You’re at a business or social event and the inevitable question arises, “What do you do?” Now is the time for your “Elevator Speech” to kick in and smartly sell your product or service. Or is it?
Most often we tell the inquirer our job category (e.g., I’m an accountant, plumber, salesperson … ) or job title (VP, realtor, sales representative) and where we work. At this point, the conversation often goes relatively quiet as they offer an unknowing, polite, or perhaps perfunctory response about your work, “That’s nice.”
If you dislike your work, perhaps ending the conversation about your job plays to your advantage by avoiding a disheartening conversation. It may also be that the person was simply making polite conversation and has no real interest in your business.
The other extreme is the canned elevator speech where your tightly crafted unique selling proposition is flawlessly presented worthy of a Toastmasters’ award. You’ve rehearsed it over and over so now you’ve said it. What do you get in return?
“Oh! That’s nice,” again. Then the person walks away for fear of being sold or bored by a rehearsed jerk with robotic responses. You were insensitive to the person.
No one likes to feel stupid or feel like they are being sold. Under either approach, at best they only have a shallow concept of what you really do and how you truly make a difference for your clients or customers. In short, you’re either putting them to work figuring out what you do or you’re working them over with your sales pitch.
The Do Do Dialogue takes a bit of thinking on your feet mixed with some advanced preparation. The goal isn’t to sell or present. Rather it is to discover how you can help them, how they can help you, or what a referral or recommendation looks like for either of you. (Yes, some of us actually think that way from the start).
Assuming, however, that you are an on-purpose business person working in an on-purpose position, then you truly are interested in the on-purpose business approach of Doing More Of What You Do Best More Profitably. If that’s the case, then your response to their question just short-circuited an organic opportunity to earn a new client or gain a source of referrals or just make a friend.
Instead, what if you had a respectful and relevant response that actually got the person interested in what you do—or at least more interested—while providing a clear understanding of your on-purpose customer?
In either a business or social setting, before you show up, think about where you’re going to be. Who you’re going to meet. This gives a huge clue as to appropriateness of response. If you’re at a neighborhood block party or the Chamber of Commerce Lunch, then you’re walking into different settings. Be wise to that.
Here’s the social setting response when asked, “What do you do?” I quickly assess whom I’m speaking with: a retired person, a young mom, an unkempt teenager, or a man in his working years.
“Do you know how many (retired persons, moms, teens, or working adults) often feel that their life is meaningless?”
Their response is typically, “Yes.”
Then I say, “I help my clients write their purpose in life and make decisions that are aligned with it so they are on-purpose rather than off-purpose.” The next question from them is typically, “How do you do that? Are you some kinda life coach?”
My response isn’t to directly answer their question, but to probe a bit further. “Why do you ask? Do you know someone who is looking to know their purpose in life?”
At this point they’ll talk about themselves or someone they know. Now I can probe further. “Tell me about that.” So rather than telling them I have a company that “does life coaching,” I model it for them by becoming interested in them.
In a business setting, I’ll assess the person but unless I know otherwise, I always assume they are a P&L business leader because that’s my clientele. I want them to get someone in mind who needs my help.
I’ll say, “Do you know how stressful it is for (business owners, sales people, executives) who are charged with making (a profit, sales, a budget)?”
Their response is typically, “Yes.”
My next “do question” is likely to be, “Does someone come to mind?”
Again, they’ll either self-identify or get someone in mind. Then, I probe further, “So what’s that story?”
Each of these series of questions has the potential to open up a powerful conversation about either the person or someone they know and just might introduce you to.
Learn the “Do Do Dialogue” and you’ll transform small talk into engaging opportunities. Who knows, you might just gain a new client or a referral and truly do more of what you do best more profitably.