Create an Easy, Head-Turning Elevator Speech

August 23, 2012 · Posted in Business Development, Business Tips · Comment 

You’re sitting in a room with 30 other business entrepreneurs.  Each of you has one minute to introduce themselves to the group.  You are number 25 to speak.  Will anyone listen?  What can you do or say to catch your peers’ attention, be memorable, and have them approach you for business?  Most importantly, what can you do to get every business card in the room wanting what you have (so you can go to fewer networking meetings and get back to running your business)?

The good news is you don’t have to be a poet, a writer, or a great speaker in order to attract attention and desire.  All you need to do is put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes for a minute.  What is it about your business, your products and services, and you that would interest a potential buyer?  Why should they care?  Why should they stop what they’re doing from their busy life and listen to you?  It’s easier to answer than it sounds.  Here’s a formula to help you along.

“I help “my ideal client” “get a certain result” through “my products or services.”

Let’s fill in these three blanks by using some examples:

“I help “young families” “find their first house” by “providing mortgage lending services.”

“I help “people with broken pipes” “keep their homes dry” through my “plumbing services.”

“I “protect families from financial disaster in times of crises” by providing “insurance services.”

“I help “women who want to have beautiful hair” “keep their hair healthy and vibrant” with “my all-natural, organic hair salon services.”

Now fill in the blanks for your business.  You may have to try a couple of variations until you hit on the perfect one for you.  But this formula beats saying “I’m a hairdresser,” “I’m a plumber,” or “I’m a mortgage lender.”

This is a great start to your elevator speech, but just a start.  Now add a second sentence that describes a project you just completed with another client similar to the one you’re talking with.

“For example, I just closed on a home last week with a mom, dad, the cutest 4-year-old twins, and a yorkie.  They got a great rate, and their payment is low enough so they can afford to start saving for the kids’ college right away.”

One more sentence and you’re done.  This one’s your call to action.  What do you want interested prospects to do, and how can they sample your product at a low risk to them?

“I have a free report, “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your First House.”  If you’d like a copy, please hand me your business card and I will email you the details.”

“I offer a free risk analysis so you can see if you have any major risk exposures.  To set up an appointment, hand me your business card, and I will get you setup free of charge.”

Put all three parts together and you have a very nice elevator speech.

“I help young families find their first house by providing mortgage lending services.  For example, I just closed on a home last week with a mom, dad, the cutest 4-year-old twins, and a yorkie.  They got a great rate, and their payment is low enough so they can afford to start saving for the kids’ college right away. I have a free report, 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Your First House.  If you’d like a copy, please hand me your business card and I will email you the details.”

Don’t be surprised at the flood of business cards that will come your way when you put this in action at your future networking meetings.

Recognizing a Job Well Done

August 9, 2012 · Posted in Business Tips, Management Tips · Comment 

When was the last time you praised your employees or contractors?  Hopefully, you’ve developed the good habit of frequently praising your team members, and if you haven’t, you’re certainly not alone.  Most of us do not get enough praise, so there’s a strong likelihood there’s room for improvement when it comes to recognition of a job well done in just about every workplace.  Here are some tips to praise more and help your workers flourish.

A Bias for Negativity and Criticism 

Our brains are designed by evolution to feel the emotions from negative interactions, including criticism and especially threats, in an exaggerated fashion when compared to feeling the emotions from positive interactions.  When we spotted a saber-toothed tiger, the brain that noticed and overreacted to the tiger by running away was rewarded with surviving.

That evolutionary trait doesn’t translate very well in the work environment we are in.  It takes a larger quantity of positive interactions versus negative interaction to just keep us at a neutral baseline of emotions.  And studies show we perform better when we are happy and positive.  So that’s why recognition is so important in a thriving workplace.

Dos and Don’ts

Here are some guidelines to help you deliver the most effective recognition in your workplace:

1. Be as specific as possible. 

Praise a specific task or interaction when possible rather than generalizing.

2. Direct the praise to a task or effort without listing personality characteristics, especially when you’re giving negative feedback.

For example, saying “The report was creased and had ink blotches on it” is better than saying “You are sloppy.”

3. Be timely in your praise.

Don’t wait a whole year to unload praises and criticisms on an employee.  Let them know where they stand on a frequent basis, and if possible, praise them right after they do something great.

4. If you need to give negative feedback, sandwich it.

The sandwich refers to feedback that is first positive, second negative, and last positive.  It’s important not to end on a negative note.  A sandwich would go like this:

“Jim, I appreciate how hard you worked on the Cole case.  You put in a lot of hours and showed dedication.  In the restructuring section, I would have liked to see you ask for help earlier in the project.    It would have avoided the delay we have now.  The section on asset disposition was terrific; you really know your stuff in that area.”

5. Always give feedback in private.

It’s important to honor a worker’s privacy when it comes to performance appraisals and even daily or weekly feedback.  If your employee is in a cubicle or other non-private area, you may need to find a place that is more private before you give feedback.

6. Never send negative feedback via email.

It can be really hurtful and is not appropriate at any time.  If a face-to-face meeting is not possible and it just has to be handled right away, then pick up the phone.

7. Use examples.

When giving positive or negative feedback, give several examples of what’s right and wrong so the employee will learn faster and understand better what is expected.

8. Be supportive.

You are on the same team; to grow the company.  The relationship should be supportive and not adversarial.

9. Explain the impact of actions.

Help the employee understand the downstream ramifications of their actions.

10. Encourage future behavior.

Use phrases like “I’d love to see you do more of that.”

Praise your team more often, and when you do, try these tips to watch your employees shine even more.

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