I was Master of Ceremonies last week at the Small Business Banking conference in Fort Worth, Texas (founded, you might be interested to know, in 1849 as one of ten forts to define the western border of Texas).
During the breaks and receptions I prowled the aisles, talking to representatives from many of the companies that sponsored the conference. Although the conference is brief – Sunday afternoon to Tuesday noon –the talking points began to run together after dozens of conversations like so many churning long-horns in a Chisholm Trail cattle drive. The impact of the herd overpowered the impact of the individual.
Sliding into my comfy seat for the plane ride back to Boston, my seatmate and I exchanged greetings and a little information about our trips. When I asked him what he did he said…
“I maintain auxiliary power units for manufacturers. You know how, when there is a power outage caused by a storm, manufacturers can loose a lot of production time? No power, no production. An APU provides emergency power. I maintain those units so they fire up perfectly and the companies avoid down time and the costs that go with it.”
Short and cheerful. When he finished, I was clear about what he does, for whom, and the potential value of his work.
As we begin thinking about “Sales Year 2011,” how shall we phrase our own versions of his description, focusing on the benefits of our products or services rather than the activities?
The general format could be (adapt as needed):
- I (general description of our work here).
- You know how, when, (triggering events or conditions here)?
- They (the pain – impact of the triggering events here).
- I (activity here) so that (client benefit here).
- I… work with small business owners.
- You know how, when … they get tied up in their day-to-day activities, they forget to think ahead about their cash flow?
- They … all of a sudden one morning, find out they’ve bounced a lot of checks, incurred several hundred dollars of bank fees, and aggravated their suppliers. Very painful.
- I… help small business owners plan ahead and put appropriate processes and financing in place so that they avoid surprises, bank fees, and aggravation and focus on running their companies.
Short and cheerful.