Elevator Speech


Elevator Speech

March 1, 2016
Bill Gatten
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OK, you’re on an elevator headed from the parking garage to the fifth floor and there’s a person standing next to you, looking up at the lighted digits above the door, who turns and casually sizes you up and asks: “So…’what do you do for a living?”

What do you say?

  • “Oh, I’m in sales.” (Meaning: “None of your business, and you’re not going to be standing next to me long enough to get into any details anyway, so let’s let it go at that.”)
  • “I’m an investor.” (Meaning: “Envy me for 30 seconds …and think of me as someone you wish you could be…’whether I am actually that or not. And always wonder what “kind” of investor I might be…’as if you really gave a hoot”).
  • “Me?  ‘For a living? ‘Oh, not a whole lot these days…’how about you? What do YOU do?” (Meaning: “None of your business. But if you insist on talking, fire away, it’s your nickel!  Me? I’ll just pretend to listen as you babble-on…’oops, well, doggone, here’s your floor already!”)
  • “Me?  I’m a teletype operator having a bit of a struggle finding a job, what with all them photo facsimile machines out there these days. If it weren’t for my taste for beans and Spaghetti-O’s, my wife’s taking in laundry and clipping coupons, I’d be…’like…’well… SOL! How about you? What do you do?” (Meaning: “Are you a loser too? Gawd, I sure hope so, because it’s awfully lonely here on the corner of Out-of-Touch-with-Realty Street and Co-Dependency Boulevard.”) “ OK, alrighty then…(‘as the elevator door opens) ‘you go on now and have yourself a nice day…hear? (‘you say in a southern dialect).  Then to the back of the closing elevator doors, you whisper, “Damn! I wish I could afford a suit like that.”

Or..’.maybe you’d answer the elevator question this way:

“Well actually, I work here in the building during the day; but I also dabble in real estate.” (Meaning: I’m unhappy with my plight in life and am trying to better myself without risking anything by letting of of my life-raft. ‘So don’t judge me by what my answer would have been, if I hadn’t added the “but I dabble in real estate” part.”

Or…’how about this one:

“Who me? Oh, I’m a big time real estate investor.” (Meaning: “If you’re really interested in what I do, you’ll ask more questions and get me started, and, once I’m on a roll, I’ll explain how you can benefit greatly from my services.‘ Otherwise…’Oh damn, we’re already at your floor.”)

Now, think about it…’that person who was standing beside you for the short ride is now gone forever, but may well have been someone you could have helped, and received value from in the process…’had you only said the right thing…’i.e., ‘had the proper response been immediately handy and ready to be spouted without thinking about it.

That fellow passenger may in fact have had a house to sell at a bargain price; ‘he may have been an owner in distress willing to let you just take over his loan; ‘he might have been a rehabber looking for a deal.

That guy next to you might have been a prospective buyer for the house or condo you just rehabbed. The fact is that your co-passenger was an ‘all-ears, one-man captive audience’ for those 30 seconds of your life. ‘Why on Earth didn’t you sell him something?

Well, the reason you didn’t even try to sell him something, was because you presumed he didn’t really want an answer to his question and didn’t care enough about you personally to give a hoot about what you might have to say.  Or…’maybe…just maybe…he was just a lonely guy looking for a 30 second buddy to jabber meaninglessly to for half-minute.

All of these assumptions may in fact have been absolutely on the mark. But the big question is: Why didn’t you understand that the actual question was “What do you have that might benefit me?”  Why didn’t you use that precious free time to your maximum advantage?

Consider what “might” have resulted if you’d said something like the following instead: 

“Oh me?  I help folks buy and sell homes and investment real estate in all price ranges without cash or credit.”

There you go…7 seconds on the button and 23 left over.

Then if they say “Oh really?”  That’s when you continue: “Yup, if I’m buying, I pay full price, all cash or terms: if I’m selling I don’t require loan qualifying, a credit reports or big chunks of cash up front. Here’s my card, let me have one of yours.”

There’s still another 15 seconds, and we’re not even to the fourth floor yet…’if the “prospect” is interested in you or what you just said, he might by pass his floor, or ask that you step off the elevator with him for a minute or two; ‘if he’s not interested, ‘you just stare blankly at him until the door opens and he disappears, never to be seen again (‘by you, anyway).”

Now…’if that fellow passenger just happened to have been a prospect (buyer or seller) and by chance you had titillated his fancy (‘as it were) with your pre-planned, memorized, elevator speech, the question is: Did you give him every chance to know who you were and what you can do for him, were he to fit one of the criterion for your business?

Sure you did! But with those other lame answers that everyone else uses…’could any of them have made the slightest bit difference in anyone’s financial life…’much less the life of the guy headed for the fifth floor…’or your own?

“Who me?  Well, I’m an insurance agent: I make widows wealthy and I get royalties from having coined the phrase”God Forbid.”  Nope! Sorry, but you merely wasted your precious moments with that person.

So what’s the point of all this? Well, let me see. How about the point being:

1) We should all find a tall building and ride up and down in elevators all-day proffering 22 second elevator speeches to everyone who comes aboard?  No?  Well, ‘um…

2) Elevators are a great place to find motivated buyers and sellers? No? OK then,

3) It’s alright to talk to strangers on an elevator? Maybe…’at least we’re getting closer!

4) If I am ever caught between floors in an elev…No! No! No…

The actual point is simply this:

You must stop what you are doing right now, and take a half-hour to work out your “perfect,” sure-fire, concise elevator speech.

Once refined (and set to memory) resolve to always have your elevator-speech at the ready when those opportunities arise for your 22-second presentations.  You’ll be finding and qualifying prospects everywhere you go with the minimum amount of effort and maximum effect without intruding on anyone’s time.

Your audience will let you know instantly whether they are prospects or not. The ones who don’t need you and have nothing to offer you will say: “Oh that’s nice and begin talking about what THEY do for a living (‘at which point you remember having forgotten to turn off your coffee pot at home, or you can begin humming “It’s a Small, Small Word”).

The E.S. (elevator speech) is an absolute necessity for those of us in this business (especially in THIS business), and it works everywhere you go: at Church, at a cocktail party, a Chamber of Commerce Mixer; in  the checkout line at the grocery store; at your AA (“Auto Club”) meeting; when meeting your fiancée’s parents for the first time; when meeting your daughter’s fiancée for the first time (…the latter being far worse, believe me…’whomever invented nose rings and tongue piercings is an ass…idiot); standing in the Unemployment or Welfare Line (…Ok, scratch those last two…with a good elevator speech, you’ll never need either one).

THE MESSAGE AGAIN:  Develop at once a brief and concise Elevator Speech! Memorize it word-for-word, and be ready to recite it at every opportunity when someone steps-up and says: “What do you do for a living?”

Here’s mine:

“I’m in creative real estate investing, ‘always looking for good deals to buy, or good people to coach and mentor in picking up no-down, no-credit income properties.”   

Here’s an old one that, for some reason, never made me a dime:

“Shut up! What I do for a living is none of your %^&ing business!  Open your yap again Butt-Brain, and I’ll slam it shut for you!”  

I don’t know why, but I never got any significant traction with that one.