For today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, Linda G. Hill has given us the word “practice” and to use it anyway we like.
When I thought about the word “practice,” I was reminded of my days in the business world when we were encouraged to become adept at a concept known as “the elevator speech.”If you don’t know what an elevator speech is, it’s a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organization and its value proposition.
The idea is to be able to deliver this summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds (or maybe as long as 90 seconds if you are in a high-rise building elevator). Its intent is to pique the interest of the other elevator rider, with the goal of continuing the conversation at the end of the ride or scheduling a follow-up meeting.
Those of us who had “customer contact” positions were encouraged to develop and to “practice, practice, practice” our elevator speeches until it rolled off our tongues.
So how does this work? Well, let’s say that you are visiting the Acme Widget Company to pitch a timekeeping system. You walk into the elevator and find yourself standing next to Phineas T. Blusterbum, the CEO of Acme Widget Company. You see that Mr. Blusterbum is going to the sixth floor, a ride that will take about 30 seconds.
You can stand there silently and gaze awkwardly around the elevator, avoiding eye contact with Mr. Blusterbum while unconsciously twiddling your thumbs.
Or you can take advantage of a 30 second captive audience with the CEO. And so you begin your elevator speech, one that you’ve practiced dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
The conversation might go something like this:
Me: Ah, Mr. Blusterbum, I’m Frank Dango from Business Solutions, Inc. I’m here today to meet with some of your HR folks to discuss your challenges around timekeeping. [I offer my hand to Mr. Blusterbum.]
FTB: Oh? [He returns my handshake, albeit somewhat apprehensively.]
Me: Yes. At BS, we pride ourselves on the ease of use and comprehensiveness of our timekeeping solution, but I will be talking with your staff about that a little later this morning. I just want you to know that our solution will help your company become more efficient and will save you money. [He raises one eyebrow on hearing the phrase “will save you money.”]
Me: Our solution more accurately records and processes time worked, as well as paid and unpaid time off taken by your employees, which, as you know, is critically important in these difficult economic times. [He shakes his head in agreement.]
Me: Our timekeeping solution is totally automated and is fully integrated with your corporate payroll system, which will relieve your managers from all of the paperwork and follow-up required today to properly account for time, thus allowing them to be more strategic in their management roles. It will also reduce payroll errors that result from retroactive adjustments due to timekeeping inaccuracies.
At that point, the elevator reaches the sixth floor and the doors open.
FTB: Well, that’s all very interesting, young man. Do you have a business card? Since you’re meeting with my HR team this morning, I will follow-up with them. If they like what they see and hear, I’ll be happy to meet with you as we consider our next steps.
Me: Thank you, Mr. Blunderbum. It was a pleasure meeting you and having this brief conversation. Here’s my card. I’ll follow-up with you in a few days.
With that, Mr. Blunderbum leaves the elevator, eager to learn more about my company’s time keeping solution. It’s a good thing I practiced, practiced, practiced my elevator speech, right?