You and Your Elevator Speech

–Pssst. I have to share a secret with you. But you can’t tell anyone. Ready? What we’re going to discuss is not really an elevator speech. Or an elevator pitch! Because if we were to have that discussion, it may encourage you (maybe even force you) to pitch your products and services. And that’s not what an elevator speech should be about. Got it? What we’re really talking about is a positioning statement – as in a way of positioning you to generate attraction, communication, confidence, connections, focus, marketing, and ultimately more and better relationships. Sound good? But again, our little secret.

elevator-pitchEvery agent, advisor, planner, or sales rep who actively networks is familiar with the ever popular “elevator speech.” This is typically the “30-second” introduction used to explain what you do so others understand how to help. A good “elevator speech” should be light fare (not too much jargon or industry stuff), kind of fun (perhaps depending on your market), and memorable.

Now the confusion. Let’s go from Elevator Speech to Positioning Statement to what I call The PEEC Statement. PEEC stands for Profession, Expertise, Environments, and Call-to-Action.

This very model has helped countless advisors and sales reps land a client, make a connection, or get more information. It’s absolutely one of my favorite approaches that I teach advisors. And it work for job seekers.

Here’s how it works.

Profession – This is a broad way of describing your role, it’s not necessarily your title but it could be. For example, if you’re a financial advisor, focus on who you help and what you help them with – just keep it pretty general. If you want to make it punchy, funny, and poignant, than do so as long as it’s appropriate and reflects your personality. “You know who Bernie Madoff is, right? Well, I’m one of the good guys! I’m a financial advisor focused on helping businesses with their financial management.” The more you can differentiate yourself from your counterparts – the better. Just don’t get too cutesy or cliché. I like the direct approach and most people do too.

Expertise – This speaks to the areas within your business where you have the most knowledge. As an advisor, your expertise may be in the areas of long term care, annuities, and financial planning. I just wouldn’t rattle off more than three areas because it may come across that you’re trying to be all things to all people. Just talk about your top three favorites or where you think you have the most expertise. Of course, these may not be your only areas of expertise but you wouldn’t share everything on the first date, would you? 

Environments – This is your target market – whom you serve best and therefore wish to serve most. “I do most of my work in the physician marketplace.” A typical concern of advisors is that they’re pigeon holing themselves or limiting other opportunities but in my experience the exact opposite is true. People in other fields will be attracted to you because you’re a specialist (with physicians or whomever) and therefore must be very good. “It seems you work with mostly physicians but as an attorney I may have some of the same financial challenges and concerns. Do you think you could help me?” Ball is in your court.

Call to Action – Your direct request of the person you’re speaking with at that networking event, cocktail party, chamber, or association meeting. Be specific about what you’re looking to accomplish and who you’re looking to meet or be introduced to. The more specific you are (names, titles, companies), the more successful you will be. “I’m looking to meet or be introduced to a physician that’s part of the Northeast Health Care Network. If you could provide some advice, insight or recommendations on how I can make that connection, I’d appreciate it!” A word of caution – don’t ask for an opportunity to sit down with them for 20 minutes to show them the value of what you do. And no fact finders! Remember, this is NOT a sales pitch.

Think Positioning Statement and also think networking. That means that you’re connecting with others and exploring ways you can help one another.

Before you get too excited, there are 8 rules that need to be considered that help put The PEEC Statement in the proper perspective.

First, you have to be asked. “So what kind of work do you do?” You can’t be working a room and introducing yourself using The PEEC Statement without being engaged in conversation first – otherwise it’s too much information too soon. When you’re asked about your work, the PEEC Statement is an excellent way to explain it. The exceptions to this rule – you’re the speaker at an event, you’re at a networking group that avails you 30 seconds (or however long) to deliver your “pitch”, or you’re using this approach with someone you already know like your natural market (friends and family) or a client. Imagine that! Then you can simply ask, “Uncle Todd, can I bounce something off of you?” (Hopefully he says yes.) And you can deliver your PEEC Statement in perfect context.

Second, you have to be short, sweet, and to the point. Roughly 15-20 seconds. Your delivery should be less if you’re speaking to someone informally at an event and more expanded if you’re formally presenting (your 30 second speech) at a networking group.

Third, you have to be very specific. If you like to work with small businesses, consider what industry, profession, market segment, and demographic they might represent. That’s powerful! Typically, the more specific you are – the more interest you create. There’s a big difference between looking to do more work within the health care industry versus wanting to be introduced to physicians affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital. Big difference!

Fourth, look to create AIR Time – not just an opportunity to expand the conversation but be in the habit of asking for Advice, Insight, and Recommendations (AIR).

Fifth, don’t compromise your brand. You shouldn’t be changing all that much given your audience otherwise over time you’ll confuse people and ultimately make yourself less referable.

Sixth, only ONE PEEC Statement per customer. And by customer I mean you! You can’t have numerous versions of your elevator speech – one geared towards healthcare and yet another relating to engineers. It’s too confusing and way too much work. If you must have more than one marketplace, simply include both in one statement.

Seventh, find your own voice. Use my approach and model (PEEC) but deliver it in your own way. The PEEC Statement is not a script. I repeat – not a script. Well, it starts out that way because I’m using the PEEC script as a learning tool. But once you understand the concepts, Profession, Expertise, Environments, and Call to Action become your bullet points allowing you to deliver your message using your own personality and style.  As Lucille Ball said, “Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else.” Amen!

Eighth the PEEC Statement is NOT a sales pitch. So don’t use it to set appointments (that shouldn’t be your Call to Action) so you can sell your services. Think networking!

Once you know your PEEC Statement (or elevator speech/positioning statement) cold, it should become second nature. Your delivery will just flow as a natural conversation but the specificity of it makes it a highly effective networking tool. Here is an example!

“I’m a financial advisor with XYZ Financial Group focused on helping small businesses with their financial management. My expertise is in a number of areas including life insurance, annuities, and financial planning. Most of my work is focused on small retail companies in New York City. I’m looking to meet or be introduced to the owners of companies like Smith’s Convenience Store. Any advice as to how to get connected with them would be appreciated!”

Deliver a prepared, powerful, and interesting PEEC Statement and enjoy the rewards of effectively promoting yourself, your career, your market, and your practice.

Are my 30 seconds up?



Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg has helped financial advisors, brokers, agents, reps, wholesalers and other sales producers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to their bottom line. His firm Knock Out Networking, LLC is renowned as a speaking and training resource in the financial services industry. Described by clients as a “spark plug”, Michael is a master at invigorating and engaging audiences. His “knock-out” style is “in your face” and high energy. His content is “real world” and can be applied immediately. Michael speaks at conferences and associations, runs sales meetings, and delivers “results driven” programs on networking, referral marketing, and sales presentations. Clients include John Hancock Investments, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Guardian Life, Jackson National, Penn Mutual, AXA Advisors, Prudential, MetLife, New York Life, Thrivent Financial, Colonial Life, and Chubb & Son. Michael writes regular columns for the Huffington Post, Life Health Pro, Producers Web, Producers E-Source, Horsesmouth and has been quoted in the Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal. Michael has spoken at numerous conferences in the financial services industry including the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and has spoken for TEDx at Yale University. Educational background includes a Masters Degree in Training and Organization Development from Lesley University and a Bachelors Degree from CUNY Brooklyn in Hospitality Management. Michael is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an earned designation awarded by the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers to recognize demonstrated commitment to the speaking profession through proven speaking experience. Fewer than 10 percent of the thousands of speaking professionals worldwide hold this designation. He is currently an award winning adjunct professor at Rutgers University and frequently volunteers as a speaker at organizations focused on career search.

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