop the lid open and are relieved to get some audio prompts reminding you what to do. You re scared but in control. It tells you to unbutton his shirt. And then put the little pads on the right spots and step back. But then you suddenly think, Oh no I don t want to hit the button. I don t want to shock Bob. What if this a different kind of heart attack and he just needs CPR. But then you remember this is an AUTOMATIC defibrillator. The machine assesses Bob s condition, not you. After a few seconds, the machine automatically initiates the shock. Your coworker goes back to doing CPR. You notice a little color is starting to come back into Bob s face. At almost ten minutes exactly, the paramedics arrive. They disconnect the electrodes from the HeartMax unit and plug them into their own equipment, since they re compatible. They monitor Bob s vitals as they put him on a gurney and start to wheel him away. Before they leave, they point to HeartMax unit and say, It s a good thing you had one of those. You ask them if Bob is going to make it, and they yes. And you realize, Sandra, that this is best day at work that you are ever going to have. ReferralCoach.com/resources 6

7 So, you might be thinking, But what I do isn t this dramatic. Sure, what you do may not be life or death, but saving money, time, hassle all those things are close to life and death at businesses. And by using your services people can become a hero in their workplaces. So, find a way to conversationally make them the star of a narrative you provide. Verbal Ping Pong or Wow How Now. Whatever you call it. This is a fun and memorable way to talk about your value. You don t have to limit this to social settings, by the way. You can adapt this to just about any kind of setting. Fun! Memorable! Repeatable! And likely to create opportunities to meet people who need to know about the value you bring to the market by Bill Cates

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