Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

We struggle with telling our story effectively. We are independent fiduciaries who do the right thing by our clients (that’s our elevator pitch) but we never say this to anyone. In fact we listen more than we talk and when we talk, it is more about our process than a description of our firm and who we are.

I’ve never been in an elevator where someone expected me to give them a one-liner about my business. What should we be saying, when and to whom? Can you shed some light?

James T.

Dear James,

Thank you for giving voice to the downside of the “elevator pitch” – it’s true that I’ve never heard of anyone giving one line on their way from the ground floor to the top floor and then uncovering a prospect!

That said, an elevator pitch is simply a way to focus – if you can’t say what you do in one or two sentences, you haven’t crystalized who you want to be. Most advisors like to talk about what they do – and passion is good! But they use many words and concepts; for most consumers, it’s hard to follow or understand what matters most. So, when you are forced to boil it down, you will find the most important points that need to be made.

The operative question is what do you say to prospects? You mention you listen more than you talk and I applaud this, but at a certain point you have to say what you do and how you do it. You speak about your process but what do you say? For example, if you are “independent fiduciaries who do they right thing…” focus on the evidence for this. How does your independence help your clients? What will being a fiduciary mean to this prospect? How will it benefit or impact their lives? What does doing the right thing mean – how is it different from thinking independently or being a fiduciary?

Instead of focusing on marketing-speak, focus on what you do, what it’s like to work with you and what the experience will be once they join your client roster. The more you can describe a process and connect it to the prospect, their needs and their concerns, the more your story will come alive in these meetings.

Of course you do need a strong website and other handout materials. People will hear about you, Google you and find your site and you may never know they were checking you out so it isn’t practical to think you always have the chance to woo someone in person. Make sure your site is compelling and inviting. I strongly suggest you move away from words like “independent” and “fiduciaries” on the site. These are really hackneyed phrases and don’t mean anything to most prospects. Only those of us in the business understand the significance. Instead try to outline what you do in an inviting way so that someone reading your site could picture themselves working with you.

And, one last piece of advice – please refrain from using that line in any elevator!

By Beverly Flaxington, read the full article here.